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Urban Renewal Destroyed St. Louis’ Early Chinatown, Hop Alley

June 12, 2008 Downtown, History/Preservation 19 Comments

The other day I was reading a post by my friend Rick Bonash over on his blog STL Rising. The post was then called, “Busch Stadium Should Have Not Been Built” Here is an excerpt:

Busch Stadium should not have been built because it replaced a thriving Chinatown in downtown St. Louis referred to as “Hop Alley”. People don’t often think of St. Louis as a destination for Asian immigrants, but it did at one time have it’s own Chinatown.

Hop Alley was tiny compared to the Chinatowns of New York and San Francisco. I wasn’t around at the time, but from what I’ve read, it was real, and it was located at the site of the former Busch Stadium. When the stadium was built, a number of former uses were removed, to make way for the new ballpark.

Had Busch Stadium remained in North City at Grand and Dodier, Hop Alley in downtown St. Louis would have been preserved, and St. Louis today would be more urban and ethnically diverse. True fact? Maybe so? We really don’t know and we can’t say. That’s not our history, so basing arguments on the premise really can’t be proven either way.

As much as St. Louisans loath change, our history is one of steady changes. Today, we have a thriving Asian district along Olive Boulevard. It’s much larger than the old Hop Alley, running nearly from the city limits on the east to west of 170 in Creve Coeur and Olivette.

Busch II, our first downtown baseball stadium, was part of a wave of downtown redevelopment which included the Arch and many of the office towers downtown. From an academic perspective, one might ask, what would have happened if instead of downtown, the Cardinals chose to move to the western suburbs? That didn’t happen either, but it’s fun to think of the possibile outcomes. Some might suggest the Cardinals leaving St. Louis proper would have been good for the city.

They might argue that city leaders would then have been forced to consider a future without major league sports. Older buildings would have been preserved, so there would have been more rehab opportunities. Remember though, this was the 1960s, and historic preservation had not reached the economic leveraging potential we see today. So perhaps, the buildings demolished for Busch Stadium and other new construction would have been lost anyway. We don’t know.

After posting a comment that I agreed with him he lets me down with his response:

Sorry Steve,

The headline must have worked because it was intended to work as a misdirection. Personally, I’m very happy Busch II was built, and Busch III.

Last night, I didn’t have tickets to the ballgame, but stopped into one of the downtown restaurants (newly updated) for a beer after work. The place was packed with baseball fans.

The real point I was trying to make with the post was that as a community we need to move forward together rather than beat ourselves up over years’ old decisions.

Imagine if you were sitting at a table in the restaurant I was in last night, surrounded by baseball fans, and someone proclaimed, “they never should have built Busch Stadium downtown.” It would sound like crazy talk.

Think how the self-doubt discussions about St. Louis sound to newcomers. Not very good.

So after more than 30 years since we took homes and businesses from people we have a restaurant full of baseball fans as evidence of the success of the decision. The Chinese area along Olive appears larger because it is sprawled along the road in typical American suburban fashion.

I too had heard that the old Busch Stadium had replaced our Chinatown but now I was curious to know more so I turned to the Journal of Urban History and a paper titled “‘Hop Alley’: Myth and Reality of the St. Louis Chinatown, 1860s-1930s” by Huping Ling. In this well researched and detailed account of the place and how it came to be:

In the late nineteenth century, the booming city of St. Louis, Missouri, attracted many from different parts of the world.It is during this time that Chnese started to arrive in St.Louis. The first recorded Chinese immigrant was a tea merchant named Alla Lee, who is reported to have arrived in 1857 from San Francisco. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Chinese community in St. Louis had grown to about three hundred. This community was physically centered in “Hop Alley,” a seemingly mysterious place that inspired tall tales to he contemporaries and is little known to the present St. Louisans. Along Seventh, Eighth, Market, and Walnut Streets, Chinese hand laundries, merchandise stores, grocery stores, restaurants, and tea shops were lined up to serve Chinese residents and the ethnically diverse larger community of St.Louis, the fourth largest city in the United States at the time.

Tall tales indeed. Accounts indicated a national anti-Chinese bias with many thinking that while they were exotic they were inferior to the white man. This paper talks about the racial discrimination Chinese persons faced and how places were raided at the slightest hint of interracial relationships.

So when the white men in charge of St Louis’ urban renewal program had finished decimating many poor black, Polish and Irish neighborhoods the next group would be the Chinese. In 1960 they blighted Hop Alley as part of the Civic Center/Stadium Redevelopment Area. Nearly 50 years ago.

The area included the homes and businesses of a large percentage of our Chinese population. Of course that also meant that 8th & Market had residential & commercial uses. We spent tons of taxpayer money to take property from people and then millions more to find ways to get people living downtown. Today the area around the former Busch stadium is about as lifeless as it could be — Bank of America, the vacant old American General HQ building, parking garages and the hotel that replaced the failed 1968 experiment with the Spanish Pavilion from the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Think about how dead the sidewalks are along Market, Walnut and 8th — we have urban renewal to thank for that. This redevelopment plan was so successful we had to blight the area again for the latest Busch stadium and the promised Ballpark Village.

What if Busch stadium had stayed on North Grand rather than wiping out an ethnic enclave? Hard to say, with so many other forces at play the northside still would have been hard hit by massive white & black flight. Other cities enjoy stadiums that are part of dense neighborhoods — that could have been the case here too. I just wonder what could have become of Hop Alley and all of downtown had urban renewal not taken out large swaths of land — taking with it homes and businesses. People move and so do businesses but when you wipe clean all history of multiple blocks at a time and then take a few years to build back a few single use buildings then you must accept that you’ve lost something along the way that no mirrored building can ever replace.

No matter how much we love seeing the Cardinals play we need to realize the cataclysmic change of urban renewal was a mistake. Displacing thousands of residents and business owners was wrong. I believe downtown would be better off today with this and other areas (Arch Grounds, Gateway Mall, Convention Center, etc) still intact. Without 50 years of big government intervention downtown could have naturally & incrementally evolved as it had done since St Louis’ founding.

Of course St Louis was not alone in this process — every city big and small were convinced by Architects & Planners that the only way to save cities was to rip then apart and rebuild.  Cities were willing to toss aside major areas in order to get their share of federal urban renewal dollars.  What we don’t have is a city that didn’t go for highways and urban renewal so we can see if the predictions of gloom came true.  At the time St Louis began its urban renewal madness we our population had peaked at around 850K and they were projecting over a million in the coming decades.  We are at 350K instead.

We do know that the Soulard neighborhood was targeted as a neighborhood to be completely razed and replaced with cul-de-sac streets and ranch houses.  The housing stock & street grid was said to be obsolete.  Today Soulard is very pricey and in demand.  Those obsolete structures have been updated with modern mechanical systems rather than being leveled.

As we label large areas for redevelopment today (such as Cortex) it is important to remember that all the prior clear-cut redevelopment areas have been uniform failures that often end up being blighted repeatedly in the hopes of finally getting it right.   All the housing projects have been razed and rebuilt save for the Pruitt-Igoe site which has sat vacant for 35 years now — longer than the buildings were standing! Mill Creek Valley was a failure too.  Each of these projects did achieve one goal  — forcing the poor to relocate elsewhere.  Government set lending policies that basically guaranteed to mortgage money in the core of regions.  The only money that could be had was for the raze and start over experiment known as urban renewal.

Without urban renewal to clear land the Cardinals would have been forced to stay on North Grand or flee to the new suburbs.  Either way they would have likely remained in the region.  And in either case a major section of our downtown would have escaped the wrecking ball.  Without urban renewal money, in fact, much more of our old downtown would still be in place today, most likely including Hop Alley.

It is not self doubt to recognize that half a century ago the entire country was fooled into thinking urban renewal programs that leveled 20+ blocks at a time was a good thing.  Even if we like some small piece of the result we still need to recognize the folly of the logic lest we continue to repeat past mistakes.

In the 1960s St Louis actually bucked a major trend.  Instead of locating the symphony in a new modern facility we renovated an old theater on Grand — The Powell where they perform to this day.  At the time the vogue thing to do was located all cultural & sporting venues in new modern facilities in downtowns.  The logic being that if you cram enough stuff into the downtown everyone will be forced to drive there eventually.    So the urban renewal programs moved out existing residents and their businesses  on the unproven hope that enough cultural/sporting venues would do the trick.  This was all unproven at the time but city after city did the same thing hoping the Architects & Planners were right.  They were wrong, oh so wrong.

Rick is right that we have what we have today and we must move forward.  In moving forward we must recall these past mistakes and not repeat them.


Currently there are "19 comments" on this Article:

  1. Amber says:

    Denver has a strangely similar history in a few ways. They also had an area called Hop Alley in what is now LoDo. There is actually a plaque to commemorate the riot that took place there, and it’s only a few blocks from what is now Coors Field. Big differences are the area around Coors Field is thriving, depending on your point of view and fondness for condos all over the place, but still it is thriving; they also didn’t tear down everything around Coors Field, there is still quite a bit of the history embedded. Every time I go home I see people everywhere walking in that area, hardly a ghost town like the area in St. Louis.

  2. john says:

    The Big Brother (“We Know Better”) mentality became a dominant feature of local politics in the 50s and grew with time. Being from a family that owned numerous buildings in the CWE and having businesses located on Locust, getting accountability and law enforcement services required connections and money. Watching and listening to leadership destroy an urban core, even brag about it, showed that the area lacked soul and cared little about what is being sacrificed to benefit favored groups. Really not much has changed. It’s just not Hop Alley that was destroyed but a larger social fabric.
    – –
    There was once Gas Light Square, a beautiful Union Station where I use to take my train trips from, and I vividly remember going to Sportman’s Park with my father. And yes I have a baseball signed to me from Musial that looks used as it was from playing with friends. My grandmother along with two other women designed and help start the Womens’ Chamber of Commerce of StL and served as President.
    – –
    Change can be great but here it has been mismanaged and the fallout has and will continue to be severe. Highways have split neighborhoods and subsidized sprawl. Businesses like SW Bell, McD-Douglas, the May Co., AGEdwards, Boatmen’s-Mercantile Banks, Pulitzer and now Anheuser Busch have become taken over by absentee owners. Meanwhile local leadership remains divided and talent diluted by design. The downward spiral shows few signs of reversing as demonstrated by what is happening to near north, BPV, and the design of the New 64. Moving forward will require the region to unify and create a social fabric that fosters livable and prosperous neighborhoods. What’s the chances of that?

  3. DeBaliviere says:

    And we’re left with quite possibly the lamest Chinatown in the country.

  4. Digitizdat says:

    I’m not sure you can really call it a “Chinatown.” I mean, for me, that evokes images of a walkable neighborhood. What we have is is a series of restaurants and strip malls along a four lane highway. What about south south grand? It seems to me to be a burgeoning Asian district with several great Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants and services.

  5. Jim Zavist says:

    Given its location, next to downtown, Hop Alley was probably doomed, whether or not Busch II was built there. Older, low-rise buildings that could be purchased for the land value would’ve resulted in parking lots and redevelopment, much like has happened elsewhere around the city, and continues to happen around SLU and Busch III. Plus second and third generation immigrants have a tendency to climb the economic ladder and move to the burbs (much like how the local Jewish community has moved west), eliminating the heart of any ethnic community.
    More problematic, in retrospect, was the Cardinals’ move from Sportaman’s Park/Busch I on Grand. Would north St. Louis be less segregated and better off economically if Busch II had been built on the north side (much like how Wrigleyville has seen a renaisance around Wrigley Field in Chicago)? Or is St. Louis more like the south side of Chicago, where white flight has left Comiskey Park (or whatever it’s called these days) basically isolated?
    Finally, urban renewal is not an isolated, mid-century phenomenon. Remember that many buildings were demolished during the city beautiful movement a century ago to create the “parkway” from Union Station past City Hall down to the river. Change is inevitable, and a good thing. The alternative is stagnation and decay (see East St. Louis or Wellston). The best we can hope and work for is “good” growth . . .

    [slp — incremental change as the market changes is a good thing, large scale demolition of an area because of “those” people is bad.  Much of the problems we face today were created by the sudden & extensive change brought on by urban renewal.  It was too much too quickly for the city to absorb.  It was not organic change.] 

  6. john w. says:

    The only urban ‘renewal’ that I can see as reasonable to apply to an existing fabric, at least at the scale that it was most famously in last century in America and post-war England, is in the wake of total, undesired anhilation such as a catastrophic storm or murderous blitzkrieg. All other forms are totally unacceptable.

  7. Keep it real says:

    The history of US cities is filled with mind-bending mistakes and miscalculations. However, as we cast around blame for changes we don’t approve of, we should be mindful that some of these areas that were cleared were, in fact, slums. Much of the housing was very substandard, lacking bathroom facilities and other ‘modern conveniences’ that were essential to public health. Unplanned massive displacement of organic communities was bad. But let’s not romanticize inferior and dangerous conditions.

    [slp — let’s remember that the label “slum” was liberally applied to all areas they wanted to raze.  Soulard & Lafayette Square were slums and were planned to be razed.  Remember too that the feds wouldn’t guarantee loans in many of these neighborhoods so even if a person wanted to renovate the building they’d have to do it on a cash basis.] 

  8. john w. says:

    The Desoto-Carr ‘slum’ was cleared for that most fabulous of ‘modern’ urban renewal projects of Pruitt-Igoe. How should we romanticize that?

  9. John M. says:

    Following up Johns thoughts on corporations influence in the community.

    In the time period we are speaking of Busch II, and the other buildings being developed at the time in the 60’s, including the arch for that matter, it was a time of great corporate influence. Civic Progress, a collection of CEO’s in St. Louis’ top corporations had an enormous amount of energy and ability to get things done in St. Louis proper. These CEO’s of the above mentioned corporations and a few omitted such as Ralston Purina, TWA and Monsanto were beneficial to the community as a whole. Yes they made mistakes. But their heart was in the right place, for the most part, considering the times. Those days for the most part are over. If you look at the list of these huge companies at the time, they were mostly family owned right here in St. Louis.

    The loss of these corporations to us and to those involved in that group, their contemporaries has and will continue to wreak devastating impacts on the overall quality of life in St. Louis. Do you honestly believe we would enjoy some of the things we enjoy without their presence? I don’t.

    I wish this wasn’t true, but having grown up with the knowledge that we were disproportionately populated with very successful homegrown corporations in our city led me to believe in the restorative power we could overcome given the resources these people and their companies could provide us and ultimately each other.

    As an example, numerous times TWA was in trouble, these corporations would buy ‘advance tickets’ to keep TWA humming along. Look at the zoo and the numerous doations made to keep it pertinent and FREE. This and many other forms of cooperation cannot and will not exist in the corporate schemes of today. It is simply out of date and not feasible.

    You can call it mismangement if you like. I disagree except in the TWA case. They were mismanaged, but the industry as a whole conforms to that description minus a few companies such as Southwest. But even their success for this year is directly attributed to the buying of oil futures. A model only one other company had done.

    So yes, I am saddened by the loss of a little known treasure in St. Louis, but I am more threatened by the continued loss of one institution of St. Louis after another, Ralston, Mallinckrodt, SBC(at&t), May Dept. Stores, McDonnell Douglas, Edward Jones, TWA, and more that go unlisted due to a brain malfuinction in me.

    When losing the headquarters, you lose the profits on that corporation which indirectly benefit corporate giveback programs in the local community, on monies that did not neccessarily orignate here, unlike a salary. So while I could reminisce with you about a place I never experienced, I am more disheartened at the news of the week, Anheuser Busch. A reality I am just not ready to accept. I know I am a corporate romantic. It was how I was raised.

  10. John M. says:

    I didn’t mean edward jones, told you my brain stopped working. AG Edwards.

  11. john says:

    Perhaps you prefer to believe that their hearts were in the right place but the path to decay is full of good intent. Personally knowing many of these families I’m aware of many sides of these stories. I did not attempt to list them all as it is quite extensive. The key points are that the region is highly divided by design, the leadership talent pool is diluted, and thus creating change, making progress, etc. is more difficult in this region compared to other cities.
    – –
    A corporate romantic? Perhaps many would label Steve as an urban romantic. But that misses the main points and particularly what makes progressive, livable and vibrant cities/communities…that is what Steve and others here are debating. The use of the word management is a relative term in the business world that reflects the ability to generate financial returns on capital. I never stated that the companies were “mismanaged” but rather urban policies.
    – –
    Ralston (Danforth family) and many others have cashed in and were acquired by outsiders. They were not the successful companies on a national scale that grew and bought out other companies. In StL they were powerful but on the world stage they were not considered managed well enough to be the ultimate winner. Anyone who closely follows the beverage industry recognizes the many failed policies of A-B, the missed profit opportunities and failure to succeed globally. Ergo a vulnerable franchise that needs new management in order to generate returns more in line with its capital base. The company has basically two choices: 1. Slim down (reduce payroll) & become efficient so that the company can be valued with a higher P/E; or 2. Look to entrench management via acquiring another company like Modelo. The first option will only work if the company has a loyal base of shareholders who will refuse to tender.
    – –
    In attempting to improve the attractiveness of the Arch grounds, Danforth has virtually stated that the design of our major roads/highways has created an environment that is unattractive, unfriendly to people and thus will never reflect its true potential. Totally agree, but where did he build his new home?

  12. Jim Zavist says:

    Distinguishing between racism (“those people”) and greed (“economic development”) is tough. One significant actor in development is land cost. Immigrants (“minorities”) are usually at the bottom of the economic ladder (“poor”) and, like everyone else, live in the best housing they can afford. First-generation immigrants (like my grandparents) also tend to cluster in ethnic enclaves, where there’s safety in numbers in a strange land. Subsequent generations, as they learn the language and blend into our melting pot, have fewer constraints, including overt and unspoken discrimination. Yes, skin color and distinctive features are much bigger hurdles to overcome than language, but having marketable skills is the biggest determinant in how successful one will be in one’s life.
    Any place where land values are increasing (“location, location, location”) will feel redevelopment pressures. Whether it’s government-sponsored (“urban renewal”) or privately-funded (Blairmont), there’s not a whole lot any community can do to resist it. The power of the law and the power of the dollar is a tough duo to beat. Whether property is being blighted, condemned and acquired through condemnation or whther a developer is offering to buy and assemble properties for more than reason or the market would expect, one needs to be pretty determined to stay put, especially if most of your neighbors are leaving, out of either fear or greed.
    Is it fair? I don’t know. I’ve moved enough over the course of my life that I really don’t have strong roots anywhere. If my family had several generations of history in one place, especially in one neighborhood or community, I’d probably feel differently. I’m also, as an architect, a tiny part of the whole building and development industry – my paycheck depends on stuff being built or remodeled. So, change doesn’t scare me, although too many times it does disappoint me. And, having moved to St. Louis, the true local scope of rust-belt decay/stagnation is both surprising and more than a little bit scary. That’s why I lean toward the “let’s move forward” side of the equation.
    Yes, we need to learn from past “mistakes”, but we also live in a different time with much different attitudes and many more constraints. Will those in power still make back-room deals? Of course they will. Will some of us be disappointed, knowing that things could’ve been been done differently and, likely, “better”? Of course. How do we change this? Simple – get the power. Run for office. Talk to candidates, before and after they get elected. Stay involved. Be a squeaky wheel. Stay informed. Don’t just say no – NIMBY and BANANA won’t get you very far. Work for change in small increments – we’re not, in the city, starting with a clean sheet of paper – what you see is what you’re starting with. The local economy doesn’t give us veto power. The alternative is stagnation followed by decline, which I doubt very many of us want . . . .

  13. Nick Kasoff says:

    Regardless of how I feel about the world’s most boring sport, it’s absurd to say that a bar full of baseball fans justifies wiping out a neighborhood. It might be legitimate to say that expansion of the city’s central business district required it. But you can put a stadium anywhere – nothing says it has to be downtown. I’ve always thought that Earth City would have been the logical place for sports facilities, while the industrial areas of the north side would have been better suited for the large warehouse and industrial operations which have located in Earth City.
    What we have on Olive isn’t Chinatown, it’s Chinastripmall. The neighborhoods surrounding Olive aren’t Asian ethnic enclaves.

  14. What a great post Steve!

    I totally agree!

    I’ve read chapters from Ling’s book and it’s especially disgusting to hear the stereotypical accounts of what was said of the Chinese. Urban Renewal is often a tool used to displaced unwanted minorities. This is a good historical example, while more recent we have McRee Town and Paul McKee. Not only does the problem go elsewhere, assuming it even exists as with Hop Alley, but this effectively destroys functional neighborhoods. Sure tenement housing, as an historical example, could be overcrowded or in disrepair, but the solution for this is pubic investment through tax credits and regulation of slum owners who prey on the poor and don’t invest in their property.

  15. Increased land values are inevitable, but the outcome is not. Land values are the one thing not taxed to anywhere near capacity. By taxing away the increase in land values, you are not rewarding the predations of speculators and high-end developers.

  16. John M. says:

    John, no doubt you have much to offer me in the way of insight, and I appreciate that. I would have to agree on the business side of things, Anheuser has been all too conservative to the globalization of its business. Sitting on its hands, too conservatively. IN addition knowing for a full year or more that a bid was in the works, yet did nothing that we all know about. The IV perhaps altogether a watered down version of previous strengths in his position. The second in command, Stokes, characterized by many as incompetent in the heights he was elevated, although I have no personal knowledge of this, just stories from those that worked for him. But just as in USA, you can hardly blame failed policy soley or even mostly on the president or in this case the CEO. Most of the information is filtered up and it is with reluctance that perhaps Busch is not the company it once was in the strength of its management.

    At one point Budweiser was looking to become a whole foods company, with beverages, bread, snacks and so on. There was a ton of effort poured into the diverisification of its business. They had another choice, become a global player in the adult beverage business. In the end they did neither, giving up much of the diversified companies, Eagle Snacks, Earth Grains, Campbell Taggart, yet hung with theme parks, sort of. There is no doubt, Busch can be criticisized on many levels for its failures, but that takes nothing away to me in what they added in value to what were the successes.

    I know the deal ultimately is done, but in my estimation the $40B being lent by banking institutions to finance the deal is irresponsible and they will be left holding the bag when it doesn’t pan out. They, the lenders are obviously are privy to the information most of us can only hypothesize about, but utlimately it is based on assumption of a company known today, not a former shell of itself as it must become in annual savings of $1.4B just to make the numbers work. InBEV tracing its roots to 1300’s is a joke to me. The reality being the current incarnation is borne soley of aquisition to grow, and I personally have very little respect for a company that follows this formula. It relies too heavily on the hard work of others as is ultimately a twilight business model that has no growth only a fairly quick extinction to look forward to. It also cheapens the hard work of others to achieve its goals.

    I can think of many that have followed this to their doom enriching a top few along the way, but utlimately creating nothing. When I say a business romantic, this slash and burn model would be its opposite. I refer only to the notion that most people need a profit motive. There must be a bigger picture in addition to the self preservation and humanity of desiring a little excess profit for oneself. Wow, analyzing my own thoughts, I am an idealist. Holy Crap, I wanted to be a realist. There goes that delusion.

    But I do not think I miss the point of what makes a community livable. Economic opportunity is ultimately the foundation to what makes a community successful. Sure location is important, as people like pretty places, but only if the ability to make money and a better life for yourself is available. I would only have to watch the animal kingdom to know this. The abundance of resources allows a community to realize the other dreams it may have for itself.

    And No, I do not know where he built his home. Ladue perhaps?

  17. GMichaud says:

    Old two and three story buildings were successfully integrated with downtown Toronto. In addition there are not the vast pedestrian wastelands for walking that is present everywhere in downtown St. Louis. Chinatown in Toronto is in the downtown area, as is Chinatown in San Francisco, both are in older, established buildings.

    The main difference is the way these cities are managed. Everything in St. Louis is regularly handed over to elite interests to do as they wish, (a la Paul McKee on the Northside, Pyramid and their various downtown failures etc.) In addition these failures come with government tax money as incentives for their misguided ventures.

    The result is a crappy city plan that fails to serve the public, but in their imagination serves the wealthy insiders well.

    Even when the individual building is a moderate success, such as the new Busch Stadium, there is a failure to integrate new development with the surrounding city. The failed Ballpark Village would not correct that problem. (Even with bucketfuls of public money once again)

    While I have not seen the Ling book, Ron Fagerstrom does a nice study of Mill Creek Valley before redevelopment, it has been available at Subterranean Books on Delmar in the Loop and I assume it still is.

    Choices have been made, and you can see from Fagerstroms book how the media participates in selling redevelopment to the citizens.

    We can argue all we want but until wealthy insiders stop receiving preference from the government, the City of St. Louis will continue mediocre planning policies designed to serve only a few.

    There is the misperception that if the city doesn’t get these huge developers, with the mega bucks and mega development capabilities, nothing can happen. One solution is to scale back development, perhaps to the single two to six story building scale. This would open up the process to many developers. (And Ballpark Village would be complete now).

    Old St. Louis was an economic engine, capitalism could literally be practiced on any street or any corner.

    The early St. Louis China town represented this participatory capitalism. St. Louis is now dominated by mall owners and their mega developer friends with a great deal of help from government policy makers in highways, zoning and urban planning. This elite corporate approach guts capitalism at its core.

    Citizens are left with a city and country bounding out of control, in the hands of self serving insiders. The result is the inability to respond to the energy crisis or other problems that America faces.

  18. JR says:

    Very interesting discussion, everyone has some valid points. I live near the new McRee Town, aka Botanical Heights, and I know in twenty years they will want to tear it down to try to do it right again. What a shame.

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