Visitors will have a new reason to love Forest Park in the coming years: a new interactive digital map. Forest Park Forever’s Director of Strategic Communications Stephen Schenkenberg, 41, assures people the new map will provide an array of useful services for first timers and for those who think they know every inch of the park.
“The people who are here once a week, say, we see them bringing this up on their phone and finding a natural area or a water feature they haven’t been to in a while,” said Schenkenberg, “and definitely first-time visitors can be overwhelmed with the incredible amount of information we have.”
The map is designed to provide directions and highlight locations but also includes history about specific buildings and locations. Visitors can also learn more about plants in nature locations and rental information about specific sites. The map features more than 100 park locations. Before the map’s launch, St. Louis Public Radio spoke with park goers about whether they thought this type of product would be useful.
Rachel Bebe and Daniel Bebe, both 23, were using a phone to find their way from the zoo to the hotel on the edge of the park. When asked if they could have used a park-specific map containing landmarks and locations, they agreed.
“Because we used the map for the Zoo and it was really helpful so if the whole park had one we’d definitely use it,” said Daniel.
Schenkenberg said the new map offers more details about the park than are available on something like Google maps.
“The content is very custom created for the Forest Park visitor rather than just what Google is able to find and set up,” he said.
Osvaldo Laurido, 27, is a resident at Barnes Hospital and spends a fair amount in the park. He thinks the map could be useful.
“Half the time there’s not a meeting point or a map point till you walk 15 minutes to a half an hour, so it’d be nice to have something precise based in terms of north, south, and trails,” he said.
Sister Megan McElroy, OP, uses the park frequently and finds it a place she can spend time in contemplation and prayer. She says she gets asked for directions every once-in-a-while.
“I’m not one who uses the digital world too much but I would think those that do use apps would find it very helpful,” said McElroy.
Schenkenberg says the map’s developers will try to use visitor and user feedback to continue developing the map.
“We’re going to be listening to how people are using it, what do they understand really easily, what do they need more help understanding,” he said. “What’s great is this isn’t a static project.”
He hopes that feedback will continue to the evolution of a product enhancing people’s experience of the park going forward.