Houdini Plaza Opens At Last!–The New Face of Downtown Appleton [Infographic]

Houdini Plaza in Appleton is finally finished!

After months of looking like the set of a post-apocalyptic movie, Houdini Plaza is finally done! Does anyone else hear the Hallelujah Chorus?

Appleton celebrated accordingly with a rockin’ summer party that included an illusionist, a speech from Mayor Tim Hanna, and live music from the cover band RPM.

Armed with an iPhone camera I borrowed from my dad (thanks dad!) I ran downtown to capture the magic of this event, and see for myself what we spent all that money on.

Around 68 bazillion Fox Cities citizens turned for the grand reopening (give or take) standing on grass so new you could feel the sod squish beneath your feet.

Everyone was having fun stone cold chilling with lawn chairs, soda, beer, and every kind of food you could ever want. It didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect—as in sunny, breezy, nearly cloudless perfect.


An illusionist performing for onlookers.

Unfortunately, I showed up late and missed the mayor’s speech and the illusion, but I didn’t miss out on the magic entirely. The illusionist performed his magic for some crowd members later on in the night.

RPM was pretty great and everyone was thrilled to be listening to music, eating all kinds of delicious food, and not dancing at all in the slightest.

Seriously, I have never seen a group of people who were less open to the concept of dancing, but the band didn’t give up.

Pro dance tactics included the following:

  1. Asking them to dance.
  2. Asking some more.
  3. Chastising the crowd for its “golf clap.”
  4. Trying to get the crowd to imagine they were cheering at the Packers.

No lie on that last one. By the end everyone loosened up. The crowd moved toward the band and finally started to sway. I had to take off around 8pm, so whether or not they actually engaged in more active dance is something I will never know.


It was great to see so many people downtown and the square looks awesome. That being said, it’s worth remembering that the price tag for this project is around $1.5 with a solid $1 million coming straight from the city.

Next time you’re in Appleton, be sure to see it. Until then, check out the infographic below. Made by our very own Ashley Steinbrinck, it has everything you need to know about the revamped plaza and the infamous Harry Houdini himself.

Houdini Plaza Infographic - Appleton, WI



  1. So, $1.5 Million was spent on a city “park” named after a guy that never even lived in Appleton, but only passed through and hated how small it was? What is with the people in Appleton when it comes to this fabrication? They don’t want to do research and cling to a lie Houdini himself made up by telling people “Appleton,Wisconsin” when they asked where he was from because he thought it was funny that Appleton was in the middle of nowhere. I bet there are some schools that could have used that kind of money.

    • You make a great point, Brian. Although Harry spent his younger years in Appleton, there has to be some reason he used it as his hometown on official documents and told people he was born there. It’s a well-known fact that he was actually born in Hungary, but it’s still pretty neat that he spent the time he did in a city we know so well.

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