Public Recreation Facilities

Many New Neighborhood Parks, Playgrounds and Playfields Needed

St. Louis' outstanding system of large parks - Carondelet, Forest, and O'Fallon - was the result of a far-sighted plan conceived when the city's area was so greatly expanded in 1876. Large parks are very useful but they supply only one part of the city's recreation requirements. There is a surprising deficiency in neighborhood parks, playfields, and playgrounds. It is always difficult to provide ample park and recreation areas after development has taken place but that is not justification for neglect of an extremely important public facility. If stability and improved environment in the various residential areas of St. Louis is to be assured, it is imperative that adequate local recreational areas be acquired.

Each of the 82 residential neighborhoods in the city should have a neighborhood park, and playground. Each should have a large playfield in reasonably close proximity. These requirements are in addition to such overall facilities as large parks and parkways.

Modern neighborhood design principals and standards may be described briefly as follows: there would be a neighborhood park of approximately twenty acres near the center of each residential neighborhood. The elementary school serving the neighborhood would adjoin or be in the park. A playground having not less than two acres of free play space should adjoin the school. The school would be the neighborhood community center. Major streets at the outer borders of the neighborhood would keep all but local traffic from entering the area thus promoting the public safety, peace and quiet of all who would live therein and enhancing the use and enjoyment of the park, school and community center.

These principles have been the guide in preparation of the recreation plan. They should be followed in providing new parks and schools in newly developing neighborhoods, in each neighborhood rehabilitation project in blighted areas or in each reconstruction of an obsolete area.

The accompanying Recreation Plan, Plate Number 21, shows the various neighborhoods of the city with recommended areas for these various types of facilities. Because of high land costs or unavailability of land in some locations, the requisite areas are not possible in every instance.

St. Louis has a very low standard of public recreation area despite the great acreage in large parks. St. Louis has but one acre of park for each 263 persons (1940), as compared with one acre of park for each 90 persons in Cincinnati, 92 persons in Minneapolis, and 109 persons in Kansas City. The park acreage of St. Louis should be more than doubled within the next 25 years.

St. Louis public schools are of notable high standard design and construction. Unfortunately, many of these schools were located in advance of modern city planning space standards. In recent years the Board of Education has consistently acquired ample sites for each of its new schools. There is need for a large expansion and reconstruction school program. When authorized, there will be an unusual opportunity for larger sites and improved locations in numerous neighborhoods.

One additional large park is proposed to serve the large northeastern section of the city. This park would be created as part of the oft suggested straightening of the Mississippi River between the Chain of Rocks and the Merchants Bridge.

The accompanying Table Number X shows the number and acreage of existing and proposed recreational facilities. The plan would provide a system of 6 large parks, 57 neighborhood parks, 152 playgrounds, 34 playfields, and a system of community centers, particularly by the use of public school buildings.

Plate Number 22 shows a typical design for a neighborhood park. Plate Number 23 shows a plan for the recently acquired Goodfellow-St. Louis Avenue playfield.

Table Number X
Summary Of Recreation Plan
Type of Facilities a) Existing Proposed Total
Number Acres Number Acres Number Acres
Large Parks 5 2135 1 b 3200 b 6 5335
Neighborhood Parks 28 814 29 362 57 1176
Playgrounds 111 208 41 85 152 293
Playfields 19 180 c 15 357 c 34 537 c
City Community Centers 8 - 2 - 10 -
Private Community Centers 24 - - - 24 -
Public Schools Used as Community Centers - - 63 - 63 -
Total 195 3217 151 3964 346 7181

a) A complete listing of these facilities for each neighborhood and Industrial district is provided in the City Plan Commission's Plan for Public Recreational Areas, pp. 27-30 (1944). "Large parks" were shown under the "neighborhood parks" category in that listing, since they serve as neighborhood parks for adjoining residential areas.
b) Mosenthien and Cabaret Island project. Acreage includes water area of lagoon.
c) 120 acres of "existing playfields" and 40 acres of "proposed playfields" are also "large park" acreage and are not added into totals at the foot of the columns.
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