The movement for a beautiful and attractive City began in 1908 under an Act to provide for the organization of Park Districts, the transfer of submerged lands to those bordering on navigable bodies or water, enacted by the people of the State of Illinois as approved June 24, 1895, in full force July 1, 1895 and known as the "1895 Park Act."
The East St. Louis Park District created in 1908 by public referendum, is an autonomous body governed by five elected commissioners who serve a six year staggered term without remuneration. The district's corporate powers include the power to acquire and develop land for recreation and cultural purposes, to levy and collect taxes for the purpose of providing and maintaining a system of parks, streets, and recreational facilities, to establish a park policing unit, pass ordinances for the maintenance and management of these facilities, and establish user fees. The park district boundaries include East St. Louis, Centreville, Alorton, Washington Park, and the unincorporated area of Signal Hill.
During the early formation of the Park District, throughout the '40's, '50's, and early '60's, East St. Louis, Illinois was known as the City of homes, schools, churches, factories, foundries, and commerce. These hard working citizens then looked forward to pleasure, recreation, and recreational facilities. The park district strictly enforced its rules as "Keep Off The Grass" with a stern attendant's ever presence who made you walk the bicycles through the park rather than ride them and kept the citizens from plucking the beautiful flowers. Time surely changes conditions, especially if you were one fortunate to remember the parks "then" and the parks "now". The Park District's philosophy then was to design and build parks, which proved for the fullest use of public grounds in the service or recreation. Recreation to them meant the refreshment of strength and spirit after toil; through amusement, diversion and indulgence in healthy sports, the occupation of mind and body along lines of activities, which will counteract the exhausting influences of exertion in the grind of the daily work.
East St. Louis at that time doubles her population every ten years, however since the late '60's and the early '70's, the population has been on a steady decline with the loss of all of it's factories, foundries, and commerce it is trying to pull some substance of homes back into the City with developments such as Emerson Park Neighborhood, the Mount Sinai Church Projects and others. A city once known for its homes is now known for its vacant lots.