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Forest Park Forever Receives $5 Million Donation from Emerson
ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com), February 26, 2014 - Forest Park Forever said it has received a gift of $5 million from Emerson for Forest Park Forever's endowment and capital improvement projects, marking the largest gift Forest Park Forever has received from a publicly traded company.

St. Louis-based Emerson is a global leader in bringing technology and engineering. The donation continues Emerson's long history of support for Forest Park Forever's efforts to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America's great urban public parks.

This substantial gift comes at an exciting time for Forest Park Forever, the private nonprofit that works in partnership with the City of St. Louis to restore and care for the Park. Having established a strong new cooperative agreement with the City in April 2013, the organization is moving forward with a wave of deliberate, strategic improvement projects to fulfill the vision of the Park's Master Plan.

Emerson's generous gift will make possible not just progress toward the completion of long-needed capital projects, but it also greatly strengthens Forest Park Forever's endowment, so critical to ensuring that the Park will remain beautiful and accessible throughout the coming centuries.

"We are thrilled and grateful to receive this remarkable gift from Emerson," said Lesley S. Hoffarth, Forest Park Forever President and Executive Director. "Emerson has shown great leadership and generosity in supporting one of St. Louis' most beloved civic treasures. Through its support of Forest Park's improvement projects and endowment, the legacy of Emerson's gift will last for generations."

"St. Louis is home to Emerson's corporate headquarters and hundreds of employees, so we have a responsibility to this community to help enrich our cultural institutions like Forest Park," said Patrick J. Sly, Emerson Executive Vice President. "Emerson is proud to support Forest Park Forever, and we look forward to enjoying the many Park enhancements to come."

Emerson's contribution builds on the company's longstanding partnership with Forest Park Forever. In 2003, Emerson participated in Forest Park Forever's "Restoring the Glory" campaign and donated a $3 million lead gift for the restoration of the iconic and much-beloved Emerson Grand Basin. One of the most photographed landmarks in St. Louis, the Emerson Grand Basin has become a marker of Forest Park Forever's successful restoration efforts.

"Emerson's sustained investment in Forest Park is truly inspiring," said Steve Finerty, Chairman of the Forest Park Forever Board of Directors. "This $5 million gift bolsters the Forest Park endowment for the long-term while also helping us complete this next round of Master Plan improvement projects. The Park's 13 million annual visitors will benefit from Emerson's commitment for many years."


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Forest Park Designated a Top 10 Great Public Space
The Dennis & Judith Jones Visitor and Education Center (formerly the Lindell Pavilion) was built in 1892 as a shelter for streetcar passengers. After a $4 million restoration, the facility is now home to Forest Park Forever, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising private funds for the restoration of Forest Park.

Forest Park Designated a Top 10 Great Public Space
ST. LOUIS, (SLFP.com), October 4, 2013 - The American Planning Association (APA) has announced the designation of Forest Park as one of 10 Great Public Space for 2013 under the organization's Great Places in America program. APA Great Places exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planning and planners play in adding value to communities, including fostering economic growth and jobs.

APA singled out Forest Park, the "heart" and "crown jewel of St. Louis," for its enduring design, myriad cultural institutions, amenities, and 137-year history. The Park, which attracts some 13 million visitors annually, completed a $100 million restoration within the last decade. It is the nation's seventh largest urban park with 1,371 acres, making it 60 percent larger than New York's Central Park.

"It's hard to imagine that just 20 years ago this cultural and historic icon was in an embarrassing state of disrepair," said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. "Forest Park's restoration is the result of a multi-pronged planning effort - involving residents and public-private partnerships - that integrated the Park's natural and man-made features to allow for a cohesive and complete visitor experience."

"Forest Park is the best urban park in America, and it is getting even better," said The Honorable Francis G. Slay. "That is a result of a unique public-private partnership between the City and Forest Park Forever. We are very pleased and proud, but not surprised by the new designation."

It was Forest Park's selection as the site of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition that thrust it onto the world stage. The Park's design by George Kessler, a prominent landscape architect, resulted in dramatic changes, including the transformation of wetlands into five connected lakes. In addition to the Saint Louis Art Museum, four other institutions - a zoo, science center, history museum and the nation's largest outdoor amphitheater dedicated to musical theater - call Forest Park home.

Decades of deferred maintenance took its toll on the Park and by the 1970s its infrastructure was crumbling. A 1993 master plan, developed by the nonprofit Forest Park Forever and the City of St Louis, led to creation of a public-private partnership, which raised more than $100 million to restore buildings, landscapes, habitats and roadways.

"We are thrilled that APA has shined its national spotlight on Forest Park," said Lesley Hoffarth, President and Executive Director of Forest Park Forever. "Our staff, board of directors, members, donors and partners have worked extraordinarily hard in recent decades to restore this essential community treasure for our millions of visitors. While our important work continues - every day, across every acre - we are proud to take this moment to celebrate this meaningful designation."

"Forest Park is a special place for St Louis," said City Parks Director Gary D. Bess. "Everyone has a unique memory of the Park. For some, it's a place they were married, and for others it's a visit to the Zoo or playing their first ball game. Due to our unique relationship with Forest Park Forever, we have been able to transform Forest Park from a special place for St Louis to a special place for the country."


Fountain at World's Fair Pavilion
The newly renovated fountain on Government Hill beneath the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park.

Forest Park Is the 'Crown Jewel' of St. Louis
In 1876, Forest Park was created from 1,371 acres of land west of downtown St. Louis. By the 1890s, the public park was widely used for recreation with bicycle paths, baseball diamonds and lawn tennis courts. An expanded lake provided parkgoers with an opportunity for boating in the summer and skating in the winter. Funds were raised to develop the St. Louis Zoo by the Forest Park Zoological Association.

The western half of the metropolitan park was used as the site for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904. Today, the Saint Louis Art Museum occupies one of the few remaining structures built for the Fair. The Missouri Historical Society is comprised of the new Emerson Electric Center and the Jefferson Memorial Building. The building was the first memorial built to honor Thomas Jefferson and was funded with proceeds from the 1904 Fair.

A natural amphitheater near Art Hill was developed as The Muny in 1917 with proceeds from a theatrical production called the Pageant and Masque which was performed on a stage built over part of the Grand Basin.

In 1936, an Art Deco-style Conservatory opened in Forest Park. The Jewel Box is surrounded by rose gardens, lily ponds, statuary and monuments and houses seasonal displays.

The site of a razed Mounted Police Station became space for the McDonnell Planetarium which was completed in 1963. In 1984, the city sold the Planetarium to the Museum of Science and Natural History. The building, renamed the St. Louis Science Center, is connected by a highway overpass and tunnel to its new headquarters, south of Forest Park.

Private donors to Forest Park Forever paid for the $1.1 million restoration of the World's Fair Pavilion. The current renovation is the first of three scheduled phases of Forest Park Master Plan. Forest Park is used by more than 13 million visitors a year. Forest Park Forever was founded in 1986 to work in partnership with the Department of Parks, Recreation & Forestry to rehabilitate and maintain the Forest Park as the "Crown Jewel" of the metropolitan area.

The annual Great Forest Park Balloon Glow and the Great Forest Park Balloon Race is held on Central Field, located just north of the Jewel Box. The Concours d'Elegance and Easter Car Show is held on the Muny upper parking lot.


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