June 16 has been named United Nations and Reptile Gardens Location Remembrance Day by Rapid City Mayor Sam Kookier, commemorating Rapid City’s near-successful bid for the United Nations’ Headquarters in the 1940s, reports the Rapid City Journal.
Paul Bellamy, a local businessman, played a vital role in solidifying Rapid City’s bid for the Headquarters location to the United Nations. If chosen, the international governmental body’s headquarters would have been located in the valley that now holds Reptile Gardens. Bellamy met with numerous foreign representatives to convince them that Rapid City and the Black Hills would be the best choice for the new UN Headquarters.
The small town feel of the area proved to be a large draw to UN delegates, and Rapid City was one of five American cities to be named a finalist. However, the Rockefeller family won the bid in 1945 and donated land in New York City that would become today’s Headquarters.
In 1965, Reptile Gardens moved to the valley, which many area residents say is preferable to the international metropolis that would have been present had the Black Hills won the bid.