Best Of 2013

If we wanted to go to Manhattan, we would go to Manhattan. But if we want to spend 30 minutes feeling like we've just escaped to one of the tiny parks that dot Manhattan, we go to the best pocket park this city has to offer: Strauss Park. Situated across from the Fox Theatre in Grand Center, this well-shaded triangle has a bevy of benches and café tables, a small stage, some curious artwork and a public Bible maintained by the neighboring Third Baptist Church. St. Louis may not be known for its hustle and bustle, but for those yearning for a brief respite in the burgeoning artistic spaces of midtown, Strauss Park will most certainly abide.

Most major cities have art museums, zoos and various public attractions, but we have something unique: the Chain of Rocks Bridge. Located just south of the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, our special geography makes this site possible. The Chain of Rocks connects the Riverview area of north St. Louis County with Chouteau Island in Madison, Illinois. Though it was once a humming part of old Route 66, the Chain of Rocks Bridge has long been closed to vehicles and now serves as a serene pedestrian path that links us to our neighboring state across that mighty river. There are quite a few nature-related events hosted there throughout the year — such as the beloved eagle-watching gathering, Eagle Days — but you don't need an event to enjoy this site. The quiet bridge offers the chance to find peace every morning with the wind in your hair, a beautiful view of downtown St. Louis to the south and the always impressive Big Muddy gurgling below.

He's the fastest, smartest tweeter in town, offering witty banter on local media matters in one tweet and a sharp defense of the people he represents — most notably, Mayor Francis Slay — in another. Richard Callow, a.k.a. @publiceyestl, responds to your tweets practically before you've even sent them, often with biting, clever 140-character remarks. Sometimes he'll say nice things about your work, and other times he'll snark you into shame. Callow has even achieved the ultimate in Twitter flattery: a fake account from a hater.

Since its inception last September, the Mayor's Animal Cruelty Task Force has worked to bring legal consequences for animal-abuse and neglect cases. Aligning closely with Stray Rescue of St. Louis, the task force has investigated more than 100 cases, made 25 arrests and given more than 300 animal-control citations. Perhaps most famously, the task force in July brought justice to Brownie, a dog who died of injuries sustained after being doused in gasoline and set ablaze in the streets of north St. Louis. The woman allegedly responsible, who later bragged about the crime on her Facebook page, was charged with two felonies.