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Kinloch Park; The Rapid Transit Suburb

Ads for new home building lots in May 1893 for the St. Louis suburb of Kinloch Park touted its transit connections — calling itself “the rapid transit suburb.”  Kinloch Park was served by the St. Louis & Suburban Electric Railway and the Wabash Railroad.  Building lots started at $40.

At first Kinloch Park was meant for whites only.  An online guide to African-American Heritage in St. Louis County tells the story of Kinloch:

People often wonder how the all-black community in northwest St. Louis County came to have the name, Kinloch. The name is Scottish in origin and means “at the head of the lake.” Some sources indicate that Major Henry Smith Turner named the area after his ancestral family name. Other sources state that the Scots settler, Major Richard Graham, who arrived in the area in 1807, named part of his land “Kinloch” after his holdings in Virginia. The area remained sparsely settled up to the end of the 19th century. A small number of blacks had land in the locality.

Kinloch Park was developed in the 1890s as a commuter suburb. The establishment of the Wabash Railroad from downtown St. Louis through the Kinloch area sparked development by whites. A small area of land was reserved for purchase by blacks, many of whom where house servants for Kinloch’s new homeowners. When a white land-owner sold to a black family a small parcel in an area of Kinloch restricted to whites, many whites sold their lots and moved, thus further opening the market to blacks.

The majority of blacks arrived in Kinloch during the 1920s. Many of them were black soldiers returning from service in World War I. Restrictive housing practices in St. Louis City made moving outside the city and away from the pressures of racial prejudice appealing to many blacks. The East St. Louis race riots in 1917 brought many Illinois residents to the area. Additional black settlement was abetted by the northern migration of blacks from the South.

The initial black church in Kinloch was the First Missionary Baptist Church, now at 5844 Monroe Avenue, dating from 1901. Other churches followed: First United Methodist Church in 1904; Second Missionary Baptist Church at 5508 Lyons in 1914; Kinloch Church of God in Christ, now Tabernacle of Faith and Deliverance, in 1914; and Our Lady of the Angels (originally Holy Angels) in the early 1920s.

Although the one-room frame Vernon School opened for black children in 1885, it closed a few months later. Black children in the Kinloch area traveled to Normandy to attend the school opened at Lucas and Hunt [electronic editor’s note: “Lucas and Hunt” is the name of a single street.] in 1886. The Vernon School, which moved to a number of locations in the area, served black children until the formation of the Kinloch School District in 1902, and its building remained in use as an all-black school in the Ferguson District until it was closed in 1967. When whites in the area split to form a separate school district in 1902, the Scudder Avenue School became Kinloch’s elementary school. A second elementary school, Dunbar, was opened in 1914. High school students attended Sumner in St. Louis City until Kinloch High School opened in 1937. In the mid-1970s, to further integrate education, both the Kinloch and the white Berkeley school districts were annexed into the Ferguson-Florissant School District. Kinloch students were also served by Holy Angels (now Our Lady of the Angels) Elementary School which opened in 1931.

In 1948 Kinloch was incorporated as Missouri’s first fourth-class, all-black city.

Much of Kinloch was destroyed by highway construction and sound mitigation for Lambert Airport to the immediate West.  If you look at the map you’ll see streets but few remaining buildings.

St. Louis had many transit suburbs (or streetcar suburbs) other than Kinloch.   Ferguson, Kirkwood and Webster Groves come to mind.  In regions like Chicago original transit suburbs like Evanston IL have remained as transit suburbs.  It is unfortunate that our region, over the last 100+ years, didn’t make the necessary  steps to retain a rail connection to these suburban municipalities.


Currently there are "21 comments" on this Article:

  1. Jimmy Z says:

    The “streetcar suburbs” of yore have simply been supplanted by the freeway suburbs of today . . . Chesterfield, Dardenne Paririe, O’Fallon, St. Peters, Wentzville, etc., etc. For the fans of rail transit, as well as the supporters of good urban design, the public’s shift to the private vehicle as their preferred method of transportation is probably “unfortunate”, but we all live in a society where we each get to choose. Blame GM, blame redlining, blame a simple (irrational?) desire for newer, bigger and/or greener, but very few people were truly “forced” to live in suburbia, with or without public transit – it’s a decision they made (and are continuing to make) willingly and enthusiastically! Do some have regrets, with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight? Probably. But the option to move back into urbanity remains, especially in and around St. Louis, where we still have many, affordable, urban options available.

  2. Boris says:

    Jimmy Z,

    We didn’t really “each get to choose.” The choices were made for us by politicians striving for a variety of goals: ideological, political, personal. Even if you can make the claim that the majority of Americans want to live in the suburbs and drive everywhere, what about the minority? America has been traditionally good at preserving the right of the minority. I don’t mean racially, but politically- such as giving states with small populations a disproportionately large amount of power in Congress. But in this case, everyone absolutely has to live the same way. It’s the worst of our 1950’s conformist, nationalist legacy.

    The aberration that is our road system is that it is fundamentally un-American: it forces us all to do the same thing, to all be the same. It leaves us with no choices; it is a monopoly.

    Furthermore, as the article implies, suburbia doesn’t have to equal driving. Non-car-dependent suburbs existed, and as the article states it’s a shame so many were destroyed. Sure, it’s nice to live in the country, but why should we be forced to endure traffic jams, car accidents, and environmental destruction? Why should we have to send our money to unfriendly foreign nations and greedy unions? Let’s support railroad suburbs and car suburbs equally and give people the ability to choose between the two.

  3. Jimmy Z says:

    Boris, we continue to have choices when it comes to choosing between public transit (a core component of any successful streetcar suburb) and freeways and suburban sprawl, the latest locally being last November, when Metro, again, failed to receive additional tax support from the voters in St. Louis County. The politicians gave the voters a choice and the majority said no! At the same time, Metrolink has multiple stations where there is abolutely no evidence of anything approaching transit-oriented (denser, more-urban) redevelopment being developed or even considered. Is the government conspiring to prevent new investment? I doubt it. I think it’s simple economics – there is no proven market for TOD in St. Louis, so private developers are opting to give their customers what they “want”, as in what they’re actually willing to buy. And I do “get it”. Building denser, sprawling less and using less energy and resources are all great goals. But without buyers, you’ll never have developers/sellers!

    The reality is that 100 years makes a big difference in how most people live their lives. Kirkwood still has a train station, and, in theory, you can take Amtrak into downtown St. Louis. The hard reality is that less than 1% of Kirkwood’s residents would ever consider doing so, and even fewer actually do! I live in the Lindenwood Park area of SW city, within a mile of the Shrewsbury Metrolink station, and 9 times out of 10 I’ll drive, even if Metrolink could work for a trip. I don’t ride enough to justify any sort of pass, so I have to pay full fare, currently $4.50 roundtrip, and figure out the schedule. Call me a neanderthal, but unless I know I’m going to have to pay more than $10 to park at my destination, I’d rather pay my $4.50 for a couple of gallons of gas and find a meter – the time savings and the convenience to operate without a schedule are simply too great an incentive. And if it’s more than just me, the numbers make even less sense – it doesn’t matter if you’re parking or driving with one or four people – the private vehicle’s cost remains essentially constant while Metro’s costs increase in a direct, linear manner.

  4. john says:

    Once path dependencies whether explained by infrastructure design or psychology are established, changing behavior becomes tougher. Only by offering better choices can we change these factors. Also ending “free parking” (which also means issuing 1099s to corporate beneficiaries) is one of the first steps. $10/day is a good base fee for parking and should be implemented via real estate property appraisals as explained before.
    – –
    The MeroLink Extension was poorly designed, too many stations too close together make longer trips too long in time. is just one example of many. In addition it was not built to improve efficiency but to serve a small minority that had strong political power. It is a very poor example of mass transit, especially one that works.

  5. Chris says:

    For some pictures of Kinloch, check out my post from a while back:

    Kinloch at St. Louis Patina

  6. Boris says:

    Jimmy Z,

    The second half of your post is a good illustration of how our choices aren’t really choices. We are driven by incentives. In the setup you described, taking the train is less convenient than driving, other factors being essentially the same (that is, price). So comparing them as equal choices is not correct. If you were deciding between train service so frequent and so close to your start and ending points that there would be no advantage to driving, or if driving was so expensive taking the train would make financial sense (despite other inconveniences), then that would truly be making a choice between two equivalent transportation systems.

    You can’t talk about the status quo and assume that people will always want the same thing. Our government manipulates us toward particular outcomes. There is no demand for TOD in St. Louis because TOD is illegal, not because it is unpopular. I would bet that TOD requirements that would sharply limit road coverage, auto access, and free parking simply clash with existing St. Louis laws and zoning regulations. Less than 1% of Kirkwood’s residents take the train to downtown because car use (appears to be) cheaper because it’s subsidized, because of various regulations promoting car use, because of unreasonable federal requirements for railroads that limit their speed, etc, etc.

    Americans don’t like public transit as it exists. That’s due to our history of neglect towards it, not because they compare two equal alternatives and choose the car.

  7. Boris says:

    One more thing about the Metro vote: the politicians didn’t offer the public a choice between transportation systems; they asked how to spend the money. But no one asked me if I want to spend my tax money on my nearest highway. Transportation spending generally occurs without a vote. The politicians put the Metro project out for a vote because it was a good way to kill it. They set a higher bar for public transit than for highways.

    I may be wrong; perhaps highway projects also come up for referendums in St. Louis County. But here in New York State, we don’t get to vote even on things on which referendums are required by the state constitution- our transportation spending largely comes from money borrowed illegally, without voter approval.

  8. Adam says:

    “Call me a neanderthal, but unless I know I’m going to have to pay more than $10 to park at my destination, I’d rather pay my $4.50 for a couple of gallons of gas and find a meter – the time savings and the convenience to operate without a schedule are simply too great an incentive.”

    this is not directed at you, JZ, but isn’t STL’s transit future worth a little inconvenience and a few extra bucks? even riding 1 or 2 times a week increases ridership and revenue and enhances public perception. IMO, it’s like making the decision to shop at wal-mart vs shopping at your local hardware store, grocer, etc. you spend a little extra and you may have to tighten the belt a little, but you’re investing in the future of your community. it just boils down to priorities.

  9. Jimmy Z says:

    Adam – I don’t take your comments personally – I’m actually trying to figure out ways to use Metro, when it makes sense, unlike too many folks in the metro area who aren’t even trying. I was just trying to illustrate the point that “a little inconvenience and a few extra bucks” is truly a matter of perception. APTA, the American Public Transportation Association, has a nifty transit calculator, http://www.apta.com/services/transit_calculator/index.cfm, that’ll crunch the numbers for you. Around here, the biggest disincentive is free parking, since most commuters aren’t going more than 20 miles (a gallon of gas) each way. In my case, I’ve never worked downtown and my work parking has always been provided at no cost to me, so my out-of-pocket costs are roughly a wash between SOV and transit. But it’s the reality that taking transit turns a 15-minute commute (by car) into a 40 minute, or longer, commute (by bus, then light rail, then bus) that goes way beyond “a little inconvenience” for me – an extra hour a day is simply too big a compromise.

    What would change this equation (for me)? The only real answer is finding a job downtown, in either St. Louis or Clayton, or at Wash. U., since those are the only areas around here where the monthly parking costs approach or exceed the cost of a monthly transit pass. And while we all complain and moan about our “congested” freeways, the reality is that they’re not nearly as bad as they are in many larger cities (NYC, LA, Bay area, DC, Chicago, Atlanta, etc.) where 2-hour commutes aren’t at all unusual for the SOV commuter, and downtown access and parking is both horrendous and expensive for us worker bees. In those cities, transit is a real alternative – it’s quicker, cheaper and less stressful – what’s not to like (and why places like Evanston remain extremely desirable)? Here, not so much. Heck, we’ve even “survived” having 40 shut down with few real impacts. Now you have to live inside 270 to have any meaningful transit options, and if you do, it’s a maximum of 15 miles from anyplace inside 270 down to the Arch, and it still takes 3 times as long by Metro!

  10. GMichaud says:

    I know this area pretty well, although I haven’t been through the area in a number of years. I am astounded at the huge area that has been regraded at the northeast corner where Hanley meets Hwy 70 (across from the Metro Station). This is airport mitigation area, mostly Ferguson I believe. What are they planning to do there? Is it another land grab in the guise of mitigation? For comparison, go north along S. Dade and you will see Mueller Organic Farm (plowed fields are evident). It is about 40 acres. This graded area must be 100’s of acres. Maybe it is where Paul McKee is going with his tax credits. (Michael Allen had a post on his blog mentioning an increase in the rate of dispersing those credits)

    JZ I think the main thing you are missing is what Boris is trying to say. The whole economic system is being run for the benefit of a few insiders. It is not capitalism, it is a game to see who can buy the best government policies.
    The collapse of the banks has revealed the corruption and self serving motives of the leadership. Unfortunately this extends to urban planning, health care, agriculture and on and on. It is not capitalism or innovation we are witnessing, it is the wholesale rape of a culture.

    By and large policies have been determined to benefit a few, just like Wall Street, it is no different. The result is an auto centric culture in the St. Louis region that does not have a competitive, alternative mass transit system.
    There is no real debate, no real discussion, nothing resembling democracy. Show public hearings are staged so that the hearing about a 500 million dollar Highway 40 project is whether to move the highway 300 feet to the North or South. The hearings are not about whether the Highway 40 project should even be built.
    Nor does the vote of the county against Metro tell you anything substantial other than the management of Metro sucks (agreed). If a meaningful, viable comprehensive plan was offered on alternate transit options in an era of scarce energy and global warming concerns, it should gain a lot of support. That is, if it is presented in a coherent manner. But with Pete Rahn of MoDot pushing concrete, and with East West Gateway pretty well doing the same, there is no real alternative offered. So instead we are screwing around with the routes of a broken mass transit system.

    This is not freedom or free markets. The American people are giving up their freedom so that a few can pocket handsomely. We see the crisis that has developed as a result. In different ways all the rest of the segments of society are ready for collapse because of poor performance and leadership.

    Thus if gas became totally unavailable or expensive, it would totally cripple the St. Louis region, New York, not so much.
    If a true pandemic hit and millions of uninsured went to hospitals, what would happen? would they let them die in the streets?
    The self serving corporate and government leadership has put America in an untenable position. But hey their buddies in the mega corporations are making millions and keeping America humming by buying yachts and expensive jewelry, so it all must be good.

  11. Jenniferwhatnot says:

    Hi JimmyZ, saw this post on my lunch break and I just wanted to respond to your Metro TOD comments. Metro as a transit authority only acquires the land needed for the light rail alignment – not any extra to develop into TOD. So if TOD comes, it comes because private developers want to bring it and purchase land adjacent to light rail stations. The North Hanley station area is a great example of genuine TOD arising via private investment. (Another is UMSL South, where a streets project is in the works.) Metro works with developers who want input and expertise as to how TOD can work to complement the transit system, but with no ownership stake in the land, that voice may be minimal in some situations.

    As someone else pointed out, another problem with TOD is that it’s illegal. TOD is just starting to get on the radar in St. Louis. Two – two out of forty or fifty or however many there are – municipalities have passed TOD ordinances, and that just happened this year. (Clayton and Brentwood, fyi.) Metro is working to put TOD on the radar in multiple ways, but Metro is only one entity and politically, serves many masters. TOD is going to have to get broad political support (i.e. there must be a demand for it) before it is provided in the region. When parking requirements are massive, urban development is less attractive. But it makes sense that development at a MetroLink station and bus transfer center ought to have lower parking requirements when considering zoning. That’s just one of the issues that will have to be addressed, but it will occur one municipality at a time because of the nature of the political infrastructure in St. Louis.

    Space here is too short to respond to that old nemesis “mismanagement” (what that means, exactly, and whether it’s fair), but as regards the Cross County alignment being “poorly designed,” you might be surprised to know that Metro has won awards for that alignment and, within the national and international community, is very highly regarded as a transit service provider. I don’t think anyone would argue that Metro has a colorful history that includes some big mistakes (and some great achievements, as well), but there is an enormous gap, in my opinion, between Metro’s activities and the public’s perception of those activities. Metro is working to address that fact and I’m looking forward to expanding on these kinds of issues very soon. In the meantime, feel free to email me if you’d like to carry on the discussion – and I’ll try to check back here too. I read this blog every day.

  12. Jenniferwhatnot says:

    Oh bother, I see that the email address is hidden. My personal email is jenniferwhatnot [and then the “at” sign] and I use Gmail. (Hope that defeats the spam bots!)

  13. Jimmy Z says:

    Jwn – You are correct – private development is happening at North Hanley, but there’s little, if any, residential included. UMSL, Barnes and Wash U continue to develop around their stations – I’m not sure if that’s TOD or coincidence or synchronicity, but it still is a good thing. My point was aimed at stations like Forest Park, Sunnen, Manchester, Wellston, Shrewsbury, most in Illinois, etc., etc., where there’s plenty of private land available and no evidence of TOD like you find in Portland, Dallas, Chicago, Denver, etc., where the bulk of it is new housing and living car-free or car-lite is much more of a possibility. And I don’t buy the argument that TOD is “illegal” – so are most of our new shopping centers/TIF’s that get excreted out in the name of more sales taxes – the zoning gets changed to fit whatever development is embraced. I also don’t blame Metro for TOD (or a lack thereof) – I blame the private development community and individual buyers – supply and demand are inextricably linked, and I don’t see much of either!

  14. Jenniferwhatnot says:

    Well, Sunnen is already situated at a large privately-owned development. Forest Park station is adjacent to a residential neighborhood with a very small commercial strip between the neighborhood and the park. Our parking lot there only has 100 spaces and we actually could use more, that lot fills up early every morning. What is the develop-able land there? That’s a real question, I’m not being rhetorical. In many places where there is abundant land available, it is because there are environmental challenges or economic reasons for the lack of development. Believe me when I say that Metro would love more TOD because it makes the system more valuable and successful.

    I agree too that a lot of things try to call themselves TOD but are really more like TAD (Transit Adjacent Development). “True” TOD needs residential, for sure. There was a plan for mixed-use (commercial & residential), pedestrian friendly development adjacent to a station very recently, but when the bottom fell out of the economy a lot of development stopped. I hope it gets rolling again when the money does as well, because I think there is a huge demand for TOD in St. Louis. One study found that property close to MetroLink stations was 30% more valuable than comparable property not located near Metro! To me that says there is indeed a demand for TOD even in St. Louis; it just takes pointing that out to our elected officials and to developers.

    Funny you mention Portland – some of the happiest years of my life were after I sold my car and moved to Portland. Now that’s a lovely transit system! But really comparing it to St. Louis at this point is impossible. Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary and twenty + years of development ahead of St. Louis’s transit system makes comparison virtually useless, though of course there are many aspects of Portland’s system that St. Louis should emulate. One reason TOD in Portland is much easier (aside from the urban density, the general political climate and generally feverish support for transit) is that all of Portland falls under the governance of one entity (Multnomah County). Unified government really does make a difference. And that really brings me back to the “illegal” argument – TIFs are on the radar, TOD is not. It’s that simple; in the same way that no one questions paying for roads, roads, and more roads but transit causes consternation; we have to make the case for TOD and for transit. Until then, it’s not on the radar and any new development is going to face higher and more hurdles than a non-TOD, that’s all. It’s not impossible, it’s just something that adds to the cost.

  15. john says:

    Portland works, StL doesn’t because of mismanagement as Jennifer admits. MetroLink has obviously been transformed into MetroStink. As a user of mass transit on a daily basis for over 25 years in other cities, StLMetro is a dismal failure.

  16. john says:

    Effective and honest advertising about the potential benefits of well designed, workable and wise mass transit (not to be found in the Lou) can work as proven:

  17. Jimmy Z says:

    What’s happening in other cities are transit agencies working with private developers to increase density at their stations. For instance, at the Forest Park station, a 100-space surface parking lot is certainly not the highest and best use. Work with a developer and trade the land for structured parking with 200-300 spaces plus ground-floor retail and mid-rise residential. Both the Shrewsbury and the North Hanley stations, to name only two, offer similar, larger opportunities. Short term, surface parking lots are good land-banking opportunities, but longer term they need to be replaced by TOD, and Metro will certainly need to be an active partner in any of these efforts.

    As for “Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary and twenty + years of development ahead of St. Louis’s transit system”, UGB, yes; twenty + years, no, not so much – Portland’s first line opened in 1986, St. Louis’ opened in 1993 – that’s only a 7-year difference. But you are correct that there is a huge difference in attitudes, and until the St. louis region embraces (as opposed to fearing) public transit, including funding a viable operation, TOD will likely remain a vision for the true believers . . .

  18. john says:

    Attitudes will only change when the costs of operating private motorized vehicles are no longer subsidized. Typically this means toll roads, mileage taxes, higher gas taxes, free parking ended via higher real estate taxes, etc. In addition, law enforcement must be trained to support alternatives such as cycling by educating-enforcing laws to insure that Share-the-Roads is operative and effective. However, current leadership and local attitudes do not favor change as long as the status quo is highly subsidized.
    – –
    But attitudes and MetroLink need to change also. Currently MetroLink is creating a small parking lot at the Galleria station even though a large lot and garage was constructed at Hanley-Eager. To create the lot, MetroLink tore out the green grass and destroyed all the trees. MetroLink is creating an ugly, unworkable, anti-pedestrian area in order to favor cars over people.

  19. Jenniferwhatnot says:

    John, I don’t think Metro stinks at all; you obviously didn’t read what I wrote. I agree Jimmy Z that a surface parking lot is not the highest and best use of any transit-adjacent property. That’s a residential area, though, and how to add parking there without building a big ugly parking garage? If you want ground-floor retail, plus parking, plus residential, you’re talking about a 4-5 story underground parking garage and a big tall building on the edge of a residential neighborhood and adjacent to Forest Park. You think the residents would go for that, or anyone can afford to build there? Believe me when I say that Metro is interested in encouraging TOD but it’s a lot harder than to just say “This site needs X” and it happens. That 100-space parking lot is such a small footprint that any development there would be really tall, or would require the acquisition of land from adjacent property owners.

    As for the Galleria, many of the MetroLink lots fill up very quickly. If you want people to ride the trains, you have to provide parking at the stations. That’s just the reality even though it would be lovely if everyone could bike or ride the bus to the light rail. Not to say that parking lots can’t be intelligently done and with less impact to the natural world, but all of that costs money which is a luxury this region’s transit system may not have.

  20. Jenniferwhatnot says:

    I should be clear re: my last comment – that’s not to say that Metro doesn’t consider environmental impact etc. in design. I’m just saying that a lot of lovely things could always be done if you have endless money to spend.

  21. john says:

    It cost money to destroy the environment. Tree cutting and removal is not FREE. There is no need for a small parking lot at 170 and the Galleria Parkway or a large one (Jennifer “you’re talking about a 4-5 story underground parking”) in an area with surplus parking. Bottom line, neighbors who once supported Metro now know that it can’t be trusted, neither is it beneficial as an alternative to auto travel and therefore the public will vote against any more funding … that in itself is proof of mismanagement. Turning off fans of mass transit is not the route to success no matter how much you try to defend it. It has become MetroStink in so many ways.
    – –
    Sorry you don’t get it. Portland works where St Louis fails, no debate. To understand more, especially how difficult the process has become, suggest you check out Goodspeed’s explanations: http://www.planetizen.com/node/38721


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