Forest Park

Designers: Juluis Pitzman | City: St. Louis, MO | Project Type: large parks, cultural center, cultural parks
Date Visited: 10.03.12

Location: 1 Government Drive, St. Louis, MO
Size: 1,371.75 acres
Cost: $94 million restoration (for centennial celebration of the 1904 World’s Fair)
Official Opening Date: June 24, 1876

As the seventh largest urban park in the U.S., the city of St. Louis loves to boast that Forest Park is 500 acres larger than New York City’s Central Park. Located in the heart of the city, Forest Park–an apt name, given that it holds approximately 18,000 trees–is also the home of St. Louis’ major cultural institutions, from the city Art Museum to the St. Louis Zoo–and what’s even better is that they’re all free.

Map of Forest Park post-renovations. Photo Credit: siue.edu

St. Louis is rightly proud of Forest Park. This huge, green open-space with its prized museums are almost unexpected wonders amidst the urban decay that overtook the city. And according to the City of St. Louis, Forest Park is extends beyond its recreational and environmental responsibilities; it is an “active participant and catalyst in the St. Louis community” and attracts over 12 million visitors annually.

Forest Park is so beloved by locals that the next best thing to actually visiting Forest Park is reading the enthusiastic (and hilarious) Yelp reviews. Forest Park seems to have everything: the art deco-styled Jewel Box and 1904 World’s Fair Pavilion; a free zoo and science center; views from hills and paddle boat activities in lakes; two golf courses and an art museum; cycling paths and public transit, the list goes on.

Unfortunately, the Art Museum was closed when I visited, but I was still able to take in some spectacular views from the top of Art Hill next to the statue of Saint Louis. I also stopped through the 1904 World’s Fair Pavilion and into its terraced gardens, but the bulk of my time was spent exploring the St. Louis Zoo.

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