The Jewish roots of Downtown’s new ‘Citygarden’

What’s Jewish about our wonderful new Citygarden? Absolutely everything, because without funding from the Gateway Foundation there would be no transformation of three decrepit acres in the heart of downtown into an urban oasis with 23 sculptures, lush landscape, fountains and reflecting pools and, eventually, a caf é. You guessed it. The Gateway Foundation was created in 1985 by a Jewish family, the Aaron Fischers, and since its founding, Gateway has dotted the city with outstanding art.

The area between 10th and 8th streets and Market and Locust streets is divided into three bands – the Northern River Bluffs, the Middle Floodplain and the Southern River Terrace and each is planted appropriately with lush plants, shrubs, perennials, native grasses and wildflowers. The sculptures range from an exquisite Aristide Maillol bronze to a totally abstract construction of bolted and painted steel by Mark di Suvero. This is not just a hands-on sculpture park but it is also a playground where the kids climb and explore. You won’t find walls or fences, admission fees or do not touch signs, because Citygarden is always free. Not only is Citygarden free but you can take yourself on an audio tour by dialing 314-802-9571 on your mobile phone. To hear about a sculpture, you press the tour stop number found on the bronze disk beside the sculpture, and voila, you can learn about both the work and the artist. It’s a perfect outing for grandparents and their progeny as, while the kids play, the older folk can sit on the low two block long Missouri limestone wall. What I am telling you is only the tip of the iceberg or more appropriately the tip of Citygarden. Go see it for yourself.


ST. LOUISAN JO FIRESTONE, a 2009 Wesleyan University graduate and theater major, will appear in an original one act play Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite. Written by Jo and Dylan Marron, who is the other cast member, it premiered while both were students at Wesleyan. The play, Jo tells me, is a night all about middle school and the passion and/or the ugliness it tries so hard to contain. You can see Ridgefield Middle School Talent Nite on Aug. 6, 7 or 8 at The Tin Ceiling, 3159 Cherokee Street. To reserve your seat at $10 visit [email protected] or call Jo Firestone at 314-265-0353. In case you are wondering, yes, she is Dorothy and Billy Firestone’s granddaughter.

LEWIS AND CLARK MIDDLE SCHOOL in Jefferson City, Mo. is a real, not mythical, school which 12 years ago started collecting soda can tabs. The goal was to gather six million tabs representing that number of Jews lost in the Holocaust. Starting with one class, the project is still going strong, and multiple classrooms have studied the Holocaust and added to the collection which is saved in many barrels on the school’s second floor. Now the project to teach the Holocaust and to remember its innocent victims is almost at an end at Lewis and Clark, for the barrels are just about full. Once the goal of six million tabs is reached, students will recycle the materials and donate the money to the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center. It’s not too late to add your tabs in remembrance of those lost in the Holocaust. Send them to Beth Ayres at Lewis and Clark Middle School, 325 Lewis and Clark Drive, Jefferson City, Mo., 65101 or for more information call 573-659-3200.

LILI SANDLER is a four and a half pound black toy poodle with a warm, outgoing personality. She has never met a stranger, no matter the size, from a huge canine to a huge person. Lili has been trained as a therapy pet in Sarasota, Fla., although she has not practiced her trade in a year or so. Five-year-old Lili actually belongs to my significant other but spends her life sitting in my lap especially when I am at the computer doing what you are reading. Am I looking for a home for her? Heck no! What I am doing is testing the waters to see what the needs are out there for therapy pets. Let me know if you have any suggestions for Lili’s talents as she is equally good with children and adults. You can reach me at [email protected]