Photo Flood 26: Tower Grove Park

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photograph by Jeni Kulka

Donated to the city in 1868, Tower Grove Park is one of St. Louis’ best-loved green spaces. Second in size only to Forest Park, TGP provides recreation for some of the city’s most active neighborhoods. Originally designed after Victorian examples in England, the park is laid out on an east/west axis, and features iconic structures and landscaping.

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photograph by Dan Henrichs Photography, St. Louis


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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Logan Williams

As of this writing, Photo Flood Saint Louis has visited all of the four largest city parks, Forest Park, Tower Grove Park, Carondelet Park and Fairground Park. Without a doubt, each green space is punctuated with an individual character that is informed by its location and the neighborhoods that surround it. While both Fairground Park and Carondelet Park have garnered something of a reputation for crime, only Fairground Park appears “inhospitable” (complete with shuttered public restrooms, police barricades/checkpoints, and crumbling playgrounds). This is illustrative of a variety of underlying problems, some not far removed from the “Delmar Divide”, an implied racial division of north St. Louis from south St. Louis. Of course, this is really unfortunate for many reasons, including that all of the city’s major public parks are breathtaking when up-kept, and are designed as an important means for recreation to the people who live nearby.

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photograph by Kristie Ferreira

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photograph by Janet Henrichs

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photograph by Dan Henrichs Photography, St. Louis

For those that live near Tower Grove Park, in Tower Grove East, Shaw, Tower Grove South, and Southwest Garden, the park performs its function well, as it welcomes more than one million visitors every year to its shady confines. The park undoubtedly owes much of this success to its founder, Henry Shaw. By 1868, Shaw had amassed a considerable fortune thanks to the boom-town growth of St. Louis throughout the Victorian Age. However, instead of hoarding his wealth, Mr. Shaw invested it into a large area of land carved out of the former common pasture. Here, he founded the Missouri Botanical Garden (for his botany interests), and built his private estate. With the remaining property, he set aside a section for residential development, and donated the rest (almost 280 acres) to the people of the city of St. Louis in the form of Tower Grove Park. The philanthropist did not disavow himself from the Park, once he had promised it, however. Instead, he set upon transforming the land into a vision of idyl fit for a master of business and horticulture, and he took the walking parks of England as inspiration.

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photograph by Mandi Gray

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photograph by Dan Henrichs Photography, St. Louis

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photograph by Michelle Williams

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photograph by Jason Gray

The numerous features that confer tranquility and uniqueness to Tower Grove Park include the Piper Palm House (the oldest greenhouse west of the Mississippi), statues of Christopher Columbus, William Shakespeare and busts of Beethoven, Mozart and Wagner (among others), a collection of vibrant pavilions, the repurposed “ruins” of the Lindell Hotel and the Old Courthouse, elegant pedestrian and carriage entrances to the park, and a lush diversity of plant and animal life (more than 300 varieties of trees and over 200 types of animals). The park is host to many athletic activities including several popular kickball leagues, the Henry Shaw Memorial Tennis Courts, many soccer fields, and many more (we even observed an amateur, mixed-martial arts group practicing on our visit). Throughout the year, Tower Grove Park welcomes a calendar of big events including the St. Louis Pagan Picnic and the International Institute’s Festival of Nations, as well as smaller repeating events like the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market and Sauce Magazine’s Food Truck Fridays.

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photograph by Susan Price

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photograph by Michelle Williams

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photograph by Jason Gray

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photograph by Amanda Miller

No matter what your attraction to the park is, Tower Grove Park is a relaxing way to enjoy friends or just spend some quality alone time. Henry Shaw’s idea of pedestrian friendliness benefits a casual stroll in any season, and its east/west layout provides the park with brilliant light at sunrise and sunset. The Friends of Tower Grove Park do an excellent job of caring for this National Historic Landmark. If you have not visited in a while, perhaps it is time to go again into this wonderful gift to the city by St. Louis’ greatest natural benefactor.

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photograph by Ann Aurbach

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photograph by Michelle Williams

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photograph by Mandi Gray

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photograph by Jason Gray

Map:
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Our endpoint for Photo Flood 26 was The King and I on South Grand. If you have never been, this iconic restaurant serves some of the best Thai food in the midwest.

2 Comments
  1. […] In my research, I came across an amazing blog post with many lovely pictures of Tower Groves Park. Be sure to check it out right here! […]

  2. […] Grand Avenue is one of the most effective in the city; the street connects Carondelet Park, Tower Grove Park and Fairground Park, but more importantly, it served as a link between the north side of the city […]

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