COMMENTS ON AND QUOTES FROM THE BOOK "FOREST PARK"
At the opening day lecture the masses were assured this was their park, that it was indeed a forest park and no “keep off the grass signs” would ever be put up. (There are quite a few today.)
- Earliest park “police force” was to ensure “no malicious trespasser commit any depredations to the beautiful growth of forest trees.” The Republican reported:
“… a single unpretentious guardian and a crow-bait horse.”
- The policeman first had the building which still stands at Union and Lindell. The headquarter building was opened in 1876 complete with a basement for use “…as a Calaboose for refractory visitors.”
- "Since the construction of a street-car line to the park the youths and maidens have been thronging the lawns and sporting under big trees, and missing the cars. Now the Superintendent of the park believes that moonlight and night are all bad for young folks, and so the park is to be closed after 11 o'clock, and the park police after that hour will start out and beat the bushes and blow horns to warn the lovers to hustle and get the last car for town. If the park is to be closed it will put a stop to moonlight drives and wild orgies on the lawns in early morning hours."
- West of park considered a wilderness. Post-Dispatch reported that a park visitor got off the beaten trails and discovered the “curious habitation” of a hermit who had apparently lived undiscovered in the park for years.”
- "Residential development north and northwest of the park, extending well past the city limits, polluted the River des Peres because the extension of city sewer lines fell behind the growth of residential districts. What Thomas Scharf had described in 1883 as "a romantic little stream" was, the Post-Dispatch reported in 1894, "practically nothing less than a monster open sewer, poisoning the air with the most dangerous corruption and menace to health known, the corruption of sewage." The paper reported that the animals in the Forest Park zoo and their visitors had to breathe "the thick, gummy exhalation from the sewer creek known as the River de Peres.""
- p. 96: "Windstorms in May 1908 and July 1910 damaged trees and shrubs in Forest Park, some of which were replaced from the nursery. The spring and summer of 1911 brought particularly severe weather. In an April storm, the Post-Dispatch reported, "a mass of hail and ice fell from the clouds and covered the ground to a depth of two inches in less than two minutes."" Then in May, just as repairs were being completed, another hail storm caused serious damage, especially to the greenhouses."
- p. 97: The passage below delighted me to no end. I am one who detests the protectionism we practice today on life in general, somehow believing it is a positive thing to eliminate all danger in the world. Below is a time, much like when I grew up,
when people seem to accept some levels of risk as being part and parcel of FUN.
In January 1905, with half the park closed to visitors because of the restoration, the thousands of skaters on the available lakes in the eastern section of the park threatened to break the ice. The Globe-Democrat reported, "Danger signals have been posted at Forest park, but . . . school children can not be kept away from the ice."
- p. 103: “To the south, people moved into cheaply constructed houses in about the area where former squatters erected in the 1870s.”
- p.126: "The South Forest Park Residents' Association at first said it was "heartily in favor of the zoo." Later, a leading member of the residents' association, Anna Sneed Cairns of Forest Park University, complained that the "roar of lions and the growl of bears" frightened the young women students in the dormitories." The residents' association and others opposed the use of tax funds for the zoo, funds they said should be used for more pressing civic needs."
- p. 135: "During a 1911 heat wave Davis invited St. Louisans to escape the baking city by spending the night in the park. He asked the police to suspend enforcement of the park curfew. His successors continued the practice. Cunliff waived the curfew in 1916 on the condition that children sleeping in a park must be accompanied by at least one parent. No "objectionable dress" was permitted, but pajamas were considered proper. In 1927, the Star reported, between 500 and 700 "inhabitants from the congested districts" slept in Forest Park on newspapers, blankets, or automobile cushions. Sometimes the night's sleep was interrupted by a rain shower or by armed robbers. Pape told the Star after a 1927 incident that robberies were unusual "and the nights usually pass peaceably for the sleepers."
- p. 140: Coughlin and Anderson report without details or notes: “Like the park, the land around it filled up during the teens and twenties as the city continued to grow west, bringing conflicts between park administrators and neighbors, especially along the southern border.”
- p. 143: Some of the objections of the Cheltenham / Dogtown folks becomes clearer:
"The greatest conflict between park administrators and park neighbors occurred along the park's southern border. The park land near the southern border had long housed various dirty, ugly, or noisy support services, such as the greenhouses and the mounted police station. It was surely not a coincidence that these facilities began to cluster along the southern border as the city's wealthiest and most influential citizens began to move into the private places north of the park. The trend continued into the twentieth century, despite efforts by the South Forest Park Residents' Improvement Association, organized in 1912 by Anna Sneed Cairns and others. The association immediately pushed for a north-south road through the middle of Forest Park, but without success. In 1914 the group succeeded in persuading the city to improve Oakland Avenue from Forest Park University west to Skinker, but they couldn't get improvements to the park land that they faced across Oakland.
"From 1909 to 1917 the southern neighbors looked at the greenhouses and the children's vegetable gardens run by the recreation division. After the children's gardens closed, the city built a group of workshops for carpenters, painters, plumbers, blacksmiths, and auto mechanics, which centralized park department craftsmen near the greenhouses, while department offices remained downtown. The tree nursery moved out of Forest Park in the early teens, but the number of greenhouses continued to grow, producing coal smoke when they were heated."
- p. 188: A comment NOT true of Dogtown. (by 1976) “The park’s neighborhood had filled, in part, with residences of the wealthy St. Louisans early park proponents had hoped to attract.”