Forest Park | St. Louis Public Radio

Forest Park

Forest Park Forever

A $3.1 million project in Forest Park begins Tuesday with the demolition of a bridge that connects Government Drive to Pagoda Circle, requiring visitors to find a detour through the park until construction is completed.  

The Liberal Arts Bridge is one of the last of the bridges in the park slated for replacement, said Lesley Hoffarth, president of Forest Park Forever. The site is between the Boathouse and The Muny.

Forest Park turns 140 years old this year.
henskechristine | Flickr

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?

A pond inside the John F. Kennedy Memorial Forest in Forest Park. July 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Ecologist Amy Witt of Forest Park Forever was leading a nature walk through the John F. Kennedy Memorial Forest, a wooded habitat on the park’s southwestern edge. There are trees here that are older than the 1,300-acre park, which the city of St. Louis opened in 1876.

“They’re awesome. Right? We have some really old trees. We have some really young trees. That’s the natural regeneration of a forest and of a habitat,’’ Witt said. “We are called Forest Park for a reason.’’

Campers listen to Katie Dreas of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service explain foliage during a summer camp at Little Creek Nature Center on July 17, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Children benefit from a balanced diet of screen time and outdoors time, studies show.

In the St. Louis area, several camps and summer youth jobs focus on environmental education and exploration. St. Louis Public Radio visited a smattering of them to see what kids are learning.

File photo: Under the leadership of Rick Dildine, attendance at Shakespeare Festival St. Louis has grown by 55 percent and contributed revenue has increased 38 percent.
Provided | Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The executive and artistic director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis is resigning to take another job.

Rick Dildine will become artistic director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival on Aug. 1.

Dildine, who joined the St. Louis organization in 2009, resigned once before, in 2014. He took a similar position in Lennox, Massachusetts and returned one year later.

Bombus balteatus, commonly known as the golden-belted bumblebee, pollinates a sky pilot in Colorado.
Candace Galen

When  a native bee received federal protection under the Endangered Species Act for the first time earlier this year, it drew an attention to a growing public concern.

Many  bee species in the United States have become threatened or have declined sharply in the last couple decades. Since native bees are crucial to pollinating crops, scientists are making a major push to keep track of them.

Researchers at Webster University and the Saint Louis Zoo are inviting residents to help the effort by leading a bee photo survey in Forest Park this Saturday. Images taken at the St. Louis Bee Blitz will help scientists better understand the abundance of various native species that live in the area.

Workers attach straps to the granite top of the Confederate Memorial in Forest Park on June 8, 2017.
Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Updated at 11:20 a.m. June 8th with removal of statue's top — Work began Thursday morning in Forest Park to take down the controversial Confederate Memorial.

Crews removed the top of the statue a day after the St. Louis streets department set up barricades in the area. A spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson said it will take a while to remove the monument completely.

Forest Park Forever Nature Works field coordinator Billy Haag holds a turtle trap at a manmade waterway in the park.
Courtesy of Forest Park Forever

Scientists have started to take stock of the turtles that live in Forest Park to protect them from upcoming construction projects and improve their habitat.

The project, called the Wildlife Impact Mitigation and Inventory Plan, aims to catalog the different species that live in the park, particularly along a 2.5-mile waterway. 

Forest Park Trolleys will operate on two routes beginning Saturday, April 13 2017.
Marie Schwarz | St. Louis Public Radio

Beginning Saturday, the Forest Park bus trolley will have two routes instead of one. The blue route and green route will serve attractions in the western and eastern parts of the park separately.

 

The two different routes will help with passenger convenience and easier navigation through the park, said Ray Friem, executive director of Metro Transit.

 

Charles and Samantha, the new "it" couple from the community of Great Horned Owls in Forest Park.
Mark Glenshaw | Forest Park Owls

“The Bachelor” has returned to the airwaves this week but even that reality television show would be hard pressed to measure up to the level of drama, intrigue and flirtation found among a community of Great Horned Owls that make their home in Forest Park.

Mark Glenshaw has been observing the lotharios and seductresses of the owl community for the past 11 years in Forest Park. He describes this year’s owl happenings as more dramatic than most.

A comparison of improved crosswalks and additional sidewalks before and after the project on Government and Wells Drives.
Provided | Forest Park Forever

Another long-awaited construction project is coming to Forest Park.

The southwest entrance to the park off Skinker Boulevard is closing Wednesday for six months so workers can rebuild the sections of Government Drive and Wells Drive leading up to the St. Louis Zoo’s paid parking lots.

Forest Park Forever president and executive director Lesley Hoffarth said public input will help guide future changes and upgrades at the city's most well-known green space.
Flickr |ChrisYunker

A new MetroLink station and improved bike lanes are among nine possible long-range strategies being considered to transform how people get around St. Louis’ Forest Park.

St. Louis officials and Forest Park Forever, a nonprofit group, reviewed the results of public input over the course of nine months, including 1,300 responses to an online survey and comments from open house meetings. They publicly presented the refined list of suggested improvements during an open house Thursday.

Bjorn Ranheim of The 442s warms up while awaiting a collaborator.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

When 15-year-old Caroline Luethy saw a lime-green piano in Forest Park, she was immediately taken by the chance to play in a lush setting.

Luethy, of Groton, Conn., approached the piano with a mix of anxiety and excitement. She sat down and started to improvise with chords, evoking a somber moment, like that of a movie soundtrack.

Forest Park turns 140 years old this year.
henskechristine | Flickr

St. Louisans have plenty to be proud of when it comes to Forest Park. In the summer, the park is bustling with musicals, plays, cool museums and many other recreational activities. Recently, the park was voted the best urban park in the United States by USA Today. It also made it onto a list of the nation’s best city parks, curated by Thrillist.

Nancy Anderson as Titania in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
J. David Levy | Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

It has been a bloody two summers in Shakespeare Glen in Forest Park.

“The past two years have been a lot of death on stage,” said Rick Dildine, artistic and executive director of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. “There is a high body count. Henry IV, Henry V, Antony and Cleopatra … I wanted something that ended with marriage and happiness.”

Austin and Ryan Jacobs share the role of Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Tim Carter is with Ryan on the right. Carter plays the role of Oberan.
J. David Levy

“What fools these mortals be!” Puck famously utters in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

St. Louis audiences may be fooled in Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' production that lets the spritely Puck be two places at once.  The secret?  Puck is played by identical twins, Austin and Ryan Jacobs, transplants from Houston.

The brothers, who just graduated from Webster University, join us for our latest Cut & Past podcast to talk about sharing the role in the play and a childhood on the stage. “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opens Friday in Forest Park.

Flo Rida
Flickr Creative Commons |Flo Rida Wild Ones Tour T-Mobile ROCK4G and Walmart Soundcheck

Fair St. Louis announced today that Lee Brice, Sammy Hagar and Flo Rida will headline Fair St. Louis this July Fourth weekend. The announcement confirms one headliner that was leaked earlier in the year and reveals two more. George Clinton's appearance on July 4 had also been disclosed previously.

Image from Forever: The Campaign for Forest Park's Future
Provided by Michael Eastman and Forest Park Forever

Forest Park Forever is celebrating its 30th anniversary by giving three artists $3,000 each.

The money is a stipend for three, three-week-long residencies in the park from May to September. Stephen Schenkenberg, the organization’s strategic communications director, says the project’s intended to answer the question:

“How can we celebrate in a way that the community ultimately gets something new, someone’s new interpretation or expression of what the park means?”

Charles stretches.
Mark Glenshaw

On December 29, Mark Glenshaw celebrated his 10th anniversary of monitoring a pair of Great Horned Owls in Forest Park. The amateur naturalist made his first appearance on “St. Louis on the Air” two years ago to introduce listeners to the pair he had dubbed Charles and Sarah. In April of this year he returned to report on the birth of the couple’s offspring, a pair of owlets whom he later named Harold and Grace. At that time he described the parents as the “Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt” of Great Horned Owls.

Runners pass the Confederate Monument in Forest Park.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

Mayor Francis Slay wants a memorial to Confederate war dead out of Forest Park — a move that means the 101-year-old granite statue will likely head to storage.

Forest Park Forever president and executive director Lesley Hoffarth said public input will help guide future changes and upgrades at the city's most well-known green space.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Forest Park Forever wants to hear from the public about how people enter, get around and access attractions at the green space in the heart of the city.

Forest Park Forever and the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis open a new outdoor playing area
Wayne Pratt|St. Louis Public Radio

There is now another spot in St. Louis for chess lovers to enjoy the game in the great outdoors.

Forest Park Forever has partnered with the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis on four outdoor, concrete tables near Steinberg Skating Rink.

The area is designed to attract more people to that section of the park throughout the year and expose more people, especially youngsters, to chess.

Hozier Loufest 2015
Jess Luther | St. Louis Public Radio

According to festival organizers, LouFest this year brought a record number of music fans to the event in Forest Park. Promoters estimated attendance for the weekend at roughly 50,000 people. Last year attendance was roughly 36,000. Though attendance was high, people pointed out things they hope will change next year.

Sarah sleeps.
Mark Glenshaw

Updated 5:20 p.m., Sept. 7 with news about Sarah’s passing

Amateur naturalist Mark Glenshaw on Monday reported that Sarah, a beloved Great Horned Owl in Forest Park, has died.

Glenshaw had followed the pair of mated Great Horned Owls for nearly 10 years.

Rendering of a marker at the I-64, Skinker Boulevard and Wells Drive entrance to the park.
SWT Design | Provided by Forest Park Forever

In response to a story about the markers project published two weeks ago, we’ve had thoughtful responses to the entrances-to-the-park issue. Some harkened back to Lawrence Halprin’s proposal for elaborate gates that was hooted down and abandoned in 2001; others expressed ideas about the current plan, created by SWT Design, St. Louis.

World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

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.

Entrances to Forest Park will be clearly marked.
Provided by Forest Park Forever

Call them entry markers or portals or entrances or doorways — call them by any of those names, just don’t call these in-the-works architectural structures planned to start appearing around Forest Park in the spring “gates.”

Why?  Almost 14 years ago a grand plan for elaborately designed ceremonial gates fell into an unceremonious heap.

Sarah Kellogg

Despite construction around Forest Park, Fair St. Louis officials say they are ready for the large crowds expected to attend this week’s event.

This is the second year Forest Park is hosting the three-day event after construction on the Arch grounds forced it to change locations.

Host Don Marsh speaks with Lesley Hoffarth, president and executive director of Forest Park Forever.
Áine O'Connor | St. Louis Public Radio

Since opening in 1876, Forest Park has been one of St. Louis’ go-to spots for the city’s most notable events, including the 1904 World’s Fair. With landmarks such as the Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Zoo and The Muny, the 1300-acre park has earned its reputation as “one of the most beautiful urban parks in the world.”

Mathias Gasteiger, German, 1871-1934; Hercules and the Hydra, 1921-30; bronze; 95 ½ x 77 x 56 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Funds given anonymously 1:1930
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The 15 year-long renovation of the St. Louis Art Museum has finally reached completion. Museum director Brent Benjamin said he hopes the completed sculpture garden will be as well received as the rest of the museum’s changes.

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