Photograph by WPhotography
There are those St. Louisans—thousands? millions?—who fall in love with Forest Park. Then there are those—myself included—who fall in love in Forest Park.
My wife and I met in 2002 in the Saint Louis Art Museum, where we worked a floor apart in one of the city’s most historic buildings. By the next summer, we had set up our first date, this official outing following many less official, incrementally crucial conversations in the museum hallways, at the 10 a.m. staff coffee breaks in the downstairs café, on the after-work walk toward the rectangular gravel lot where we all parked. Over the next few years, two of our most important conversations—turning points, really—took place in the Park, one on Cricket Field (where we realized, among other things, that we shared the dream of a house full of books) and the other as we picnicked on a patch of grass, in the shade, just east of the Grand Basin.
A few years later still—after a move north to Madison, Wisc., then a return to St. Louis—Forest Park served as a kind of new-life launching point. Our families and friends came together for a rehearsal dinner at the park’s golf-course clubhouse, Tamara and I married in The Jewel Box, and the two of us said many postnuptial “cheeses” atop the Grand Basin, as our young nieces and nephews—who’d hitched a ride in our limo—munched its comped candies nearby.
While the details of this story are unique to us, similar stories of course abound in the community. Thousands of St. Louisans have their own memories of life taking shape within the borders of the park. And that’s in part because this resource is so vast and so varied, offering—as our cover story “Our Park” (p. 64) illustrates—ancient history and modern culture, packed festivals and quiet walks, competitive sport and supine relaxation, summer boat rides and winter sledding. Part celebration, part chronicle, part users’ guide, this feature is meant to be an ideal read as you kick off May in St. Louis. Preferably atop a blanket. And most certainly in the Park.
Postscript: While you’re reading away your afternoon, I encourage you to sink into Jeannette Cooperman’s in-depth feature “The Fall” (p. 94), about the Jeff Smith saga. This 8,000-word piece is a terrific representation of one of our goals here on staff: As a monthly with a long lead time, SLM may not be first on a story, but we try to be the best.