Established in 1945, Berra Park sits just south of I-44 in the Hill Neighborhood between Macklind, Daggett, Lily and Shaw Avenues:
The park was named Virgo Park when the site was purchased by the city in 1945. In November, 1965 it was renamed in honor of the late Louis G. “Midge” Berra, who was a long time political force in the area, in November, 1965.
A monument was erected within the park to honor Berra. Midge was no relation to Yogi Berra who also was a figure growing up on the Hill.
In many ways, a park is a direct reflection of the neighborhood in which it resides. Berra Park epitomizes this scenario more so than any other St. Louis park I've seen to date. Ethnic pride, cleanliness, local investment and community are all clearly evident on the Hill. There are maybe more businesses and ethnically driven (Italian-American) places than any other neighborhood in St. Louis. It's a great neighborhood and destination place for the region. The humble homes that hug the park are classic Hill homes, neat & tidy, built close together and facing the street...usually within walking distance to some delicious Mediterranean treats. Berra Park has 2 deli/restaurants within eye shot.
The park shares the local Italian-American heritage and pride...and it's only getting better. Support of the local business community is evident from the trash cans to the monuments within the park.
The Hill Business Association donated trash cans
PBM = Professional Business Men
The baseball fields are maintained and in excellent condition, the best I've seen. Note the nod to the Italian flag, the locked equipment boxes and painted utilities and clean/intact bleachers.
The pavilion is in great shape, the picnic tables are not bolted down nor locked together, so they are moveable should a party take place in the park...and the park is definitely used for parties.
The playground is in excellent condition and clean as a whistle.
Upon my visit there were several pallets of stone pavers that are being used to line the structured plantings.
There is a clean and painted water source, adjacent to an irrigation system to water and maintain the plants. This is probably not the handiwork of the Park's Dept, rather the hard work and dedication of neighbors.
There are nice, unique benches installed at several locations.
There is new playground equipment for little ones ready for installation in an area formerly occupied with pea gravel and older playground equipment.
staging for new install
site for the new kiddie playground
Hopefully the pea gravel will be replaced with rubber surface.
The main playground is bordered with burning bushes, creating a barrier and private outdoor "room" for the kids to play.
The neighborhood is clearly partnering with the city in positive and fruitful ways as dead trees are being removed and new installations are underway.
It has been my experience that this stuff doesn't just happen magically, it has to be driven and demanded by the neighbors. The organized, hard workers and diligent get attention and those that don't care have parks that look like no one cares. Community has to rally around parks if they are to reflect the pride of the surrounding area.
Berra Park is the best example of this. Shoot there are even bike racks!!!
There is not much I'd fix about this park. If I was being picky, I guess I'd say getting the volleyball court asphalt torn up and replaced with sand would be more inviting for kids.
I'd also dig horseshoe pits for the area that seems to be begging for this.
And if I was really picky, I'd bust our some asphalt behind the playground benches, install a berm and plant red maples for some shade, flanked by native grasses for parents sitting watching the kids.
Berra Park is just another source of pride for the Hill neighborhood. Congrats to all those who clearly advocate for the park and are being good stewards for the next generations.
The Hill and Berra Park make St. Louis a better place!