The conspicuously empty planter in the center of the Arcata Plaza, shortly after the McKinley statue’s removal | File photo: Andrew Goff


It has been more than two years since the controversial statue of President William McKinley was removed from the center of the Arcata Plaza, leaving many people wondering if and when the city would remove the cement planter that previously held ol’ McKinley, and whether anything would go in its place.

Well, last year Arcata’s Plaza Improvement Task Force determined that the City’s best option (although maybe the most boring one) was to get rid of the planter and leave the space empty — both for flexibility of the space’s use and to open up the visual line-of-sight on the Plaza. 

Now this plan will finally be realized. The City of Arcata announced on Friday evening that removal of the planter will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 17 and Wednesday, Aug. 18. Additional construction work will also take place in September, the City says.

Overhead view of the Plaza | Photo by Britton Latham, courtesy of the City of Arcata

Press release from City of Arcata:

The City of Arcata will begin work to remove the planter and granite steps located at the center of the Arcata Plaza on Tuesday, August 17.

The Arcata City Council has prioritized removing the planter and steps to create an open, flexible space for community gatherings and special events. This action also supports the recommendations of the Plaza Improvement Task Force which noted that removing the center planter would foster greater flexibility for the space and enhance the sightline through the Plaza.

Work to remove the planter material and granite steps is anticipated to take place on Tuesday, August 17 through Wednesday, August 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with additional construction occurring in September.

During periods of work, access to the inner center of the Plaza will be limited to ensure public safety. On days of scheduled work, community members are asked to follow all directions and traffic control devices within the project area.

For more information, please contact the Environmental Services Department at (707) 822-8184. For more updates on construction progress and project plans, please visit

The night McKinley came down| File photo from City of Arcata