St. Louis Forest Park
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Liberal Arts Bridge in Forest Park
Liberal Arts Bridge, located between the Boathouse and the Muny, just southwest of Pagoda Circle, will close Tuesday, September 5, as Forest Park Forever begins a $3.1 million improvement project. Rendering of Completed Project courtesy Forest Park Forever

Infrastructure Improvements Begin in Forest Park
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), September 3, 2017 - A major restoration project will soon greatly improve the visitor experience in the heart of Forest Park, between the Boathouse and the Muny, just southwest of Pagoda Circle. This $3.1 million improvement project, funded by donations to Forest Park Forever's $130 million capital campaign Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park's Future, seeks to holistically improve this area.

First, there will be significant natural enhancements to the flowing waterway in the area known as the Muny Tributary and the surrounding grounds - removing invasive species, making the shoreline more attractive and approachable, adding a stepping-stone crossing and boulder seating, and more.

And second, Liberal Arts Bridge will be demolished in preparation for a new, safer bridge connecting Government Drive to Pagoda Circle and featuring updated sidewalks, new crossings and a new connection to Forest Park's path system. With the bridge being demolished on Tuesday, September 5, 2017, visitors should prepare to use alternate routes at that time.

Highlights include:

  • New areas for visitors to picnic and enjoy the Park
  • Boulder seating, a stepping-stone crossing and a new bench
  • 42 new trees and new plantings, native and of diverse species
  • Naturalistic stream edges that will allow for better water flow
  • New underwater input with remote activation to conserve water
  • A new bridge designed in the style of other Forest Park bridges
  • Additional sidewalk along Government Drive
  • An enhanced crosswalk with vehicular and pedestrian stop signs to improve safety
  • A connection to the popular recreational path used by walkers, runners and bikers
The new bridge is scheduled to open to visitors this winter. The project in its entirety is expected to last through spring 2018.

Visitor Tips: To access the Boathouse during construction, enter Government Drive from the southwest at Washington Drive, Fine Arts Drive or Wells Drive. Parallel parking is available along Government Drive, and the Boathouse Parking Lot will be open during construction.

Alternate Boathouse Parking Option: Use the Visitor Center Parking Lot (orange circle at top center), park in the southwest corner of the lot and take the pedestrian/bike path (that runs along the eastside of Dwight Davis Tennis Center), cross over the wooden footbridge and follow path to the Boathouse entrance. This is a leisurely 3-minute walk.


Fountain at World's Fair Pavilion
The fountain on Government Hill beneath the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park.

Forest Park Is the 'Crown Jewel' of St. Louis
In 1876, Forest Park was created from 1,371 acres of land west of downtown St. Louis. By the 1890s, the public park was widely used for recreation with bicycle paths, baseball diamonds and lawn tennis courts. An expanded lake provided parkgoers with an opportunity for boating in the summer and skating in the winter. Funds were raised to develop the St. Louis Zoo by the Forest Park Zoological Association.

The western half of the metropolitan park was used as the site for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. Today, the Saint Louis Art Museum occupies one of the few remaining structures built for the Fair. The Missouri Historical Society is comprised of the new Emerson Electric Center and the Jefferson Memorial Building. The building was the first memorial built to honor Thomas Jefferson and was funded with proceeds from the 1904 Fair.

A natural amphitheater near Art Hill was developed as The Muny in 1917 with proceeds from a theatrical production called the Pageant and Masque which was performed on a stage built over part of the Grand Basin.

In 1936, an Art Deco-style Conservatory opened in Forest Park. The Jewel Box is surrounded by rose gardens, lily ponds, statuary and monuments and houses seasonal displays.

The site of a razed Mounted Police Station became space for the McDonnell Planetarium which was completed in 1963. In 1984, the city sold the Planetarium to the Museum of Science and Natural History. The building, renamed the St. Louis Science Center, is connected by a highway overpass and tunnel to its new headquarters, south of Forest Park.

Private donors to Forest Park Forever paid for the $1.1 million restoration of the World's Fair Pavilion. The current renovation is the first of three scheduled phases of Forest Park Master Plan. Forest Park is used by more than 13 million visitors a year. Forest Park Forever was founded in 1986 to work in partnership with the Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry to rehabilitate and maintain the Forest Park as the "Crown Jewel" of the metropolitan area.

Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and the Great Forest Park Balloon Race have been relocated to Art Hill due to construction on Central Fields. The Concours d'Elegance and Easter Car Show is held on the Muny upper parking lot.


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