There are two segments of the St. Vincent Greenway. The northern portion runs 3.5 miles along the rolling hills of the UMSL campus through the lush and shady landscape of St. Vincent County Park.
Both segments offer a wide range of scenery—from historic neighborhoods, to parks, to an active university campus. Here are some historical tidbits and points of interest to think about as you explore and enjoy this greenway:
University of Missouri- St. Louis Campus
Did you know a portion of the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus was the Bellerive Country Club golf course? As you walk or ride over the rolling hills on the greenway that crosses the campus, you can easily imagine how it was once home to PGA tournaments and national amateur golf championships. Since 1960, the University has grown from a single building on the former country club to more than 50 buildings on 300 acres.
Natural Bridge Road
The northern section of the St. Vincent Greenway crosses Natural Bridge Road south of the UMSL Campus. Did you know that this roadway was once a route that wagon trains took west to the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails?
The St. Vincent Greenway passes through Ruth C. Porter Mall Park between Delmar and Etzel. The park is named for Ruth C. Porter a tireless activist dedicated to eradicating inequality and discrimination in St. Louis.
A large portion of her work was focused on education. She introduced innovative leadership, tutoring programs and a new kindergarten at the Kinloch YMCA. Porter also co-founded the Kinder Cottage–a preschool whose concepts of early education pre-dated Head Start. She also established Community Resources an organization that worked to integrate the city’s schools–a goal she felt went unrealized nearly a decade after the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.
As a founding member of the Greater St. Louis Committee for Freedom of Residence, Porter became its first executive director, championing the fight for open housing in a city where redlining and restrictive covenants kept many African American families segregated.
At great personal sacrifice, she dedicated her life to improving the world in which she lived and building bridges between people of every race and class. She left an indelible mark on St. Louis and her home, the West End neighborhood.
St. Vincent Hospital
St. Vincent County park is named for the former St. Vincent’s Hospital first opened on the site in August 1895. Built for the then-enormous cost of $500,000, it was the finest institutional building of its time. The interior included custom woodwork and stained glass windows and the 140 acres of surrounding landscape provided patients with therapy and recreation opportunities. Food for the patients was even grown on the hospital’s property. In 1977 the land surrounding the hospital was turned into a county park, and in 1980 St. Vincent County Park was opened to the public.
While it has since been converted to apartments, the castle-like building’s dramatic turrets, towers, and spires remain. When it first opened, the building was located between the Huntley and Eden Stations on the Wabash Railroad (now the MetroLink line). A railroad stop just for the hospital was added at the foot of a long series of steps that led up the hill to the main entrance. As you travel along the greenway, you can still see these steps once used by hospital staff, visitors, and the Daughters of Charity.
Hodiamont Street Car
The St. Vincent Greenway crosses over what was once the site of the West End Narrow Gauge Railroad–a passenger steam locomotive launched in 1875. This railroad enabled the exodus of affluent families from downtown to St. Louis to what was once considered the suburbs. The tracks eventually became the Hodiamont street car line. You can see where it once ran as you cross the site of the former tracks in the Hodiamont alley between Vernon and Cabanne Avenues.
When the St. Vincent Greenway is complete; it will extend 7 miles from NorthPark and the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus all the way to Forest Park.
The route to connect both sections of the greenway was identified after an extensive citizen engagement effort in 2014. Great Rivers Greenway staff and the design team are continuing to work together on design, funding strategies and phasing. Click here for the master plan for this greenway!