Illinois Day Trip: Greenville, Pocahontas, & Lebanon

My husband and I enjoy taking day trips, they’re inexpensive and interesting. Recently we went to Greenville & Lebanon Illinois, passing through Pocahontas between them. We’re both car guys so we don’t need much excuse to check out a car show. We took a break from viewing classics and had a …

Lack of Curb Ramps in Just Two Spots Ruins Otherwise Accessible Tower Grove Ave

One of the most frustrating things about using a wheelchair in the public right-of-way (ROW) is how many routes are 99% accessible — the 1% inaccessible part can be a bigger obstacle than you might think. Today’s example shows the lack of thought put into making an entire corridor accessible …

Readers: Remove/Change The Confederate Memorial

First, let me apologize for the lack of posts Monday & Tuesday, our new fiber optic internet in our building went out last Saturday night. Our building’s IT provider didn’t get it fixed until after 4pm yesterday. Sunday the poll software didn’t automatically close the poll at 8pm like I …

Sunday Poll: What Should St. Louis Do About The Confederate Memorial & Street In Forest Park?

Since nine people were shot & killed at a historically black church in Charleston S.C., the confederate flag has thankfully become politically toxic: In South Carolina, the governor called for the Confederate flag to stop flying over the capitol. The governors of Virginia and North Carolina quickly declared that they would …

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Illinois Day Trip: Greenville, Pocahontas, & Lebanon

My husband and I enjoy taking day trips, they’re inexpensive and interesting. Recently we went to Greenville & Lebanon Illinois, passing through Pocahontas between them.

While I wouldn't lie in a small town, I love visiting old small town downtowns.
While I wouldn’t lie in a small town, I love visiting old small town downtowns.
The scale of the buildings around a central square, or courthouse, is very appealing.
The scale of the buildings around a central square, or courthouse, is very appealing.
It was the day before Father's Day, they were hosting their annual car show.
It was the day before Father’s Day, they were hosting their annual car show. Click image for information on the car show

We’re both car guys so we don’t need much excuse to check out a car show. We took a break from viewing classics and had a nice lunch at Joe’s Pizza and Pasta, open for lunch because of the car show.  After we finished the car show we went back to our car and drove around the residential areas adjacent to downtown, very charming. Rather than get back on I-70 we took back roads, eventually making our way to Pocahontas IL.

This town was also charming, not as "redneck" as I'd imagined.
This town was also charming, not as “redneck” as I’d imagined. Click image to see Wilson’s 2004 hit “Redneck Woman.” Really, 11+ years already!?!

We didn’t stop anywhere in Pocahontas, we continued on the back roads. Part of the way we were on Highway 40 — no, not Interstate 64 — a 2-lane road.

We' passed through downtown Lebanon on the way to Dairy Queen 00 we had Groupon.
We’ passed through downtown Lebanon on the way to Dairy Queen 00 we had Groupon.

We took I-64 back to St. Louis, I considered sticking to the back roads but I was driving tired by this point. Enjoy the holiday weekend!

— Steve Patterson

Lack of Curb Ramps in Just Two Spots Ruins Otherwise Accessible Tower Grove Ave

One of the most frustrating things about using a wheelchair in the public right-of-way (ROW) is how many routes are 99% accessible — the 1% inaccessible part can be a bigger obstacle than you might think. Today’s example shows the lack of thought put into making an entire corridor accessible — it’s done piecemeal.

Saturday morning my husband and I took the bus to the Missouri Botanical Gardens, we spent a few hours there. Afterwards we decided to have lunch at OLIO  — just a short walk (map). Turning North on the East side of Tower Grove Ave I encountered a problem after crossing De Tonty St.

Tower Grove & De Tonty St
Tower Grove @ De Tonty St

The curb was lower to the right, but not enough that I could get up onto the sidewalk. Thankfully the bike lane exists, I used that on high speed to reach the next street as quickly as possible. At Lafayette Ave I looked back South and the same problem exists on this end!

Tower Grove Ave @ Lafayette Ave., that's my husband in the background catching up
Tower Grove Ave @ Lafayette Ave., that’s my husband in the background catching up

Good thing I couldn’t get onto the sidewalk at the other end — I couldn’t have gotten off on this end!

I crossed Lafayette Ave and got back on the sidewalk without any issues. I had no other problems after lunch, catching our bus a couple of blocks further North. So why hasn’t this small section been updated in the 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law? Fragmentation is my best guess. This sidewalk runs under I-44, so MoDOT is likely responsible instead of the city.

Another possibility is gerrymandering, both ends of this sidewalk are in the 19th ward. Yes…seriously!

This area is in the very bottom left area pf the 2011 ward boundaries.
This area is in the very bottom left area pf the 2011 ward boundaries. Click image to see a larger ward map.

To be fair, most likely this was in a different ward(s) before 2011. Still, the 19th Ward is probably the worst in the city for curb ramps.

My experiences have shown over and over again that nobody is concerned about making corridors accessible from end to end. A person examining Tower Grove Ave would’ve caught this issue. Maybe someone has but they can’t get funding from the 19th ward budget to correct it? Maybe MoDOT is aware but it too busy avoiding tolling I-70 to worry about two ramps.

The West side of Tower Grove is better — only one end is missing a ramp, at Lafayette.

— Steve Patterson

Readers: Remove/Change The Confederate Memorial

First, let me apologize for the lack of posts Monday & Tuesday, our new fiber optic internet in our building went out last Saturday night. Our building’s IT provider didn’t get it fixed until after 4pm yesterday.

Sunday the poll software didn’t automatically close the poll at 8pm like I had set it to do. As a result, the poll stayed open until I noticed it Monday morning — closing it via my smartphone. That said, the percentages are roughly the same as they were at 8pm the night before:

Q: What should St. Louis do about the confederate memorial & street name in Forest Park?

  1. Change the street name & remove the memorial from Forest Park 20 [28.17%]
  2. TIE: 14 [19.72%]
    1. Do nothing
    2. Change the street name & supplement the memorial with additional information
  3. Change the street name, leave the memorial in Forest Park 11 [15.49%]
  4. Leave the street name, supplement the memorial with additional information 10 [14.08%]
  5. TIE: 1 [1.41%]
    1. Unsure/no answer
    2. Other: Change the street name and move the memorial History Museum grounds 
  6. Leave the street name, remove the memorial from Forest Park 0 [0%]

The “do nothing” vote was less than 20%, conversely those who wanted change of some type was more than 78%. This is a great opportunity for a public process to brainstorm possible solutions that’ll help us reach a consensus. Last week I visited the confederate memorial to check it out, I’ve lived here almost 25 years and didn’t know about it until recently.

I also asked landscape architect Eären Hummel for her thoughts, which were:

  • I think there should be a dialog, rather than a reactionary move. Further, I don’t think the monument should have been placed there to begin with.
  • City parks are meant to be places for all people to have a respite away from their busy lives, I think a park is no place for a confederate memorial, especially without the balance of a union memorial. That may sound “politically correct”. A civil rights garden could be created of the area, if the process is inclusive of all the players that civil rights – or lack there of – has affected. Whatever is done, I think it is important that it is not just a bandage, but true dialog.
  • As far as I can tell, there is no monument to the Union soldiers in St. Louis, nor a Civil Rights monument/memorial other than the “Naked Truth” sculpture at the Compton water tower. And that is really a monument to 3 German men, and not really for the cause of civil rights. Meaning there is not civil rights memorial significant to African-Americans.
  • The lack of other memorials in St. Louis, I think speaks volumes about the attitudes of the people of StL. Reinforcing the notion of white supremacy, everyday racism… It is the ongoing issues that were raised in Ferguson last summer, but have since fallen silent. Personally, I think focusing on removing flags or memorials skirts around the true issues and are only platitudes to quiet the cries of racism.
  • One thing that greatly bothers me about the monument, is the statement on it about the “battle to preserve the independence of the states…” The war was fought over slavery, as very clearly stated in the southern states on declarations. It was treason. The statement on the monument is revisionist history of the “lost cause”. That I find offensive and reprehensible. For that alone, I wish the monument was not there as it perpetuates erroneous “history”.
  • I would leave the language as is, but definitely have a panel next to it explaining that it is wrong, and why many people wanted to rewrite the history of the war.
  • It is a beautifully crafted monument by a notable sculptor.
  • I believe a civil rights garden could be sensitively incorporated into the park. There have been numerous additions to the park over the years.

I agree the memorial represents revisionist history and shouldn’t have been built. Let’s take a look…

The confederate memorial was dedicated in 1914, rededicated in 1964. Click image for more information
The 32 foot high confederate memorial was dedicated in 1914, rededicated in 1964. Click image for more information
The sculpture is by George Julian Zolnay,
The sculpture is by George Julian Zolnay, Click image to read about him on Wikipedia
The words on the south face
The words on the south face
I could't read the revisionist  text on the north face
I could’t read the revisionist text on the north face
Confederate Dr is in poor condition
Confederate Dr is in poor condition, the memorial is on the right

Renaming, or even removing, Confederate Dr is a given — relatively easy. The memorial is a much more complicated issue. The words are offensive, but it is a good reminder of St. Louis’ race problem. I think we should discuss the creation of a civil rights garden that would educate visitors on events from our history, for example:

There are many more that could be included in a civil rights garden, these could all be told.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: What Should St. Louis Do About The Confederate Memorial & Street In Forest Park?

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Since nine people were shot & killed at a historically black church in Charleston S.C., the confederate flag has thankfully become politically toxic:

In South Carolina, the governor called for the Confederate flag to stop flying over the capitol. The governors of Virginia and North Carolina quickly declared that they would remove the flag from state license plates. Meanwhile, several of the country’s top retailers — from Walmart to eBay and Amazon — announced in quick succession that they would stop selling Confederate flag merchandise.

Not for the first time this year, the concerns of political leaders and business elites converged on a single issue — and swiftly forced dramatic change. (CNN: Why business fought the Confederate flag)

The confederate battle flag should’ve been banished decades ago, but what about other confederate symbols & memorials? Namely the confederate memorial in Forest Park…located on Confederate Drive:

Historians say don’t let the old artillery mislead you. Forest Park was never a civil war battle field. The only reason there a confederate statue here is because it is where the donor wanted it built back in 1914. But now, some want it gone.

For 100 years the statue has stood just east of the Missouri History museum and some would say on the southern side of the state’s Civil War history – a monument to Confederate “soldiers and sailors” built fifty years after the war. (KSDK: Confederate memorial debate in Forest Park)

Today’s poll question asks: “What should St. Louis do about the confederate memorial & street name in Forest Park?”

The poll, open until 8pm tonight, is at the top of the right sidebar. Mobile users will need to switch to the desktop view to vote.

— Steve Patterson

See Demolition Requests At Demolition Docket

Face it, building demolition in the City of St. Louis is a fact of life. Much of the city is in “preservation review” where we know city staff will review applications for demolition permits, denials are heard in public before the Preservation Board. But because we value fiefdoms, some wards are excluded from this review process. With so many vacant buildings, how is the average citizen to know when an owner wants to raze their building just down  the street?

Enter the Demolition Docket:

The St. Louis Demolition Docket is a private news service that reports the demolitions of buildings granted by the City of St. Louis. The Preservation Research Office publishes and compiles the report from public records maintained by the Building Division of the City of St. Louis.

The most recent post, from June 17, 2015. Click to view post.
The most recent post, from June 17, 2015. Click to view post.

Big thanks to Michael Allen and everyone involved for putting this together. This new site can be followed on RSS, Twitter, & Facebook. I’ve added it to the links in the sidebar — under both blogroll & research sources.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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