We have teamed up with the St. Louis Public Library on a new Storybook Walk at Ruth Porter Mall Park on the St. Vincent Greenway. The goal is to provide a fun outdoor learning activity, while promoting physical activity on the greenway. The first book is Cannon’s Crash Course, a story about a boy who is eager to ride a bike, but does not know how. Take in this great children’s story written by Mon Trice and beautifully illustrated by Cbabi Bayoc as you enjoy a socially distanced walk. (Fun Fact: Both the author and illustrator live in St. Louis!)
Each month will feature a new story:
April/May:Cannon’s Crash Course by Mon Trice and illustrated by Cbabi Bayoc
June:Hair Love by Matthew Cherry
July:Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
August:When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Deenihan
September:I Got the School Spirit by Connie Schofield-Morrison
October:Scaredy Kate by Jacob Grant
November:Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood
December:Snow Globe Wishes by Erin Dealey
The books will be displayed page-by-page on progressive free-standing posts along the greenway. The posts were designed and built by Perennial, a local nonprofit, using 342 pounds of reclaimed material. Ruth Porter Mall Park is located near the intersection of Delmar and Debaliviere on the St. Vincent Greenway. Plan your visit here.
A new structure is under construction on the north side of Kiener Plaza, completing the park’s renovation as part of the CityArchRiver transformation. The project is a joint effort of Great Rivers Greenway, City of St. Louis and Gateway Arch Park Foundation. It will serve as a visitor services and maintenance building and include retail space for St. Louis-themed gifts, a workspace for on-site security, and a storage and support space for events and maintenance.
Construction on the site began on April 26th and is estimated to be completed in the Fall of 2021.
Downtown commuters can expect periodic closures of five parking spaces and part of the bike lane on Chestnut St. between 6th and 7th streets.
The visitor services and maintenance building will be an upgrade from the current security station in place on Kiener Plaza and will provide a workstation for security guards to be present and visible.
The building will also store items such as the café tables and chairs that Kiener Plaza visitors use to relax and enjoy the space, tools to take care of the plants and infrastructure in the park, and equipment for programs and events that activate the plaza, such as the Gateway Arch Park Foundation Sunrise Yoga series.
Kiener Plaza’s central location in Downtown St. Louis makes it an ideal spot for the new hospitality station for residents and visitors alike to get directions, make a plan for their day and pick up a gift. This service will be a partnership with Explore St. Louis and Jefferson National Parks Association, who already provide visitor services and retail services, respectively.
There are several greenway projects moving forward across the region. Here is the latest update:
St. Vincent Greenway
We are working with many partners to close the gap on the northern and southern sections of the St. Vincent Greenway. We’ll complete the connection in three phases. Phase 1 is underway and phase 2 will break ground in early summer!
St. Vincent County Park to Rock Road Transit Center (Phase 1): Construction on this .83 mile section of greenway is underway! It will run parallel to St. Charles Rock Road with a direct connection to the Rock Road Transit Center and St. Vincent County Park. It is being built as part of Missouri Department of Transportation’s improvements to St. Charles Rock Road in partnership with St. Louis County Parks and Bi-State Metro. Watch a “tour” of the project below!
Trojan Park to former Eskridge High School Site (Phase 2): This will extend the greenway an additional .53 miles from its current endpoint at Trojan Park on Etzel Avenue to the site of the former Eskridge High school in Wellston. Plans are complete and we’ll break ground on the .53 mile expansion from Trojan Park in early summer 2021 once final permits are completed.
Eskridge High School Site to St. Charles Rock Road through Pagedale (Phase 3): Thanks to the input and feedback from the Pagedale community, in early 2020 we identified the route for the greenway from the former Eskridge High School to St. Charles Rock Road. We are working through the design phase to develop technical construction documents to prepare the project for future construction in 2022 We applied for federal funding (Surface Transportation Program) for this project to leverage sales tax investment in this new greenway. If awarded, it would impact the proposed timeline of the project. Stay tuned for updates!
Mississippi Greenway: Kiener Plaza Visitor Services & Maintenance Building
Work on the new Visitor Services & Maintenance Building on Kiener Plaza is ready to begin. The building will include a workspace for on-site security and provide storage and support space for events and maintenance. We are also partnering with Explore St. Louis and the Jefferson National Parks Association to provide visitor information as well as some St. Louis gifts and goodies for purchase. Work on the new building is expected to be complete by fall 2021.
Centennial Greenway: Christy Drive to Hackmann Drive (St. Charles County)
This project will extend the Centennial Greenway: Katy Trail to Heritage Museum in St. Charles County to Schaefer Park. It will also set the stage for future greenway connections that will make it possible to walk or ride a bike on dedicated walking and biking paths all the way from the St. Peters Rec-Plex to the Katy Trail. In 2019, community members weighed in on proposed routes and amenities for the greenway. We will also be adding wayfinding signs along the planned Centennial Greenway project that is being constructed by the City of St. Peters which extends from Hackmann Road to Spencer Creek Trail adjacent to Harvester Church of the Nazarene. Design is in progress and expected to be bid for construction in 2021-2022.
Mississippi Greenway: Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
Since 2019, we have been working with partners, neighbors and community members to plan and design a new vision for the area surrounding the Missouri entrance to the historic Old Chain of Rocks Route 66 Bridge. The design team considered this community feedback to develop the just-completed intermediate plans, specifications and cost estimates. Plans for the 16-acre site include new security features, parking, picnic and gathering areas and landscape improvements. Fundraising is ongoing and we will launch construction when funding is complete. In the meantime, we are investigating actions we can take now to get a head start on the restoration of the site’s meadow. We have also applied for federal funding through the Land & Water Conservation Fund—no word on that just yet. Stay tuned for more updates.
Deer Creek Greenway: Deer Creek Connector
We are working with the City of Brentwood to plan, design and construct a connection between the Deer Creek Greenway at Marshall Road and Brentwood’s Norm West Park and Rogers Parkway. This project is a part of the city’s $80 million Brentwood Bound storm water mitigation plan for the Deer Creek flood plain and will incorporate numerous water quality, stream bank, restoration and open space features, as well as an underpass below Manchester Road for a seamless connection for people walking and biking. Construction of the stormwater mitigation project is well underway, including earthwork necessary to build Norm West Park improvements and the Deer Creek Greenway extension. Greenway construction is expected to begin summer 2021, with completion in 2022.
Dardenne Greenway: Cottleville
Construction on a .3 mile extension of Dardenne Greenway, from the intersection of Weiss Road and former Route N to the Warren Cottle Trail in Cottleville began in late 2020. Demolition, earthwork and utility relocation is currently in progress and the project is expected to be complete later this year, providing additional connections via the Warren Cottle Trail to Vantage Lake, Legacy Park and the 1.1 mile greenway along Route N west of Weiss Road.
Through March 24, 2021, you have the chance to submit your comments about projects seeking federal funding through East-West Gateway’s Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, including two greenway extensions!
If you want to enjoy spring’s loveliest—and most fleeting—display of colorful wildflowers, it’s time to plan a trip to a greenway near you! April and May are peak showtime for a variety of colorful perennials emerging from their winter slumber.
Thanks to the longer days and warming temperatures, little splashes of color will soon appear on the forest floor and along the banks of creeks and streams. Known as “spring ephemerals,” these wildflowers bloom early, linger briefly, and disappear before the trees are leafed out. This dazzling show of spring color is only a limited engagement, so take time to see the flowers before they are gone. No ticket is required to visit a greenway, and you’re guaranteed a front row seat whether you are on foot or bike!
Here are a few of the native wildflowers you can see along the greenways this spring:
The flowers of blue-eyed Mary are 2-lipped: the upper lip is 2-lobed and white; the lower lip is 3-lobed and sky blue (rarely purple or white). This is one of the few Missouri wildflowers that is truly “blue.”
The flower of wake robin, or trillium, has 3 petals and 3 sepals, and 3 leaves that subtend the solitary flower. The petal color varies in this common woodland spring wildflower, but it is most commonly brownish or maroon.
As pretty as this wildflower is, the common name “Jacob’s Ladder” comes from its leaves, which made people think of the story from Genesis in which Jacob dreams of a ladder reaching up to heaven.
Best Greenways for Viewing Wildflowers
Some of the greenways provide better habitat than others for spring ephemerals and wildflowers. Those that meander through forests, across bottom land, or other conservation areas are your best bet for a colorful show. Take your pick of the following (or plan to visit them all this spring!):
Deer Creek Greenway: Deer Creek Park Where to look: We have been working with a variety of partners to clear out invasive honeysuckle along Deer Creek. Look for wildflowers along the banks and edge of Deer Creek. You can also see some Missouri native plants in Lorraine Davis Park.
Other places to enjoy native plants and wildflowers early this summer:
Trojan Park on the St. Vincent Greenway in Wellston has a beautiful garden filled with native plants!
River des Peres Greenway: Raingarden between Route 66 and Lansdowne
Busch Greenway near roundabout connection to Hamburg Trail.
Please Don’t Pick the Wildflowers!
Because these flowers are so beautiful, it can be tempting to want to pick them or dig them up for transplanting. Not only is this unsightly, it also removes an important food source for pollinators and other animals. Because the plant’s life cycle is so short, animals that might eat the foliage have only a brief opportunity to consume them. Enjoy the flowers, snap a picture, and leave them where they are! If you would like to add beautiful native flowers to your garden, you can find ethical plant nurseries and other resources here.
Wildflower photos and plant information are all courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation. To learn more about what plants and animals to look for during every season, visit their website here.
As a major city in a slave state just across the Mississippi River from the free state of Illinois, St. Louis was a pivotal point in the Underground Railroad.
On the night of May 21, 1855, in the area that is now part of the Mississippi Greenway: Riverfront Trail north of the Merchant’s Bridge, Mary Meachum attempted to help a small group of enslaved people cross the Mississippi River to Illinois where slavery was outlawed. However, enslavers and law enforcement officials caught at least five of the enslaved people and arrested Mary for her participation in the plot. She was charged in criminal court for helping the “fugitives” escape. In 2001, the National Park Service recognized the site as part of the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
The St. Vincent Greenway passes through Ruth C. Porter Mall Park between Delmar and Etzel in the West End Neighborhood of St. Louis. The park is named for Ruth C. Porter, a tireless activist dedicated to eradicating inequality and discrimination in St. Louis.