DeSoto Park, formerly DeSoto Playground, is 1of 108 St. Louis parks. It was placed into ordinance in 1908; but, per the city website the park was expanded to the 17.38 acres it is now back in the 1950's to accommodate the residents of Pruitt-Igoe:
To provide for the recreational needs of the many families residing in the Pruitt, Igoe and Vaughn housing projects, the City acquired the site for a new DeSoto Park in 1952. This Park replaced the smaller DeSoto Playground that was swallowed up by the housing development.
The park is located in the 2100 block of Carr Street in the Carr Square neighborhood just north of Downtown.
See that huge green swath of land just south of Cass Avenue? That is the site of the former Pruitt-Igoe housing development. For a fantastic history of that debacle watch the excellent documentary the Pruitt-Igoe Myth.
Today, this vast swath of land is a massive overgrown grove of cottonwoods, honeysuckle and other invasive species. The clearing you seen in the image above is a power source. Other than that, not much to see.
The area south of the park is largely contemporary, non-descript warehouses. GPX and Sigma-Aldrich are listed as tenants, but the Sigma signage has been removed.
The homes to the north and east of the park are contemporary houses as well. There is very little of the classic St. Louis architecture left here as it has all been destroyed. Also to the north is the famous Polish-American St. Stanislaus Kostka church.
There is promise of more contemporary housing in the area in the Loretta Hall Town homes slated for the Spring of 2014. This low-income housing will be subsidized by public monies.
To the west of the property are 2 schools. The Gateway Schools complex and Pruitt School which was opened in 1955 to serve the families in the Pruitt-Igoe complexes.
Pruitt School is the 4-story building that can be seen in the center of this photo of Pruitt-Igoe...also visible is St. Stanislaus Kostka directly to the right of the high rises.
DeSoto Park was hopping on my visit. There was a huge Ward 5 Community Development festival. This was set up to give away free stuff and info related to jobs, school supplies and recreation opportunities in the city's north side. Music, bounce-houses, etc was set up and the event was greatly attended.
Soul Train...this train was giving rides and blaring rap music from the speakers...I love it.
Also there for the kids was alpaca, llama, horses, donkeys, geese, etc for the kids to pet/ride. In fact the people running the biz with the animals were so nice I want to give them a plug.
Eagle Eye Traveling Petting Zoo
There is a walking path around the perimeter of the park.
The coolest thing I learned today was from talking to some guys who just got back from the Real Madrid-Inter Milan match Downtown. They were kicking the ball around. I struck up a conversation and it turns out DeSoto Park is the site of a long-running adult semi-pro soccer league. It is played on Sunday's and it is an International scene with players from Mexico, Central and South America, Bosnia, Croatia, Poland, of course old time St. Louis guys, etc. These guys described an awesome scene where the families of the players cook out and socialize while watch the games. The fields are in good condition as are the goals.
Man, I love St. Louis, I learn something new with every visit to these places I'd never go if it weren't for this project of mine.
These guys invited me to bring my family and join in on the fun...I will.