Sunday, August 4, 2013

Christy Park

Christy Park, according to the city website, is comprised of 16.1 acres of park land, established in 1910.  There are no official boundaries listed on that website, so I can only assume that Christy Park and Joseph Leisure Parks are one in the same.  There is actually a band of parks that start at Kingshighway and Christy and head south and east toward the River Des Peres, following the Great Rivers Greenway Trail starting near Christy and Holly Hills Boulevards.

The parks website really isn't much of a help determining which park is which, in fact, Joseph Leisure isn't even listed on the city website. St. Marcus Park is recognized by the city, so I will assume that it starts south of Holly Hills where Christy ends.

Christy and Joseph Leisure Parks border the Bevo, Boulevard Heights, Southampton and Princeton Heights neighborhoods.

Google maps has Christy Park ending at Eichelberger...but what about the mystery spaces outlined in red below.  The park sign at Holly Hills and Christy says Joseph Leisure...so, I'm going with it.


Anyhow...Christy Park takes its name from William Tandy Christy, who founded the firm which became the Laclede-Christy Fire Brick Company.


In 1856 the Christy Fireclay Company was founded in St. Louis, and from the beginning specialized in the manufacture of fireclay refractories for the glass industry. In 1907 the Laclede Fire Brick Manufacturing Company and the Christy Fireclay Company were consolidated and incorporated under the laws of the state of Missouri as the Laclede-Christy Clay Products Company. (source)  Here's a drawing of the Laclede Brick Co circa 1854:



Photos of Bricks from BOB CORBETT'S Collection of Bricks MADE IN DOGTOWN


The company was eventually purchased by H.K. Porter on Hampton Avenue:


Anyhow, Christy Park is not even identified with a typical brown and white park sign. Joseph Leisure is:


Too bad they don't credit Christy with proper signage to ensure his legacy as a respected contributor to St. Louis history.  We do however have signage for Joseph Leisure whose family was a notorious Syrian crime family that allegedly infiltrated local unions and caused much a commotion over the years.  Read all about the Leisure Family here.  I couldn't find any info on Joseph directly.

The park starts at the intersection of Christy and Kingshighway right by one of the coolest firehouses in the city.





The park leads south from the firehouse toward one of two playgrounds.


Businesses, homes and apartment buildings face the park space.





Heading south toward Eichelberger on Christy, you will see one of the coolest scenes in South St. Louis...the Weasel Baseball Field.  South City's own version of sandlot baseball.


The field has been in Christy Park since 1996.  This is one of those great American scenes where a group of young people formed a league to play ball.  They but an American flag in the tree behind home plate which has been painted with a "W" marking their spot.


Here's a story on Weasel Field and the league from a 2007 Post-Dispatch article.
"Weasel field is looking sharp because, for the first time ever, it plays host to the playoffs for the new Weasel League, a glorified version of neighborhood baseball. The pickup ball game that used to bring a handful of kids on bikes now features six teams and more than 60 players, some of whom drive in from surrounding counties. 
One of those original kids is now 20-year-old Kenny Bollwerk, and Weasel Field has become his pet. The Vianney graduate began organizing his friends and maintaining the sandlot in 1996, and you can see the pride on his face as he walks the field. 
Over the past decade, Bollwerk has built the stadium within Christy Park. Dirt was added around each base, and a mound was built for the hurlers. And if you walk down each baseline into the outfield, you'll find a deep hole: long, bright yellow two-by-four planks are inserted into each one on game day as foul poles."
Several park benches were recently installed with plaques commemorating current and former Weasel leaguers.





Heading toward Gravois, the park flanks a VFW hall.


As you cross Gravois, the park widens as you head toward Holly Hills Boulevard.  There is simply green space on the northeastern side of Christy Boulevard and a bathroom, 2nd playground and baseball field.



I'll assume the end of the park is at Holly Hills.  


The park continues south where there is a trail head for the Great Rivers Greenway bike trail section called the River Des Peres Greenway Trail.  I can only assume this park is called St. Marcus Park, which I will get to later.

4 comments:

CH84 said...

"Christy and Joseph Leisure Parks border the Bevo, Boulevard Heights and Princeton Heights neighborhoods."

AND Southampton!!! :) Thanks for all the parks bios -- I think you've done an amazing job of filling a void as the City's site doesn't provide much info. When is the book being published? !! -Cody

Mark Groth said...

^CH84, you are totally correct, thanks for the good catch and bringing it to my attention!-Mark

nick sanchez said...

Set up a wiffleball field there on saturdays anyone is welcome to play

Daniel Garavaglia said...

I played in the weasel league and it was an amazing experience. The friendships made playing will hopefully last a lifetime.