The park is located between Eads Avenue, California, St. Vincent and where Ohio Avenue would be if the street grid were not dismantled to accommodate the strangely out of place suburban complexes of Eads Square, Lafayette Habilitation Center and the former National/Schnucks/Foodland/Sav-A-Lot property which is undergoing a re-facing as I write this post. Read all about that here.
The park is in the Gate District Neighborhood. I realize the folks that inhabited the Gate District in years from 1960-1990 almost completely destroyed the original housing stock. Slum lords and terrible tenants/residents did the bare minimum and even worse to let this part of the city rot. This part of the city was a mess. The recent renewal attempts had mixed results. Vatterott built many new homes which brought in decent people and OWNERS instead of subsidized renters and crappy landlords. There is a sense of stability as a result of this. However, there are scars that mark this part of town. The areas surrounding Eads park are a good example of this lack of urban planning; and the desire to make modern suburban design available in the city.
As you approach Eads Park you could drive or walk right past it. There is no signage and there are fences with a single opening that appear to keep you out.
Here's the only sign that mark's this as public space, otherwise you may not even know:
The weird suburban cul de sacs are numerous in this part of the neighborhood. They simply just look out of place in any respectable city.
The park has a small entrance off St. Vincent and anther one at Eads and California.
The park is really just a space that was not developed after Ohio Avenue was closed and the Kroger/National/Schnucks/Foodland/Sav-A-Lot building was built in 1984. Eads Avenue was closed too to accommodate the large surface parking lot.
Another neighbor of the park is the Lafayette Habilitation Center, a non-profit that houses mentally disabled. A good cause I'm sure, but the building is a suburban styled contribution from the mid-1980's.
Lafayette Habilitation Center values and serves disabled individuals. Services are provided based on need. Our home has the capacity to serve thirty three residents. The majority of our family (residents) have made Lafayette home since it opened in 1985. Our residential home is located in the Lafayette Square area. It is a family atmosphere and we currently have openings for placement.These types of non-profits are important and I respect the work they do if they operate a respectable place. However, if non-profit (non-tax payers) set up shop in the city, they should be beholden to restore a historic building or otherwise existing structure. This kind of thing just detracts from St. Louis:
photo from http://www.lafayettehabilitation.org/Default.aspx
To add to the 1980s-2000 mistakes of the area surrounding Eads Square Park, there is a SLPS building directly adjacent called Hodgen School. The current Hodgen was built in 2000 and is a ho hum building typical of modern suburbs and construction materials. Notice there is no name of the architect inscribed in the cornerstone (because they spit out another chunk of lazy cheap crap):
This all you'll be able to witness from the beautiful old Hodgen school built in 1884...forget history and hard things, we need cheap easy new shit like they have in the suburbs:
People who care fought this demo, but the power brokers considered it a no brainer:
Once the building is down, it will be replaced with a parking lot and play area for the new Hodgen school across Henrietta Street. District officials say the new elementary school needs the space. Preservationists argue that nearby vacant lots could serve the same purpose. (source)Per VanishingSTL SLPS blew $1.6M to demo the building:
St. Louis Public Schools will lose around $1.6 million dollars by demolishing the old Hodgen School! Landmarks Association has obtained information showing that the combined environmental abatement and demolition will cost $774,297.Fail. Anyhow, here's the 1884 classic we lost for a field (which there are scads of in this part of town):
The cul-de-sacs formed this weird space that appears to be completely underutilized.
There are no trash cans or water fountains. There are 2 shaded areas that were once streets (Eads and Ohio) that are quite abandoned. The former streets are part of the park.
empty planters to dissuade driving on the former Eads Avenue
The park is mainly just a mowed field.
The Gate District is a strange late 20th Century experiment, Eads Square Park is another example of the spaces that feel un-St. Louis and completely out of context in a big city.
I hope I don't upset my friends in the Gate, I just simply have to be honest and purvey my gut feelings on this part of St. Louis. If we continue to try to make St. Louis something it is not, we will get places that won't contribute to our long history or legacy. It'll get stripped away little by little until you won't even recognize it. My intent is not to be mean spirited or demeaning, rather to call a spade a spade and give an even sided story and view from someone who truly loves this city and wants nothing better than the best for every neighborhood.
Here's to the Gate District demanding better parks space and infill and new projects in the future. Its ours to own!