Best Restoration St. Louis 2004 - Forest Park
Do you find yourself veering off Lindell, or even Highway 40, for a leisurely drive through Forest Park? Do you look for any excuse to pass by the new fountains in the Grand Basin? Have you eaten at the Boathouse, whose outdoor tables offer the most pastoral view within the city limits? Rented one of the boats? When Forest Park Forever was created in 1986, its lofty goal of restoring the deteriorating 1,400-acre park to its former glory sounded like something out of Pollyanna. Eighteen years and $90 million later, the unimaginable has become sylvan reality. Oh sure, there were occasional snags along the way. When drawings of the proposed Lawrence Halprin-designed entrance gates were revealed, the public outcry was a stirring reminder that ultimately the park does belong to the people. And not even the people have been able to undo that new view-obstructing wall across from the art museum. But putting aside the group's presumptuousness -- and the high salaries its members pay themselves -- the restoration has proved to be a green-grass miracle. Every single person who cycles, jogs, picnics, golfs, skates, sleds, boats, dines, balloons or simply takes a long deep breath in Forest Park feels a renewed pride in the entire city, and that's hard to impugn.