The 1.9-acre park was dedicated in 1962, part of the massive urban redevelopment of the city’s downtown area that accompanied the construction of the Gateway Arch and Busch Stadium II. It is a connector of sorts between the Gateway Arch on the Mississippi riverfront and the Gateway Mall, a series of several parks along Market Street in the Downtown and Downtown West Neighborhoods.
The plaza is named for Harry J. Kiener, born in St. Louis on February 27, 1881, a lifelong amateur sportsman who was a member of the U.S. track team that competed in the 1904 Olympics held in St. Louis during the World’s Fair. Kiener was also a steel executive. Upon his death at age 80 in 1960, he bequeathed funds for a fountain with an athletic figure — “The Runner” sculpture, one of the park’s highlights along with the May Amphitheater.
Kiener Plaza reopened this past May after more than a year of construction and $23 million spent on remodeling. The revamp includes more open space, a grassy concert area west of the Old Courthouse, a large playground with splash pad and multiple fountains. More than 140 trees were planted in the plaza as part of the project in addition to lush new gardens.
Gone is the sunken amphitheater on the park’s west end, which held about 500 people. The new concert lawn space across from the Old Courthouse can accommodate about 2,000 people for events.
The fountain featuring “The Runner” sculpture has been made smaller to bring visitors closer to the park’s center rather than the edges. On the north side is a gravel-paved shady picnic and rest area reminiscent of French garden pathways, and much of the park now features marble, granite and concrete pavers.
Selux Olivio Sistema 2 luminaries were used throughout the park to illuminate this well-known downtown gathering spot. Its precision light is a perfect fit for the many pedestrian walkways and sitting areas without interfering with the beautiful views of the Gateway Arch.