This is the last piece I completed for Steampunk Hands Around the World,
Lafayette Park, St. Louis, MO
Any Steampunk wanting to enjoy life’s natural pleasures would certainly enjoy a stroll through Lafayette Park in St. Louis, MO. Once a common area for grazing cattle in the early 1800’s, Lafayette Park was dedicated in 1851, as one of the first public parks in the nation. At almost thirty acres, it was also one of the largest parks of the time and was certainly the biggest Victorian Park west of the Mississippi River. It was named after the Marquis de Lafayette, a French statesman who had volunteered under George Washington during the American Revolution.
Sturdy black iron fences surround the park adding to its regal splendor. Four stone gateways mark each corner of the park with additional gates at each midpoint.
A large lake hosts a variety of water fowl including ducks and swans.
Walking paths treat the visitor to delightful expanses of fields, forestry, and fauna. The St. Louis Perfectos play Vintage Baseball on one of these fields. They follow the rules of America’s greatest pastime from 1860.
The recently refurbished iron bridge that crosses the Rockery is one of the most favorite places in the park for photos. Not far from the bridge is the Elizabeth Cook pavilion where many a celebration has been hosted. Just East of this scenic area is the Park House which was once a Police Station for the Lafayette Square area.
There are two historic statues in the park: George Washington and Thomas Hart Benton. Benton was Missouri’s first great senator. His tribute was created by sculptor Harriet Hosmer, who rose to fame and prominence in the late 1800’s art world despite being female.
Remembrances of war are also in the park, with two immense cannons that were salvaged from the 28 gun British frigate Actaeon that was scuttled in Charleston, South Carolina during the Revolutionary War in 1776 during the Battle of Sullivan’s Island. A group of veterans purchased the pair of cannons for the Park in 1897, a year after the Great Cyclone of 1896.
The Great Cyclone decimated the park and many of the colorful homes, known as the “painted ladies”,that surrounded it. After 5 p.m. on May 27, 1896, this massive tornado leveled almost every tree in the park along with the bandstand, pavilion, and boat house. 255 people in the greater St. Louis area were killed and hundreds injured. By the turn of the century, the neighborhood fell into disrepair and was actually given a slum number for city tracking purposes.
But the Park and the city rose from the despair of the storm and poverty. Today, Lafayette Park continues to host family and public events, including the ever popular twice annual house tour. Several committees and volunteers maintain its magnificence. It is a perfect place for a steampunk day or evening in the park.
The YouTube vlog for this post is here:
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