Friday, June 5, 2009

Forest Park v. Tower Grove Park: We're all winners here

End of year kindergarten trip to playground.
Kay vogue-ing after soccer practice last fall.
Children's Concert Series, Piper Palm House, last summer.
Swimming in Victorian wading pool. Free admission. Lifeguard on duty.

Tennis lessons. Park also features St. Louis' only grass courts.
You know those green gates that keep cars off some of the streets? Don't run under one because you may bang your head like Audrey here and need stitches in your scalp.
Audrey climbing.
Gus on ruins about a year ago.
Kay, Mimi and I at St. Margaret Easter egg hunt.

Stupid to even debate which is better- how lucky are St. Louis is to have these two wonderful parks. Actually, St. Louis has many wonderful parks anchoring its neighborhoods. John and I first lived in an apartment at 4504 Laclede at the intersection of Taylor and Laclede. Forest Park was our pre-child playground. I'd start the day with a 5-10 mile run (!). Amy Z. and I would ice skate on Sunday nights. Beer fests, softball, picnics, Boathouse happy hours (even before it was rehabbed), Jewel Box weddings- all were in our backyard. Now that I think of it, in high school John and I would drink vodka and Mountain Dew in Forest Park on Art Hill, so our Forest Park days go way back.

We bought our first house about 10 years ago on Mississippi in Lafayette Square. Lafayette Park is about 1/50th of the size of Forest Park. Even though it is much smaller, it felt more 'ours.' We worked in the rock garden with neighbor Rebecca who refused to use Round Up (she still won't- I do, albeit sparingly). I ran the .9 miles around the park numerous times to eek out a decent run. More drinking- sometimes at the summer concerts, but mostly just cocktails and walking the dogs. RIP Bear, our 110 pound dog that pulled me like a water-skier over Lafayette Park's pebbly roads.

I'll always remember my friend Colleen R., whom I did not know at the time, pulling up and asking, "Hey, were moving here from Kansas City- are there any kids that live in this neighborhood?" To which I replied that I sure did hope so because I was pregnant with one. When Kay was born we pushed her through the park and met up with the handful of other moms at the playground. Colleen still lives in the same house she bought 10 years ago and is a hostess supreme and is one of my favorite people. By the time I was pregnant with Audrey, the Lafayette Square house was on the market and we were on our way to Soulard.

Soulard has no single central park- there are three smaller parks- Market Park, Pontiac Park, and teenie-tiny Aboussie Park on 13th. I go to all of them. Kids love exploring Aboussie Park on evening walks. The Pontiac playground and nearby garden are newly renovated and worth the trip. When I run, I usually loop the brewery a few times and do a few loops of hilly roller-coaster park, Lyon Park.

We're getting to the end and it is this: Tower Grove Park is my grown up park. Originally plotted along with the Missouri Botanical Garden, it is a privately maintained park available to the public. The groundskeepers are so considerate that they turn off their equipment when you walk by so as not to disturb you.

We're in TGP at least once a week: School field trips, tennis lessons, school picnics, soccer, t-ball, Easter egg hunts, family bike rides, brunch at Cafe Madeleine at Piper Palm house. The beauty of TGP is that while I'm doing my mommy thing in TGP, other folks are happily doing their things. Old dudes resting on benches. Birdwatchers. A gay kickball league. Bosnian and Mexican kids playing soccer. Weekend Farmers Market. Urban family reunions. Good times for all- just the way Henry Shaw must have hoped for.

Rome of the West has a lovely post on TGP and its history. Click here.


  1. Now I really miss St. Louis! :o( Used live between Heman Park and Lewis Park in the UCity Loop area. We don't have nearly enough little parks here in San Diego, CA!

  2. TGP, and MoBot figure prominently in my pre-WG years, since my parents, sister and I lived in a 2-family flat on Flora Ave. (West of the Garden, not to be confused with Flora Pl.). Nikki and I lived across the street from that old flat, until we moved into our house in Shaw.

  3. Eric I did not know that. good to have you in the city.

  4. I found your pictures looking back for old memories in St Louis. The wading pool in Tower Groves Park is one of my early memories, 40 years ago being there with my grandmother. I remember the Tower Grove Park and the wading but had no idea it was a wading pool. I thought it was just a fountain, where they let you play. Then a completely different very early memory was splitting my head open and the doctors holding me down with the sheet over my head as they stiched me up. I think I made much more of a fuss than your little one did.

  5. That Tower Grove Park posting is one of my all-time favorites, despite the fact the blogger is always messing up its formatting.

    However, I can't find the source for the quote “one universal spring encircles all."