An ice sculpture that brightened moods in a St. Paul neighborhood has been removed because city officials deemed it unsafe and the artist did not have a permit to install it on park property.

St. Paul Parks and Recreation crews on Tuesday morning removed the mobile ice sculpture from a boulevard on Summit Avenue near S. Griggs Street.

"It presented a strong safety risk," said department spokeswoman Clare Cloyd, referring to heavy steel beams that were not properly secured. And "it was placed there without our permission."

Crews disassembled the sculpture and returned it to the owner, Cloyd said.

Since it appeared this month, scores of residents had come to ogle the creation featuring ice blocks, each about the size of a very large apple, hung from metal strings.

"It took my breath away to see all these giants blocks of ice hanging down," said Pam Schmid, who lives nearby.

She described it as an "ice portal" because you could see through it. It felt like "gazing through hope," she said.

"It was nice to have a destination on a very cold day," Schmid said.

Schmid went a couple of more times to visit the sculpture and saw families and small groups of friends take photos with it. Another person even left pink ice hearts by it.

When she visited again Tuesday night, she was disappointed to see it was gone. Schmid saw one woman who lit a candle in its place.

"It was something that brightened people's days," she said.

Cloyd said the city welcomes art in public spaces as long as it meets safety standards and the artist has a signed permit on file. In this case, neither happened, Cloyd said.

With the weather hitting the mid-30s and even 40 degrees early next week, Schmid said she knew the ice sculpture wouldn't last long. But she wishes it could have stayed a few more days.

"I thought the warm weather would get it," she said. "It sounds like something else already did."

Staff writer Alex Chhith contributed to this report.