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Reading: St. Louis Parks by NiNi Harris and Esley Hamilton

May 19, 2012 Books, Featured, Parks 3 Comments

The St. Louis region is home to many great parks and now historians (and personal friends) NiNi Harris and Esley Hamilton have collaborated on a book about parks in St. Louis city & county, respectively. The title, appropriately enough, St. Louis Parks.

ABOVE: Cover of the new hardcover book from Reedy Press, click image for publisher's page

The forward is by Peter H. Raven and the 164 page book is filled with beautiful images by photographers  Mark Abeln and Steve Tiemann.

ABOVE: Image of Fairgrounds Park by Mark Abeln

The wealth of knowledge that both Harris & Hamilton have shared is overwhelming. NiNi Harris shared this thought with me:

I love showing visitors to St. Louis around our City Parks. They are always awed by the beauty of our parks. And they are wowed by the number of parks, the variety of sizes from pocket parks to enormous Forest Park, from pedestrian parks to driving parks, from squares to linear parks. Hopefully, this book can help more people discover and enjoy this remarkable treasure.

Look for it in the library or your local bookstore.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Sounds like a great look back; the real challenge remains maintaining all this great infrastructure, moving forward.  Our Parks Dept. seems to be making their budget stretch as far as possible, but obviously can use more money and better equipment.  The fundamental challenge is that it’s always easier to secure funding for specific new projects (like the two new recreation centers) than it is to secure incremental increases in the non-glamorous part of the budget that funds maintenance (like keeping fountains running).

  2. Mark Abeln says:

    Thank you for mentioning the book. I am grateful for having received the assignment to photograph the parks in the City for this book. Many of these parks and neighborhoods were unfamiliar to me, and I enjoyed visiting them. 

    Taking the photos for this book was a bit of challenge. How do you create an interesting photo of a park that is little more than an unadorned rectangle of grass? How do you show the character of park? I must admit that many of my earlier photos for the book were dull and uninteresting, even depressing! I needed to study composition and subject matter more, and apply it to this project, and I eventually found inspiration in 19th century Romantic landscape painting, among other things. Were I to do this project again, I’d be sure to include more people and animals in the photos: Mr. Tiemann’s photos of county parks are particularly good with showing people enjoying the parks, and I think my cover photo is a happy example of the kind of joy that ought to be found in a good park.  

    Regarding the current condition of the parks, I think that “benign neglect,” as is often found in the City parks, is not necessarily a bad thing, and is likely better than active, but misguided redevelopment. A neglected park can simply wait for better days for improvement, and if the park was initially designed and built well, its recovery can be fairly easy, if that is what the people want.

  3. Beal3 says:

    Wonderful book; great photos.  Including maps of each park’s location would have made this book more than just a pretty adornment for a coffee table.


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