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Second Downtown Dog Park: Serra’s ‘Twain’

April 16, 2015 Downtown, Featured, Parks 9 Comments

Between the Arch grounds and the Gateway Mall downtown has an excess of public park land — land unlikely to ever see new buildings again. Still, some want to make more park lmd nearby — a dog park where the Cupples 7 warehouse once stood. See Temporary Dog Park On Former Cupples 7 Site Would Be Too Costly.

Meanwhile most blocks of the Gateway Mall go unloved. For a few years now I’ve been trying to build support for updating the block West of Citygarden — the block containing Richard Serra’s ‘Twain’.

ABOVE: Once you pass through one of the narrow openings the inside is spacious.
Once you pass through one of the narrow openings the inside is spacious.

Why turn a developable site into a dog & sculpture park when you can just fence in an existing sculpture? It’s already parkland, it needs more activity, it has a great location next to Citygarden. As a dog park a fence would be installed just inside new perimeter sidewalks, with at least two vestibule entry/exit points. Access would be limited to dog park members.

I still want to see a public restroom on one corner at 10th so the porta-potties at Citygarden can be retired. The restroom structure could be accessed from outside the dog park, with water for dogs on the inside.

— Steve Patterson

 

Eleanor Roosevelt Visited St. Louis 75 Years Ago

Seventy-five years ago today First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote about her visit to St. Louis the day before.  She arrived at St. Louis’ Union Station, having been in Kansas City.  Later that Sunday she visited Fort Belle Fontaine:

I visited a training school for boys between the ages of 12 and 18, yesterday afternoon. It is about 16 miles out of St. Louis and is run on the cottage system with much land around it. The boys work three hours of the day on academic school courses and four hours on actual labor jobs.

Yesterday being Sunday, the WPA orchestra and the choral leader were putting on a concert in which the boys themselves participated. The commentator told the story of the music which the orchestra was about to play and the boys joined in the singing. Sometimes it was a quartette of boys trained under the WPA recreational project by the choral director, sometimes it was a song by the entire glee club.

The boys never had any time to weary of too much orchestral music, nor did they have to sit still too long, because periodically they rose and sang as loudly as they wanted. (My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt Monday November 6, 1939)

The Works Progress Administration (WPA), started in 1935, had numerous projects on the historic site, including terraces down to the Missouri River.

The WPA built the stone terraces & steps down to the Missouri River
The WPA built the stone terraces & steps down to the Missouri River, that’s my husband on the left

Why is it historic? Glad you asked:

Fort Belle Fontaine Park has been a St. Louis County Park since 1986. Few are aware that this was the first United States military installation west of the Mississippi River, established in 1805. Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery expedition (1804-1806) spent the first night of their expedition on an island opposite Cold Water Creek and their last night two years later at the fort, which had been established in their absence. Other major expeditions left from this site betweem 1805 and 1819 to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Territory. Until it was replaced by Jefferson Barracks in 1826, Fort Belle Fontaine was an important gathering place in the wilderness for officers and enlisted men, Native American, French, Spanish and American settlers, trappers and traders, and the local businessmen and farmers who supplied the fort with necessities. (St. Louis County)

A year after, to the day, that Mrs. Roosevelt visited St. Louis her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt won an unprecedented 3rd term in office.

The recent PBS special The Roosevelts was fascinating, highly recommenced!! If you haven’t been, I also revommend visiting Fort Belle Fontaine

— Steve Patterson

 

One Year Until 50th Anniversary of Last Piece of Arch

October 28, 2014 Downtown, Featured, Parks 2 Comments

The big 50th anniversary of the day the final piece of the Arch was lowered into place is one year from today. CityArchRiver 2015 has been working for a few years now to complete a big update to the Arch grounds for a huge celebration, but don’t expect to see everything you remember from the winning design completed in the next year. The balance of the work will be finished after this anniversary, well after in some cases (cough: gondola).

Here are some future anniversaries, opportunities to celebrate:

  • June 10, 2017: 50th anniversary of the Arch opening to the public
  • May 25, 2018: 50th anniversary of the inauguration by VP Humphrey
  • May 30, 2022: 75th anniversary of the opening of the design competition
  • February 18, 2023: 75th anniversary of the jury selecting Saarinen’s design the winner
  • December 15, 2033: 100th anniversary of the idea for a riverfront memorial
  • May 28, 2037: 50th anniversary of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • February 12, 2038: 75th anniversary of the start of construction
  • October 10, 2039: 100th anniversary of the start of demolition to clear the historic riverfront
Luther Ely Square will be extended over the highway, but the new museum entrance won't be open
Luther Ely Square will be extended over the highway, but the expanded museum won’t be open until Spring 2017
Work on the highway lid has moved quickly, though it remains a mess currently.
Work on the highway lid has moved quickly, though it remains a mess currently.
View of the south side of the lid
View of the south side of the lid
Lid view from the Arch side
Lid view from the Arch side
What we've known as the entry/exit areas will become exit-only once the new museum opens
What we’ve known as the entry/exit areas will become exit-only once the new museum opens
The ash trees will be cut down to be replaced, the grounds are expected to be complete by May 2016
The ash trees will be cut down to be replaced, the grounds are expected to be complete by May 2016
View looking north from south of the Arch
View looking north from south of the Arch
Trees to the south have already been tagged for removal.
Trees to the south have already been tagged for removal. Click image to see video from May 1982 when these trees were young
Works is progressing on the riverfront, this should be complete by a year from now.
Works is progressing on the riverfront, this should be complete by a year from now.

I suspect a year from today I’ll be both impressed and disappointed by what is finished.

— Steve Patterson

 

Chouteau Park Just Getting Started

October 20, 2014 Environment, Featured, Parks 3 Comments

Chouteau Park is the newest city park, created by ordinance in 2008, as compensation for the future loss of Hudlin Park to BJC. The fate of Hudlin Park was a hot issue in the Spring of 2006. This new 2.8 acre park is intended to replace the 12 acre Hudlin Park.

Chouteau Park is just largely a graded empty lot right now, awaiting funds to become a fully realized park space. The design was done by H3 studios in 2009.

Revised renderings from the H3 2009 design include a shaded promenade, adventure playground, spray fountain and park cafe.

Update January 1, 2014: the classic St. Louis park sign has been added and trees are being planted. (St. Louis w/design & revised design)

As you might expect, parks don’t happen overnight. Every park in the city was once newly created and not looking like much. Citygarden, opened in 2009, is a rare exception because it was privately funded. Construction on Chouteau Park began in the fall of 2011.

Corner of Chouteau & Newstead Avenues
Corner of Chouteau & Newstead Avenues
Gap in the sidewalk along Newstead & Chouteau may be because of the future park cafe on the corner.
Gap in the sidewalk along Newstead & Chouteau may be because of the future park cafe on the corner.
The colorful mounds will be great for kids once not surrounded by standing water & mud
The colorful mounds will be great for kids once not surrounded by standing water & mud. No telling what will end up inside he orange one
The largest encourages climbing
The largest encourages climbing
View from the top of the hill at the east end
View from the top of the hill at the east end

One sidewalk going up the hill just ended, I’m not sure of the future intent. A number of sewer inlets handle water runoff, hopefully in the future this water can be captured and refined onsite.

It’ll be fun to see this new park develop and mature over the years.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Light Pollution Negatively Impacts Citygarden at Night

September 15, 2014 Downtown, Featured, Parks 4 Comments

Busy weekend, the post I’d planned for today will appear later this week. Today I thought I’d share a recent pic from Citygarden.

Citygarden on September 8, 2014 @ 8pm
Citygarden on September 8, 2014 @ 8pm

The bright light on the right is the new Saint Louis University School of Law. I tend to take photos of Citygarden this direction, the other direction the Peabody sign on the Gateway One building is too bright. When Citygarden first opened in 2009 the Peabody name wasn’t on the building, the park was much more pleasant at night. Now the signage is overpowering.

For a future post I’ll try to get a decent nighttime shot to illiterate my point, to contrast with older photos from before the sign went up on the building.

— Steve Patterson

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