Thursday, October 31, 2013

Gravois Park (The Park)

Gravois Park is 1 of St. Louis' 108 parks making up 8.2 of the total 2,956 acres of park space in St. Louis.

Per the city website:
One of the original Commons grants of 1812, it is presently bounded by Louisiana and Compton Avenues and on its north and south sides by Potomac and Miami Streets. However, in its early days, this was a rather isolated location and the Park was little frequented by the public. (source)
The park is the only one in the Gravois Park neighborhood, which lies just south of the Cherokee Street district.  

The park was dedicated in the memory of Louis "Uncle Louie" Buckowitz in 1995:

Who was "Uncle Louie"?:
Louis W. Buckowitz, a former alderman and longtime Democratic leader in south St. Louis, died Tuesday (Sept. 7, 1999) at Alexian Brothers Lansdowne Village in St. Louis. He was 92 and had been in ill health for six years.  Mr. Buckowitz was active in city Democratic politics for more than 60 years and served as the 10th Ward alderman from 1977-87.Known as "Uncle Louie," he was proud of the Easter egg hunts and Christmas parties he sponsored for poor children, his influence in persuading ward voters to back favored candidates, and his vigor in helping constituents get jobs or necessary city services. (source)
That's Uncle Louie behind Mayor Cervantes (with glasses)

Apparently this Easter egg hunt was a big deal for nearly 50 years.  

On my visit today, the park was spic and span clean thanks to some groups of St. Louis University students working in the area to pick up trash.

The park is a rectangle with entry ways on each of the 4 corners, all leading toward the centerpiece of the park, this beautiful pavilion:

Looking at the park from the view above, I'd love to see some prairie restoration take place in parts of the park.  Walking paths could be mowed within the prairie grasses to allow people to get in touch with nature.

There is also small playground which has seen better days:

The single water fountain in the park has been vandalized and is inoperable:

There is a former basketball court that has since had the goals removed:

The homes that line this park range from great condition to burned out and boarded up.  

This part of South St. Louis is a pivot point for the future of the south side.  The place is brimming with potential as the architecture is stunning and quite diverse.  It is a working man's neighborhood, so there are less mansions and large homes.  But, man is this place awesome.  

Sadly, a lot of the locals in recent years have chosen to tear the area down as opposed to working hard to make it better.  The signs of decay, neglect and negativity are everywhere.

But there is hope in that the arts/Latino district of Cherokee Street has seen much positivity develop in the last 5-10 years.  This street could serve as an anchor for the area immediately to the south.

Hopefully this part of St. Louis can continue to rise and the park will continue to serve as a peaceful place for 200 more years.  Here's to the good guys turning the tides.  If you read the writing on the wall, apparently there is a class war being waged here.  

I'll be in the corner of the those who quit spray painting on the brick buildings and destroying their surroundings, regardless of class.  Viva Gravois Park.

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