Forest Park

Skinker at Lindell
St. Louis, MO

Submitted by: Mary Warren

A glorious and beautiful urban park.

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Why It Works

Forest Park, opened in 1876 and the site of one of the greatest and most historic of World's Fairs in 1904, is 1,370 acres (500 more than Central Park in New York) of the most beautiful landscape of forestry, greenery, lakes, ponds, bridges and wildlife. Over 12 million visitors each year at Forest Park enjoy visiting the Saint Louis Zoo, one of the country's finest zoos; the Missouri History Museum; the Mark C. Steinberg Memorial Skating Rink (for ice skating in the winter and roller skating in the summer); the Saint Louis Science Center; the Jewel Box (an art-deco style conservatory surrounded by rose gardens, lily ponds, statuary and monuments); Aviation Field, where Charles Lindbergh flew mail from St. Louis to Chicago before he flew his solo flight; the Muny (outdoor musical theatre); the Boat House (where one can take Gondola rides); the Saint Louis Art Museum; the Dwight F. Davis (of the Davis Cup) Tennis Center; a myriad of picnic sites; bike and running paths; and more. Free admission is available at all the sites, thus allowing the most financially strapped of families to enjoy great art, history, and science. Forest Park boasts Shakespeare in the Park in June, the Great Forest Park Balloon Race in September, and will offer this year for the first time hay rides beginning in October. The steep and wonderful hill in front of the Art Museum is affectionately called Art Hill by all native St. Louisans, and every winter hundreds of sledders show up when snow blankets the ground for the great sledding down Art Hill, followed by the great trek back up. It's a meeting place for everyone of every economic background who wants to have good, clean, free family fun and entertainment.

What Makes Forest Park a Great Place?

The Park can sometimes be breathtakingly overwhelming, with the winding roads leading to all its special venues. Bike and running/walking paths wind around the perimeter and through the interior of the park. Rollerbladers and skateboarders are out everyday with the bikers, hikers and runners. Golfers in their golf-carts travel the huge course. MetroLink does stop across from Forest Park, and shuttle buses are available for special events - such as the Muny season - to take theatre-goers from the parking lots on a quick jaunt to the Muny. Sidewalks and trails are all throughout the park, as are wide streets allowing parking and traffic to flow smoothly. The Park is accessible on all sides, with several entrances on each side. Forest Park is ten minutes from downtown St. Louis.

Forest Park is undergoing a monumental face-lift. A $90 million project, funded by the citizens of St. Louis and the City, is underway to restore and renovate the Park to its original glory. Fragmented lakes, lagoons and ponds will be transformed into a "river-like" flowing water system to promote better water quality, less flooding, and a self-sustaining park environment. The diversity of Forest Park attracts men, women and children in equal proportions. Picnic tables, park benches, and just a piece of grass with a blanket on it provides every kind of rest and relaxation possible in an urban park. The various venues in Forest Park offer small restaurants and eateries, with inside and outside tables. The park is cleaned by a very small but mighty City crew, and volunteers join in to help keep the Park beautiful. The St. Louis Mounted Police have their headquarters in Forest Park and, if ever necessary, are moments away to assist visitors. Good lighting allows folks to walk or ride through the Park after dark with seemingly no trepidation.

There's not a day goes by when there aren't people, people, people in Forest Park. Fishing attracts the grandpas and grandsons, who stand shoulder to shoulder. Educational programs for teachers to use with their students are offered at Forest Park, enabling the Park to be used in a positive and reinforcing educational manner for youngsters to appreciate the delicate balance of ecology and nature in an urban setting.

Many companies and organizations in the metropolitan area choose Forest Park for their annual picnics and awards ceremonies. Weddings take place in the many venues throughout the Park, and sometimes just out in the open underneath the canopy of trees. The surrounding areas of Forest Park house upper and lower income families, and you'll find every ethnic and economic family in Forest Park enjoying all it has to offer. People who live in the metropolitan St. Louis area bring out-of-town visitors to Forest Park, proud to display all the showcases Forest Park has. Many people donate funds to Forest Park Forever even after they've moved away from the area. The memories of St. Louisans' in Forest Park while growing up last a life time, and they are very generous in their support of the Park.

History & Background

There are many athletic fields for various sports and games, and on any given weekend one can enjoy playing or watching softball, football, cricket, rugby, tennis, golf, archery, lacrosse, or soccer. Early spring brings the Antique Car Show, Kite Festival and other events welcoming the warm weather. The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is the offical, but not final, farewell to the summer featuring the Energizer Bunny Balloon leading the many colorful and unusual hot-air balloons in a Great Race over a defined race track in the sky! Back on the ground, trees well over 100 years old can be found throughout the Park, along with several fragile ecosystems.

Contact Info:

Forest Park Forever, 5595 Grand Drive in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO 63112-1095; 314-367-7275
Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry, 5600 Clayton Avenue in Forest Park, St. Louis, MO 63110

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