Whether you’re new to St. Louis or you’ve been here a long time, you’ve probably heard the factoid that Forest Park is bigger than New York’s Central Park by nearly 500 acres, clocking in at a total of 1,293 acres. It’s one of the many things we love about the park.
But how did the park come to be and how has it changed over time to become what it is today?
On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, author Don Corrigan, who recently co-authored a book about the history of the park, joined host Don Marsh to discuss.
The park was built 140 years ago, opening in 1876, for $15 million. It brought together people of many different stripes to make it happen.
"When you look at politics now, you wonder 'how did people pull this together?' They found a common interest," Corrigan said. "You had real estate people who wanted a good park to build homes around. You had factory owners who wanted immigrants to do recreation in the park. Of course, you had the politicians looking for jobs to give to their constituents."
The planners, too, had an eye for the park to become host to the 1904 World's Fair, which it would, bringing some 13 million people to the park to partake.
"The planners always had in mind they would bring the park back to where it was when the fair was over," Corrigan said. "They just couldn't do that. It had changed the park so much. They buried the Des Peres River, they built buildings that would stay and they realized they had something good that shouldn't disappear."
Listen to the full discussion of the history and evolution of the park here:
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.