Valley Park, Missouri

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Valley Park, Missouri

Country United States
State Missouri
Settled 1917 (incorporated)
Population 6,942 (2010 census)
Area (sq mi) 4.02 mi²
Current mayor Chandra Webster

Valley Park is a city in West St. Louis County, Missouri. It had a population of 6,942 at the 2010 census.


As its name suggests, Valley Park evolved from a settlement in the lower Meramec valley southwest of St. Louis. A small number of French and German colonists settled there in the late 18th century, taking advantage of the rich bottomland along the river, followed in turn by American pioneers. The construction of the Missouri Pacific Railroad through the area in the 1850s, with the addition of a local station, led to the development of a small village known variously as "Meramec Station" or "Nasby," among other names. The community only took off, though, in the 1880s, with the construction of hotels and resorts, as the scenic valley and rural setting attracted upper- and middle-class St. Louisans looking to escape hot summers in the city. Reflecting this new livelihood, the name "Valley Park" was adopted sometime around the year 1900.[1]

Despite the tourism business, the community's permanent population remained small until the establishment of the St. Louis Plate Glass Company in 1907, employing some 500 workers at one point. The influx of workers attracted other businesses, earning Valley Park a reputation as a center of manufacturing as well as tourism, and its population surged from 150 in 1900 to 3,500 in 1910. It was incorporated as a city in 1917; however, this followed a devastating flood of the Meramec in August 1915 that damaged many of the recently established factories. Many of them relocated soon afterwards, and while the resorts remained for several decades, later floods destroyed most of them as well.[2] However, one of the oldest, the Frisco Hotel (built around 1880) still stands on Front Street.

During the mid- and late 20th century, as the St. Louis metropolitan area expanded, Valley Park evolved into a typical suburban community, with tourism no longer being such an important economic pillar. After additional floods in the early 1990s, the Meramec Valley River Basin Levee was constructed in 2006, which has kept most of the city dry from similar events thereafter (though controversy has arisen from the shifting of such flooding to other nearby communities, such as Eureka.

In 2006, in an attempt to discourage illegal immigration, the Valley Park Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance penalizing local business owners who aided the practice, including landlords who rented to illegal aliens or employers who hired them. The city was sued by the ACLU and other radical groups, but ultimately the ordinance was partially upheld and is still in force (though it appears never to have been enforced). Much of its language was adopted in legislation passed by the Missouri legislature in 2008 to combat illegal immigration.[3]


Valley Park is located along Missouri State Highway 141 (the original area of settlement lying mostly to the east) in western St. Louis County, about 15 miles southwest of downtown St. Louis. It is directly bordered by the communities of Manchester and Twin Oaks to the north, and Fenton to the southeast. Its official coordinates are 38°33′19″N 90°29′18″W.

The city's southern boundary is formed by the Meramec River, the downtown section lying between that body of water and elevated uplands to the north and northwest. This was the region most prone to severe flooding prior to the construction of a levee in 2006. Valley Park has a total area of 4.02 square miles, and an average elevation of 427 feet.[4]


At the 2010 census, Valley Park had a total of 6,942 inhabitants, grouped into 2,974 households, with a population density of 1,826.8 people per square mile. This figure represented a moderate increase from the 2000 census, when Valley Park had a population of 6,518. 85.06% of the inhabitants were White, 3.96% were African-American, 0.37% were Native American, 6.31% were Asian, 1.96% were from some other race, and 2.33% were from two or more races. Hispanics of any race were 3.92% of the population.

The median age in Valley Park was 34.9 years, with 23.1% of inhabitants under the age of 18, 8.0% between 18 and 24 years old, 33.2% between 25 and 44, 22.6% between 45 and 64, and 13.1% 65 years old or older. The sex ratio was 47.8% male, 52.2% female.[5]

According to the 2018 American Community Survey, Valley Park had a median household income of $62,467, and a median family income of $78,250. The unemployment rate was 3.0%. The per capita income was $34,309. About 9.5% of the population lived below the poverty line, including 12.9% of people under the age of 18 and 6.2% of people 65 years old or older.[6]


Valley Park is a 4th-class city, with a mayor-council form of government. Its mayor is elected every two years, and the eight aldermen, two representing each of the city's four wards, are also elected for two-year terms in alternating years; in addition to voting on city-wide ordinances, they also serve on the various boards and committees. The current mayor of Valley Park is Chandra Webster.[7]

In the Missouri House of Representatives, the city is part of the 99th District, represented since 2019 by Trish Gunby (D-Ballwin), a self-described "Social Justice Warrior."[8] It is part of the 15th District in the Missouri State Senate, represented since 2016 by Andrew Koenig (R-Manchester). It also belongs to Missouri's 2nd Congressional District, represented since 2012 by Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin).


For much of the 20th century, Valley Park was a local center for manufacturing as well as tourism. Many of the enterprises devoted to these activities were ultimately lost to various floods; however, some industry remains in the city today, mostly in the field of construction and related materials. Health care, education, retail trade, and service businesses make up the other important elements of the local economy.


The first school opened in Valley Park in 1882, though a high school class did not graduate until 1934. Today, the Valley Park School District includes the city as well as neighboring Twin Oaks and unincorporated portions of St. Louis County. It has a total enrollment of about 900 students in grades K-12. Its mascot is the Hawks, and the school colors are blue, white, and orange.[9]

The school has been repeatedly honored for its academic achievements in recent years, including receiving the National Blue Ribbon Award in 2012 and being ranked as the 15th best high school in Missouri in 2018.[10]

Community Life

Though most of Valley Park's older structures have been destroyed by flooding, two notable landmarks remain--the Valley Park Elevator on Marshall Road, built in 1887 and the last operational grain elevator in St. Louis County; and Sacred Heart Catholic Church, completed in 1908, which stands just off Highway 141 and is the most striking feature of the cityscape. In addition, there are a number of parks and trails, the largest of which, Simpson Park on the east side of town (which is maintained by the county), covers over 200 acres. Since the construction of the levee along the Meramec, a three-mile-long asphalt trail has been laid out giving scenic views of the riverfront.[11]

The city holds a number of annual community events, including Halloween hayrides and Christmas parades, as well as periodic "Music in the Park" performances during the summer months.