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Photography by Edward Crim
It’s the nation’s fifth most visited urban park. Each year, it welcomes 12 million–plus visitors—more than Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon combined. Its origins date back to 1876, when a visit was a 40-minute carriage ride from downtown and a budding local author published The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. In 1904, the park captured the world’s imagination, and 23 years later, it hosted Charles Lindbergh when he did the same. But by mid-century, it had gone from beautiful to bleak.
Now it’s back.
At around 1,300 acres, Forest Park is larger than New York’s Central Park. It is a nexus of fine art, history, and science. Countless St. Louisans have proposed at the Grand Basin, said “I do” in the Jewel Box, danced at the World’s Fair Pavilion, and sledded with their kids on Art Hill—as they did when they were children. The park welcomes women in flowing dresses to the Art Museum, families lugging diaper bags to the Zoo, and fishermen in tattered jackets to Jefferson Lake. It’s where businessmen tee off at sunrise and couples pedal boats at sunset.
And just when you think you’ve done it all, you discover something new about Forest Park.
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By Jeannette Cooperman, Kendra Henry, Christy Marshall, Jarrett Medlin, Jordan Oakes, Stefene Russell, and Stephen Schenkenberg