Lafayette Park

St. Louis, MO

Submitted by: Julie White

Established in 1836, this was the first park west of the Mississippi River.

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Why It Works

The Park sits at the center of the community and is a total of 30 acres. A prized Victorian park planned by MG Kern, the park once drew up to 40,000 people on the weekends. Today, the park serves the immediate neighborhood but also the downtown working community and surrounding neighborhoods. Concerts in the park every other weekend throughout the summer draw crowds from all over the Metropolitan area.

In addition, the Park is home to a lovely second empire keepers cottage, and is defined by its original, historic wrought iron fence that surrounds it's edge. Within the park is the original lake, a statue of George Washington by Houdon and bronze statue of Senator Benton by Harriet Hosmer. With a diverse and mature tree stock and rolling typography, Lafayette Park is a serene strolling park and a gem in the St. Louis Park system.

What Makes Lafayette Park a Great Place?

Lafayette Park is centrally located in the Lafayette Square neighborhood. Like many historic parks, the houses and neighborhood surround the park and treat the park as a central focal point. Although a gated and basically square park, entry is easily gained at all the corners and at the middle of each side. Park users circulate both on the perimeter of the park and throughout, using winding paths that connect all the major features. The park is readily accessible by multiple forms of transportation. The sidewalks and paths are a variety of materials and are in relatively good shape and follow, for the most part, the historic path system laid out by Kern. Vehicular access is not allowed.

Lafayette Park makes a stunning first impression. With its stately fence and Park House and impressive statues, not to mention the attractive plant beds lovingly cared for my local residents, the park is popular with tourists and regional visitors alike. It is also very clean as well as safe. Our community maintains a strong relationship with the Parks and Police departments and security has rarely been an issue in the last 5 - 10 years.

The park sees daily activity - from walkers and joggers to picnickers and fisherman alike. The Betsy Cook Pavilion is home to the summer concert series, our Boat House next to the lake is frequently used for small parties and meetings as is the Park House. But primarily the park is used by people wanting a peaceful stroll or place to relax and enjoy a picnic, or to bring their kids to play. In the years I have lived here, I find the users are tremendously diverse. From family groups to individuals walking their dogs - the range in age is anywhere from toddlers to seniors of many ethnicities.

I meet my friends and family here. People enjoy the park in groups frequently - either in picnics, local church activities, group gardening, or enjoying concerts or house and garden tours. Users tend to be friendly, make eye contact and say hello. Lafayette Park is located among many diverse urban neighborhoods; as such, users tend to be from a variety of cultural and economically diverse backgrounds, which I feel is very reflective of St. Louis. Do residents show off this place to visitors? Without a doubt!

History & Background

Lafayette Park was established by Mayor Darby in 1836. The first park west of the Mississippi, it is the center of the Lafayette Square Historic District, a once fashionable area that fell into disrepair and neglect until urban pioneers began to restore the neighborhood's architectural treasures.

Contact Info:

Julie Padberg-White: 314-664-6755

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