This is my ninth look at St. Louis’ Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on Martin Luther King Day. As before, the street doesn’t do the man justice. For the previous eight years I started downtown, west to the city limits and returned. That was done by car or motor scooter, but I longer have a car. Recently returning to St. Louis in a rented car I had the foresight to exit I-44 at Jamison, making my way over to McCausland and Skinker to the west end of MLK Dr.
The following are sixteen images from my drive east to downtown.
ABOVE: Commercial district continues west off the city limits line
ABOVE: Just inside the city limits is the old Wellston Loop streetcar building
ABOVE: Across the street the once bustling district is largely vacsant
ABOVE: The former JC Penny store continues to deteriorate
ABOVE: But businesses do exist today, still serving the needs of area residents
ABOVE: Just east of Goodfellow is one of my personal favorites
ABOVE: Housing development Arlington Grove is now open — the residential units are fully occupied. More on this tomorrow.
ABOVE: Surprised to see this building still standing, even more surprised to see the front being tuck pointed.
ABOVE: Two of the four corners of Union & MLK have former gas stations, a third is currently a gas station.
ABOVE: A new tenant is in the retail space at MLK & Kingshighway, but it wasn’t even built with a connection to the public sidewalk just a couple of feet away
ABOVE: Boards over former windows is a too common sight, auto-related businesses dominate the area east of Kingshighway
ABOVE: Across from the renovated buildings of Dick Gregory Place is a nice looking restaurant, Arkansas Fried Chicken. Click image for Yelp listing
ABOVE: The corner of one building is collapsing
ABOVE: Another favorite building waiting for a new use.
ABOVE: Nearby is yet another favorite, in very original condition.
ABOVE: Skipping ahead from Vandeventer to Tucker we have the ongoing project to fill in the former railroad tunnel.
A few bright spots exist along this 5.7 mile stretch (map), but a more comprehensive approach is needed to address the myriad of problems that exist. The piecemeal approach isn’t going to do much beyond the immediate areas that have seen reinvestment.
We must find ways to get sources of good employment in the area again. It’s easy for you tell tell me the reasons why reality is that won’t happen, why jobs left and won’t return. I know why. I want to know ideas for bringing new jobs in the future.
Tomorrow I’ll take a closer look at the Arlington Heights Apartments.
– Steve Patterson