Forest Park was dedicated at a large public ceremony on June 24, 1876 - the year the nation celebrated its centennial anniversary. Ulysses S. Grant was President and, on the same afternoon, General George Armstrong Custer was massing his troops to attack Sitting Bull and the Sioux nation near a small Montana stream called the Little Big Horn
Maximillian G. Kern, Forest Park superintendent and landscape gardener, designed the Park's original plan. Kern also designed parks at the Compton Hill and Chain of Rocks Reservoirs. The 1874 survey by Julius Pitzman showed that Forest Park consisted of 1,371.75 acres, and today it is still one of the largest urban parks in the country
In 1904, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World's Fair) drew over 19 million visitors from around the world to Forest Park. Of the 15 main palaces built for the Fair, only the Cass-Gilbert-designed Palace of Fine Arts (known as Saint Louis Art Museum) was constructed as a permanent building
Originally four miles outside the City limit, Forest Park today sits in the heart of St. Louis. More than 10 million visitors come to the park each year to participate in softball, cricket, rugby, tennis, golf, archery, lacrosse and soccer. They also ride bikes, ice and roller skate, roller-blade, jog, fish and ride horseback. An estimated half million people attend special events, such as the Great Forest Park Balloon Race and an additional half million patronize the Muny.
1. The Missouri History Museum is located in the Jefferson Memorial Building. The building was the first memorial built to honor Thomas Jefferson, and was funded with proceeds from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and World's Fair. The museum's collections include artifacts and decorative items from St. Louis' colonial days, items representative of the Plains Indian cultures, and many items connected with Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic "Spirit of St. Louis" flight. The Emerson Center, a 92,000-square-foot facility was opened in 2000. The History Museum is open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (8:00 p.m. each Tuesday). Admission is free unless noted. For information, call 314-746-4599.
2. The Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center (formerly the Lindell Pavilion) was built in 1892 as a shelter for streetcar passengers, and was remodeled in 1914 for use by golf and tennis players. A 1925 fire destroyed most of the original building, leaving only the clock tower which was incorporated in the replacement structure. The facility is now home to Forest Park Forever, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising private funds for the restoration of Forest Park. The organization maintains its offices and disperses visitor information at the west entrance of the Lindell Pavilion. For information, call 314-367-7275.
The Visitor and Education Center is also home to the Missouri Department of Conservation; OASIS; 3,790 square foot Trolley Room, and a snack bar. For rental information, call (314) 961-7588, ext. 221.
3. The Cabanne House was built in 1876 as the Parkkeeper's house. The St. Louis Ambassadors, a civic organization which recently restored the house, is located there. The elegant Second Empire-style house and its ground can be rented for parties and meetings by calling 314-454-1488.
4. The Dwight F. Davis Tennis Center opened in 1966 and is named for the donor of the Davis Cup International tennis trophy. Davis also served as St. Louis Parks Commissioner. He brought active recreation and tennis to Forest Park in 1912. Supported by private donations and city fundings, the Center offers 19 lighted championship courts and a stadium court. The Center is open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. during the season. For information, call 314-361-0177.
5. The Post-Dispatch Lake and Boat House Restaurant are open once again. Row boats and paddle boats are available for rent, when weather permits. Visitors have an opportunity to share the century-old tradition of boating in Forest Park. For more information, call 314-961-7588, ext. 221.
6. The Muny (The Municipal Theatre) has offered musical theater in an outdoor setting since 1919. The 11,500 seat amphitheatre features Broadway shows from mid-June through mid-August. For ticket and performance information, call 314-361-1900.
7. Central Fields is the site of the annual Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and Great Forest Park Balloon Race, on the third weekend of September.
8. The Mark C. Steinberg Memorial Skating Rink has been a popular attraction since 1957, and was made possible through a generous donation from the Steinberg Charitable Trust. One of the largest outdoor skating rinks, the facility offers ice skating during the winter and roller skating during the summer. For information about operating hours and skate rental fees, call 314-361-RINK (7465).
9 - 10. The Norman K. Probstein Community Golf Courses and Youth Learning Center are managed by American Golf. The Norman K. Probstein Community Golf Courses have been reconfigured utilizing a Hale Irwin design which includes three new, distinct, nine-hole courses which will be named for native Missouri Trees: Dogwood, Hawthorne and Redbud. Each course may be played separately or combined with another for an 18-hole round. Call 314-367-1337 for greens fees, tee times and course information.
11. The Saint Louis Art Museum was originally built as the Fine Arts Palace of the 1904 World's Fair. The Museum has splendid collections of fine and decorative arts, representing a broad variety of the world's cultures. The Oceanic, Pre-Columbian and German Expressionist collections and the mummy display are highly acclaimed. In addition, the Museum offers lectures, films and live performances.
Museum hours: Tuesday to Sunday, open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays - open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The Museum and its galleries are accessible to persons with disabilities.
Admission to the Saint Louis Art Museum is free. Admission to featured exhibitions is free on Friday. For more information, call 314-721-0072.
12. The Saint Louis Zoo is a state-of-the-art biopark. It is home to over 6,000 animals, including many exotic and endangered species, and offers an array of educational courses and special events. Its Living World facility houses highly acclaimed, interactive exhibits of the biological world. Additional attractions include the Children's Zoo, Zooline Railroad, sea lion shows, and the bird house.
The Zoo is open all year from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with no admission fee. During the summer, the Zoo remains open to the public until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays for special demonstrations. Call 314-781-0900 for information about show schedules and special events.
13. The World's Fair Pavilion was built in 1910 as a shelter and refreshment stand for the benefit of the public and was a gift to the City from the World's Fair Board of Directors. Located on top of the Government Hill, it offers some of the most beautiful views in Forest Park. Call 314-535-1503 for information use permits and fees for special events.
14.The Jewel Box has delighted visitors since 1936. Designed by William Becker, an engineer with the City's Board of Public Service, the Art Deco-style Conservatory has been widely hailed for its radical engineering and its design quality. The building is surrounded by rose gardens, lily ponds, statuary and monuments, and season floral displays. In addition to floral displays and seasonal exhibits throughout the year, the Jewel Box is also a popular location for wedding ceremonies.
For information, including days and times of availability, contact the Permit Section of the Park Department, 314-289-5389. Admission is $1.
15. The Highlands Golf & Tennis Center, (formerly Triple A Golf and Tennis Club), is open to the public and offers a 9-hole golf course and brand new driving range. In addition, there are 13 updated clay tennis courts and restaurant and banquet facility. Operating hours differ by season. For information, call 314-531-7773.
16. - 17. The Saint Louis Science Center offers hours of fun and learning at its newly renovated James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park, which is surrounded by a Dinosaur Park and hands-on outdoor exhibits. The expanded center on Oakland features more than 600 free exhibits on ecology and environment, aviation, space sciences and technology, in addition to an OMNIMAX Theater with a four-story screen.
The Science Center summer hours (first Monday in June-Labor Day): Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, from 9 am - 6 pm; Tuesday and Friday, from 9 am - 9 pm. Regular hours (day after Labor Day-first Sunday in June): Sunday thru Thursday, Saturday, from 9 am - 5 pm; and Friday, from 9 am - 9 pm. Admission to Science Center is free. For ticket prices to Planetarium, call 314-289-4400 or 1-800-456-7572.
18. Turtle Park is a unique play area featuring seven giant land turtles. The turtles are the work of sculptor Robert Cassilly. It is located just south of Highway 40 at the northwest corner of Tamm and Oakland avenues.
19. The Forest Park Biking/Walking Path is 5.6 miles long with parallel hard and soft surfaces around the outer edges of the park. The 10-foot wide hard surface is made of asphalt to accommodate biking and rollerblading. The 10-foot wide soft surface is limestone chip for walkers, joggers and others traveling at a slower pace. Additional biking paths run throughout the park. An exercise par-course is located along the path at the north edge of the Park, between Lindell Boulevard and Grand Drive. Bicycles are available for rental by calling City Cycling Tours at 314-616-5724.
20. The City parks operation, which oversees 100 public parks, is located in the Department of Parks Recreation and Forestry administrative offices and greenhouse complex. For information, call 314-535-0100.