he park itself is actually quite well done. There are stairs on all sides that lead to the center of the park which is really a just a simple circle with some plantings. The perimeter contains Linden's and Red Bud which make for some great shade.
This park has arguably the most unique topography in all of the city. It is in low lying land that looks up to the surrounding homes. The unconventional winding streets are not common for St. Louis where the recti-linear street grid rules in most of the city.
This neighborhood with its mix of larger frame Victorian style houses is quite unique for St. Louis. In fact, it reminds me of the small suburban city of Webster Groves, MO (pop. 22,989). The Victorian stylings seem to flow down through the park from the surrounding neighborhood creating winding walkways that all seem to lead toward the lake that is really the heart of the 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.
Chouteau Park is just largely a graded empty lot right now, awaiting funds to become a fully realized park space. The design was done by H3 studios in 2009 who seem to be the firm that does all the park designs/master plans (Fox Park, Carondelet, etc).
The full plan can be found here. An update was provided by Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corp. back in November, 2011...
The vast majority of this park is really just grass from the outfields of both fields.
The exception is the southeastern section which is quite shaded with nice large and newly planted trees. This section of the park has swings and a playground and a building with storage and bathrooms. It was locked
The park is the first I've visited with a swimming pool. It appeared to be in really nice condition and it was good to see. Moms with kids in tow ranging from little ones to teens were present cooling off on a typically scorching July St. Louis day. There was a lifeguard and security guard on duty and this pool is free to all St. Louis residents.
Carondelet Lions Park...no not that Carondelet Park, the other one. This park is located in the Carondelet Neighborhood, right in the shadow of the awesome, recently renovated Coca-Cola syrup plant, now called the Temtor that houses the delicious Perennial Artisan Ales...and has a lot of people living there now within its apartments.
This part of the park looks used and with a little more hard work could become a real asset to the neighborhood. The curb appeal of the park would improve by with more hardscape to define the space around the center planting and provide some structure and curb appeal.
The southern section of the park is a blank slate...literally just a mowed field of grass/weeds and a couple random trees. There was a recent bump out along the sidewalk for a water fountain that does not work or is not turned on, but it looks nice.
This isn't really a park at all rather a narrow strip of land between Broadway and Calvary Avenue which splits the 2 historic cemeteries. If I weren't a completist, I'd have skipped this "park".
Nothing to report here other than some new trees planted and a crumbling stairway that is impassable and unusable.
Famous poet and writer Maya Angelou grew up near Buder Park on Caroline street and attended Toussaint L'Ouverture Grammar School just around the way. I wish the African-American community did a better job of embracing the history and the meaningful black contributions to this city. There should be something commemorating Ms. Angelou's time here but I couldn't find anything. If anyone knows the exact address that Ms. Angelou spent parts of her childhood, please let me know.
Sadly, the park has seen a lack of interest from the neighbors over time. I doubt anyone would say this is a positive space nor asset to the neighborhood. That's not to say there isn't tremendous potential as the park was built up to rise above Hickory Street and providing excellent views of Downtown and Midtown.
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 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.
If you don't know, Benton Park is one of those south city neighborhoods that has seen amazing grassroots rehabs throughout the neighborhood. This trend continues even in these slow markets, as nearly all the homes on the north side of the park are "done"; there was rehab work on one of the remaining board ups on my visit today.
I ran into a guy with a metal detector, and we struck up a conversation about what we were both doing, me with a camera, him with a metal detector. We chatted for ~ 10 minutes on the history of the park and the neighborhood. He has been in Wells Goodfellow since the 1960s and told some great stories. He said there was a large population of Jewish and Italian Americans living around the park leading up to the 1950s. They started to leave in the 60s and that's when black folks settled in (the 2010 Census data indicates 98% black population). This part of the city is bleeding residents. People can't get out fast enough as 28% of the residential base took off for greener pastures from 2000-2010.
Man, do I love North City. The way these neighborhoods were laid out is simply amazing. It seems like there was more wealth in its heyday, meaning more mansions than the South Side which I know much better. Today my visit took place on a Sunday, a great day to witness the scores of middle aged and older black people dressed to the T's and looking sharp, socializing and showing up in droves to the many, many churches. It's a scene I love.
Anyhow, Amherst Park is one of those parks that is brimming with potential.
As the city started losing population at a staggering rate, there was less need for business and housing...hence, we get more building demolition and are left with easier to maintain park space. Unfortunately, as go the buildings and people so goes the well planned, dense city. Anyhow, we lost a lot of tax generating, vibrancy-creating properties and now we have parks. Albeit...a very beautiful one in the case of Aloe Plaza.
Aloe Plaza West is really nothing more than grass, a few trees and homeless tents and debris.
What this park does provide is an area to walk the dog, a place to sit/rest and a small set of trees and shrubs to attract birds and other small wildlife. One thing you can't help but notice while walking in the park was the smells of coniferous trees and perennial flowers meshing with the smells of barley from the ABI brewery...another great organic scent...one truly unique to this part of town. The narrow strip of land is too small for building, so this park seems a very appropriate use of this space.
The park has several nice benches and logically placed trash cans. There are bike racks to secure your bike (although I'm not sure why, as the park is so small you could see your bike from anywhere in the park).