The rapid neutron capture process (r-process) is understood to be responsible for the synthesis of approximately half of all of the isotopes present in Solar System matter in the mass region from approximately zinc through the actinides. While the general features of this process were identified in the classic papers by B2FH (1957) and Cameron (1957), our current understanding of the r-process remains woefully incomplete. We have yet to cleanly identify which of the studied astrophysical sites contribute significantly to the observed abundance pattern. We have yet to reconcile the apparent duplicity of r-process sites with extant models for the operation of the r-process in diverse astronomical environments. While we may still remain theoretically challenged in our attempts to understand the r-process mechanism and to identify its site, significant clues have come from the observational side. Triggered by the first detections of the element europium (formed predominantly by the r-process) in low metallicity stars (Spite & Spite 1978), observations of heavy element abundances in halo stars have since served to provide tremendously important clues to the nature of the r-process mechanism. Identified constraints include: the utter dominance of the r-process contributions (over those of the s-process in extremely metal deficient stars; an extraordinary robustness of the r-process pattern in the mass range A[gsim ]130–140; and the demand for a second r-process site for the production of the A[lsim ]130 r-process nuclei. We will review these observational trends and theoretical models in the context of the Galactic (Cosmic) evolution of r-process abundances.