By Stephen Laming
Immediately east of the St. Louis, Missouri city limits lies the small region of University City. University City is home to a blend of historical and modern life: it is next to a beautiful, century-old park, but it also has a lively strip of restaurants and shops that comes alive at night. University City is centered around one of the nation’s most highly regarded schools, Washington University.
Often confused with the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington University (WashU) is a private, research-based institution. WashU was ranked among the top 15 universities in the country by The Wall Street Journal this year, alongside schools such as Cornell and Johns Hopkins.
Set on a beautiful 90-acre plot of land, WashU is a self-contained campus where no cars are allowed. Upon arrival, the first thing that comes to your attention are the buildings. Styled with Gothic architecture, the campus is reminiscent of 16th century England. The only reminder that you are at a modern university is the occasional glass-walled building. Having no cars on campus creates a peaceful environment where students can easily study or relax outside anytime, and running across students sitting in the grass or lying in an Eno Hammock while studying is a common occurrence.
Academically, Washington University is equally as appealing. According to students, the WashU student body is not competitive; instead, students work together, help, and support each other. Academics are definitely a main focus of the students, and sports culture is not very strong on campus. Former Match writer and WashU freshman (and my sister) Gillian Laming (’17) described the mentality of the student body by saying, “Students come here for their education. Sports definitely aren’t the primary focus of students’ attention. Instead, students care about broadening their horizons, giving back, and trying to make an impact on the world.”
Outside of school, St. Louis is the perfect city for a young professional. The state of Missouri has created a special organization, the Missouri Technology Corporation, that has the specific goal of helping small start-up companies gain momentum and attract young employees. This organization has proven to be successful, with St. Louis being called America’s “Startup Frontier.” Almost ten percent of the jobs in St. Louis are young companies, the second highest rate in the country.
A favorite place for students and young professionals to visit is Delmar Boulevard, commonly known as “The Loop.” Delmar Boulevard is not a loop nor any kind of circle, but it does have a large variety of restaurants, shops, musical performances, and a weekly farmers’ market. It has been called “One of the 10 Great Streets in America” by the American Planning Association. At night, “The Loop” is always filled with young students and local residents looking for exceptional food and live entertainment. As WashU freshman Arthi Sekharan says, “[Delmar Boulevard] is very lively any day of the week you go.”
For a break from urban life, students and residents also go to Forest Park, Washington University’s eastern neighbor. At 1,293 acres, Forest Park is about 500 acres larger than New York’s Central Park, and it is almost 150 years old, originally opening in 1876. Forest Park has been home to many famous events throughout its life, including the 1904 World’s Fair and the swimming, diving, and water polo competition at the 1904 Summer Olympics—the first Olympics ever held in the United States. Most of the structures from the Olympics and World’s Fair are still standing in the park today, open to visitors.
Once inside the park, parking is limited and walking is the main way of getting around. Walking exposes visitors to the beauty of the park, as you could spend days exploring the rolling hills, flower gardens, and small ponds. Forest Park also has an impressive list of attractions once inside. A mix between an amusement park and a nature conservatory, the St. Louis Zoo was crowned the “United States Top Free Attraction” by USA Today. The neighboring Art Museum is one of the nation’s leading art institutions, with over 33,000 pieces on display. The Missouri History Museum offers insight into the development of the Midwest and the role St. Louis played. And finally, the centerpiece of the park – a large statue of King Louis IX of France, for whom the city of St. Louis is named – sits on Art Hill. It looks over the Grand Basin, which was the center of the 1904 World’s Fair.
Featured image courtesy of Washington University Law School.