Great Rivers Greenway is working to make the St. Louis Region a more vibrant place to live, work and play by developing a network of greenways to explore and enjoy. With more than 128 miles of greenways constructed, there is probably one near you, making it easy to live more of your life outside. We are going to look at the River des Peres Greenway, which stands as a testament to urban revitalization and the power of community-driven initiatives. Over the years, this once-neglected waterway has been transformed into a vibrant green corridor that connects neighborhoods and offers great experiences along the way.
Fast Facts about the River des Peres Greenway
- Total Trail Length: 9.36 Miles
- Wide open green space that wraps around the River Des Peres as it winds its way to the Mississippi River.
- This greenway starts at the Shrewsbury Metrolink Station and travels all the way to Lemay Park.
- Trailheads are located at Francis R. Slay Park, Shrewsbury Metro Station, Futlz Field, Carondelet Park, Germania Street, Lemay Park.
- Point of interest along the way – Willmore Park
- This greenway has direct connections to the Gravois Greenway / Grant’s Trail via a new bridge over the River des Peres, just east of Interstate 55.
Living Near the Greenway
Timeline of Improvements
1998 – The Birth of a Vision
The transformation of the River des Peres commenced with a vision. In 1998, the Great Rivers Greenway District established a comprehensive greenway plan for the St. Louis region. They identified the River des Peres Greenway as a pivotal project in this plan, igniting hope for a greener, healthier future.
Early 2000s – The First Steps
The early 2000s witnessed the initiation of tangible improvements along the River des Peres. Developers began constructing initial sections of the greenway, providing residents with access to the river and its natural beauty. They shaped trails, landscaped the area, and installed signage.
2005 – The Opening of Francis R. Slay Park
A pivotal moment in the greenway’s history occurred in 2005 when they opened Francis R. Slay Park to the public. This 3.5-acre park became a symbol of progress and marked the first major step in transforming the River des Peres into a community asset.
2009 – A Milestone Achievement
In 2009, a significant milestone was achieved with the completion of a 1.5-mile segment of greenway, running from Christy Park to Alabama Avenue. This section provided a glimpse of the greenway’s potential as a recreational and environmental resource.
2010s – Expanding and Connecting
The 2010s saw continued growth and expansion of the greenway. Additional sections were developed, connecting more neighborhoods and parks along the River des Peres. These improvements included new trails, bridges, and the restoration of natural habitats..
Present Day – A Thriving Greenway
Today, the River des Peres Greenway is a thriving urban oasis. It offers residents and visitors opportunities for walking, biking, birdwatching, and enjoying the outdoors. Native plantings have improved the river’s water quality, and the greenway has become a source of pride for St. Louisans.
A Historical Perspective of the River des Peres
The River des Peres, a meandering waterway stretching approximately 9 miles, was once infamous for its neglect. Originally named “River of the Fathers” by early French settlers in the 18th century, it underwent a series of transformations over the years. It was channelized and straightened in the early 20th century to control flooding. However, in the late 20th century, city planners and environmentalists recognized its untapped potential. Consequently, they began to shape the idea of a greenway along the river, and the community rallied behind this vision.
The Great River Greenway is a testament to the resilience of communities and the transformative power of vision and dedication. From a polluted and forgotten waterway to a vibrant green corridor, its journey reflects the spirit of St. Louis. This revitalized gem serves as an inspiration for other cities seeking to reconnect with their natural heritage and build a healthier, more sustainable future for all.