Saturday, March 8, 2014

Jackson Park

Jackson Place Park is 1 of 108 parks in St. Louis.  This 0.71 acre park was placed into ordinance in 1816 and is the second oldest in the city.

According to the book, “From Village to Neighborhood: A History of Old North St. Louis” by Miranda Rabus Rectenwald and Andrew Hurley, “Jackson Place, dedicated as a recreational park, is the second oldest park in all of St. Louis.” (source)
Jackson Place at Eleventh and North Market Streets was a "circular piece of ground" set aside for Park use for the subdivisions of North St. Louis in 1816. After its site was included with the new St. Louis City Limits of 1841, it was accepted by the City as a gift from the original owners. (source)
The City website claims Jackson Place Park is in the Columbus Square neighborhood, but per their own published boundaries, the park is actually in the Old North St. Louis Neighborhood.

The park is located at North Market and Hadley Street.  As seen in the bird's eye view below, there are a demoed homes leaving a lot of holes for infill.



And, indeed, infill is taking place as evidenced by some newer homes right by the park.  With the momentum in this part of the city, hopefully more will come.



This park has undergone a recent rebirth.  In 2009, the park got some much needed ward money and TLC.  Here's a post from the ONSL blog from June, 2009:
The work under way right now reflects the ideas and suggestions put forth by ONSL residents at community meetings coordinated by Old North St. Louis Restoration Group in April of 2008.  The neighborhood comments and reactions were collected by architect and Old North resident John Burse who drew up a plan and submitted it to the Alderwoman and the City’s Parks Department.  To their credit, these city officials took the community input seriously and made changes to the original plans. (source

You can't do much without a plan, a wish list, a goal.  Congrats to ONSL for putting the volunteer effort and passion into this park.  Without the actions of the residents, positive changes will never be realized.  It takes gumption, hard work and dedication and of course connections to get things done.

As a result, the park looks really nice.  They left the mature trees and planted many new ones creating a "private" place shielded from the nearby stretch of Interstate 70.  There is landscaping and new sidewalks.





The circle part of the park has a new pavilion and a softball field with home plate on the southwest side of the field.




Just south of the circle, there is a playground and half-court basketball goal.




Conifers were planted around the court to "shield" it from the street and the crumbling building just to the east.




I'm told that the part of the park, south of the circle, was recently added after a fire in the 1990's destroyed the building that was once here.  That building was a Peter's Brothers Dry Goods manufacturing facility. Peter's Brothers was an early department store that had a location nearby at 2600 14th Street (now

part of Crown Square). That building was later the first JC Penney in the St. 

Louis area.

The property that currently exists on the southeast side needs immediate stabilization, it is falling and blocks the sidewalk and street.  Luckily, much of this property is within the Murphy-Blair National Register Historic District and is eligible for Historic Tax Credits.  That and the fact that the property is being offered at a very reasonable price, gives hope that the building will be saved.






Meanwhile, the city's answer to public safety is a single rope of string tied at neck line from utility pole to utility pole...and toss a few cones in the holes...problem solved.





Congrats to Old North for taking control of their neighborhood and working hard to turn things around.

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