The Ben Gilbert Park project was promoted by the Theater District Association, a coalition of neighborhood residents, arts organizations, business and property owners in collaboration with the City of Tacoma Public Works Department, the Tacoma Water Department and Wm. Dickson Company. The park project demonstrates water conservation landscaping practices and crime prevention through environmental design. The Tacoma City Council formally named the park to honor Ben Gilbert on November 24, 2009.
The mural project was created through an extensive neighborhood fund-raising campaign to promote the value of social and architectural heritage in this renaissance district. Ben Gilbert Park is named for a man who was dedicated to his community and ways to make it better.
Aside from serving as an open space for office workers and residents representing the full spectrum of income demographics, the park is just a block’s walk for patrons of four theaters. The seat walls and benches, the flower boxes and landscaping, the unique pine trees, the historical lighting and brick pavers all contribute to an attractive setting. The crown jewel of facility is to be a photo reproduction on tile of an historic event that happened on this site nearly a century ago.
The Mural (6' x 28')
On October 10, 1926, several thousand of Tacoma citizens swarmed across Ledger Square and everything surrounding the area to witness World Series results re-enacted on a large display board mounted on the Tacoma News Tribune & Ledger Building. This event was the seventh and deciding game between the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig-led New York Yankees and the St. Louis Cardinals. Ruth homered for the Yanks, but ended up being the goat, causing the last out by getting thrown out trying to steal second base, as St. Louis won the game 3-2 and the World Series - much to the delight of the pro-Cardinals Tacoma crowd. Eight weeks later, Ruth made a celebrity appearance at the Pantages Theater, which was located one block away at 9th and Broadway.
Side panels (36" square)
Two side panels were installed next to the mural. One tells the story of the event captured in the 1926 photo and also describe the historical connections to the important buildings in the immediate sightlines of the park, including the YMCA, Medical Arts Building (now the Municipal Building), the Tribune & Ledger Building, Webster Apartments and rows of houses along Market Street.
The second panel represents Ben Gilbert's important contributions to the city of Tacoma as a leader in the historic preservation movement that inspired downtown’s renaissance. Before coming to Tacoma, Ben was an accomplished newsman in Washington, D.C., serving as city editor at the Washington Post, then becoming an Emmy-award winning broadcast-news pioneer and advocate for the rights of the hearing-impaired .