Neighborhood Gems: Shaw Park
St . Louisans aren’t lacking gorgeous green spaces in which to spend a pleasant afternoon. And Clayton families have their own special neighborhood gem: Shaw Park, located near the heart of the city’s business district. Founded in 1935, the nearly 48-acre park is Clayton’s oldest and largest.
From towering trees that provide lovely shaded picnic areas to playgrounds, pools and athletic courts, there’s something for everyone in the family. The park continues to be celebrated for a wide variety of youth programs, including hockey in winter and camps in summer. A new Tree Top Playground is universally accessible and includes a sensory garden, playground instruments and a splash pad.
Long before the land was transformed into a perennially popular playground for locals, it was owned by Charles Gratoit, brother-in-law of Auguste Chouteau, the founder of St. Louis. In 1820, the land was sold to Ralph Clayton (yes, that Clayton), who lived there until 1892.
The park was built in the 1930s with the help of federal funds, and officially dedicated in May 1937. The town made an event out of it, with a water carnival and school bands playing patriotic tunes. It was founded by and named for Charles A. Shaw, who served as Clayton mayor from 1933 to 1940. During his tenure, he helped pull the city out of the Great Depression by initiating Works Progress Administration projects that not only beautified the city, but also provided a library and the park that bears his name.
It’s no exaggeration to say that generations of Claytonians have found respite from the summer heat at Shaw Park—since the park’s opening, its aquatic center has included an outdoor pool and a competitive swimming team, the Clayton Shaw Park Tideriders. Once the largest swimming pool complex in the Midwest, today the center includes an outdoor Olympic-regulation dive tower, a rarity today, as well as a 50-meter competition pool and zero-depth children’s pool. Residents can partake in recreational, lap or competitive swimming, as well as a wide variety of classes and special pool events throughout the summer.
Since its opening, many improvements have been made to the park. The 1960s saw the creation of the Clayton Ice Rink and the Clayton Amateur Ice Hockey Association, as well as improvements and additions to the aquatic center. Recent additions to the park include more than a mile of walking paths, an adult fitness area and The Moneta Garden, a large native plant area that features multiple works of art by celebrated local artist Ernest Trova. Additional public art dots other areas of the park, and the recently built Enterprise Holdings Pavilion offers a large covered area ideal for special events or picnicking.
where » 27 S. Brentwood Blvd., in Clayton
when » Open year-round
why » To enjoy the park’s many amenities, including picnic spots, playgrounds and pools
Pictured: Enterprise Holdings Pavilion
Photos Courtesy of St. Louis County Parks Department