Forest Park opened in 1876 and is the former site of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. It is one of the large urban landscape parks created during the later 19th century, following the example of Central Park in New York City. At 1,293 acres, Forest Park is considerably larger than Central Park.
The park is located along the western edge of the City of St. Louis, though it is located nearly in the center of the entire metropolitan area. It is bordered by Skinker Boulevard and Washington University to the west, Highway 64/40 and Oakland Avenue to the south, Kingshighway Boulevard and Barnes-Jewish Hospital to the east, and Lindell Boulevard to the north.
At one time the River des Peres ran openly through the park, but due to sanitary concerns it was moved into a wooden box underground shortly before the World's Fair. However, as part of the park's "Master Plan", the river was brought back to the surface to link the park's lakes.
The park was dedicated June 24, 1876, and was originally four miles outside the St. Louis city limits.
George Kessler, who designed many urban parks throughout Texas and the Midwest, created a new master design for the 1904 World's Fair.
A popular myth says that Frederick Law Olmsted designed the park, fair grounds and Washington University campus. Kessler had worked briefly for Olmsted as a Central Park gardener when he was in his 20s. Furthering this confusion is that Olmstead was involved with the Forest Park in Queens, New York. Olmsted died in 1903 - a year before the fair. Olmsted however did create the master plan in 1897 for renovations to the Missouri Botanical Garden a few miles to the southeast of the park. Those plans were only partially built (construction of the two ponds).
- Forest Park - Official St. Louis Parks Department website.
- St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission Fact Sheet on Forest Park
- Forest Park Forever - an organization supporting restoration of Forest Park
- Forest Park Map (pdf)
- St. Louis BioBlitz in Forest Park
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