The Peace Garden section of the park was called the Rock Garden for about 80 years until it was renamed the Peace Garden in 1998 and designated an International Peace Site the following year. A focal point of the park is the Peace Garden Bridge, installed in 2009 and constructed in a zigzag pattern according to Japanese tradition to prevent evil spirits from following people into the garden.
The bridge was designed by McKnight Distinguished Artist Kinji Akagawa and Jerry Allan, Architect and Professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. It includes inlaid Minnesota granite, as well as granite peace stones from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, found in the rubble of the 1945 atomic blast.
The peace theme continues in the bronze sculpture, The Spirit of Peace, by local artist Caprice Glaser. The sculpture illustrates the folding of a peace crane, representing the international tradition honoring a young Japanese girl who developed cancer as a result of radiation and died at age 12. She folded over 1,000 cranes before her death after hearing the legend that a wish would be granted to those that folded one thousand cranes. Instructions and paper are present for you to fold your own peace crane.
A series of 7 stone cairn sculptures connects the East Harriet Neighborhood with the Peace Garden, each base encircled with words representing the community’s feelings about the meaning of peace. In summer the neighboring rose garden next to Lake Harriet is in full bloom. It is the second oldest public rose garden in the country.