Sunday, September 7, 2008

Forest Park

This is the first installment of my St. Louis blog. I send it to you for your amusement and as a way to keep in touch with valued friends. When I left Syracuse on Labor Day I started a new chapter in my life, but was at a loss about how to realistically keep in touch with the many friends I made during the last 20 years. A former neighbor of ours (Curt Miller) moved to Spain a few years back and sends us his occasional thoughts on his new life by email blog. Merry and I both enjoy reading Curt's blog so we decided to try doing something similar. Since we have different views on events and a somewhat different list of friends we decided to each write our own blog. If you do not want your mailbox filling up with our random thoughts, please let us know and we will take you off the list – no questions asked and no hard feelings.

The three of us (Merry and I and Joli the dog) arrived safely in St. Louis this past week and have bought a classic (circa 1900) brick home in a city neighborhood called McKinley Heights. Here is our new contact information. Our new address is 2115 Ann Ave., St. Louis, MO 63104. Our new phone is 314-865-0699. My new office phone is 314-588-7534 x 3015 and my office email is We are working on a new Internet connection and will probably get new email addresses soon but our current addresses will work for at least another month.

Yesterday (Saturday) was pleasantly warm so we took Joli for a walk in Forest Park. Forest Park sits in the heart of St. Louis and at 1,371 acres is one of the largest urban parks in the country. By comparison Central Park in New York is 843 acres. The park was dedicated June 24, 1876, and was originally four miles outside the St. Louis city limits. George Kessler, a well-known Midwestern park designer of the time, redesigned the park as a part of his master design for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. A popular myth says that Frederick Law Olmsted designed the park, fair grounds and Washington University campus. Kessler briefly worked for Olmsted as a Central Park gardener when he was in his 20s. The vistas in Forest Park seem to show Olmsted's influence.

There were 15 main palaces built for the 1904 Fair, but only one (now the Saint Louis Art Museum) was constructed as a permanent building. Today the park is an urban paradise with acres of lawns and gardens, walking trails, playing fields, several lakes, a golf course, bike and boat rentals and “the Grand Basin.” The Art Museum is the dominant architectural feature but there is an open pavilion from the Worlds Fair, the “Jewel Box” glass house, a beautiful boat house, some cafes, the Municipal Theatre, outdoor Opera and the Science Museum. A few illustrative pictures are attached.

The park's PR says that more than 10 million visitors come each year to relax, walk, play sports or attend events. Saturday was a prime day. We parked near the “Grand Basin” where a large wedding was underway. We arrived just in time for the “I dos.” The view from the Grand Basin is a classic of 19th Century park design. Water in a formal setting with fountains and row boats; marble arch bridges, then a steep lawn with the neo-classic museum at the top of the hill. People and dogs were everywhere. Wedding parties were every where. I lost count at 10 sets of brides, grooms and magenta colored bridesmaids.

We met everyone who was walking a dog and all the little kids who wanted to pet Joli. Most importantly we started to relax. Our new home has a spacious guest room. Please keep in touch and start to plan your visit to the Gateway to the West. Ed

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