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Downtown & Downtown West Neighborhoods Should Be Merged Into One

August 18, 2015 Crime, Downtown, Featured, Neighborhoods, Politics/Policy 13 Comments

Technically Downtown, a city neighborhood, is only East of Tucker Blvd (12th). So much of what we think of as downtown is considered Downtown West.

Map of Downtown West Neighborhood bounded by Chouteau, Jefferson, Cole, & Tucker; click image to view on city website
Map of Downtown West Neighborhood bounded by Chouteau, Jefferson, Cole, & Tucker; click image to view on city website

All of the following are located not in Downtown, but in Downtown West:

  • Police Headquarters (old & new)
  • City Hall
  • Peabody Opera House
  • Scottrade Center
  • Main U.S. Post Office
  • Soliders Memorial (WWI)
  • Central Library
  • City Museum
  • Campbell House
  • Downtown YMCA
  • Union Station
  • Schlafly’s Tap Room
  • Civic Center MetroLink/MetroBus
  • Transportation Center (Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus)

But I don’t want news reporters outside police HQ to say “Reporting from Downtown West”, I think we should combine the two.

From a 1989 Post-Dispatch article:

SECTIONS OF St. Louis have an identity crisis, says Mayor Vincent C. SchoemehlJr. ”There’s this impression that north St. Louis is some monolithic area that’s unfit to live in,” Schoemehl said. ”Frankly, there’re some very good neighborhoods in north St. Louis, as good as any around. But when you hear about a murder or a rape or some other crime occurring in north St. Louis, all the neighborhoods in north St. Louis become tarred with the same brush.” The identity crisis has sparked a campaign, beginning this week, that stresses neighborhoods – 74 to be exact. No longer will there just be the North Side, the South Side, the Central West End or downtown. ”This is one of our attempts to market the neighborhoods of the city,” said Clara Kinner, director of communications for the city’s Economic Development Corp. ”People should understand that there are several different neighborhoods with several different personalities and attributes,” she said. Many, but not all, of the new neighborhood boundaries will coincide with the boundaries set by existing neighborhood associations, Kinner said. (P4, October 15, 1989)

So when the city first created the neighborhood map it had 74 neighborhoods, but currently it is 79:

There are 79 different neighborhoods, each with its own distinctive style and characteristics. Many of these neighborhoods have very active community organizations and associations. Some are on the rebound, while others have remained stable for decades, and still others are striving for renewal. A variety of sources for information about neighborhoods exist, both on and off this website. None of these sources include everything there is to know about a neighborhood, but by putting together information from each of these sources, one may get a sense of the incredible variety of lifestyles available in the diverse neighborhoods of the City of St. Louis. (St. Louis Neighborhoods)

Now you might be wondering if the Downtown West neighborhood association would object to being consolidated with Downtown’s NA. Well, there has never been a separate Downtown West neighborhood association. The Downtown Neighborhood Association boundaries had included all of Downtown and about half of Downtown West, but last month their bylaws were amended to expand their boundaries to match both.

The Downtown Community Improvement District boundaries also includes much of Downtown West. Just because people in 1989 wanted to better identify where murders happened doesn’t mean we can’t alter the map 26 years later. It’s time to reduce the 79 neighborhoods to 78!

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    Boundary lines are arbitrary lines on a piece of paper. People can claim to be in (or from) an area even if they’re just close by (or not even close). People who live in Affton or St. Charles, many times, say they’re from “St. Louis”, just because it’s easier than explaining where wherever is. The same goes for Downtown West (or Botanial Heights) – the wonks and the nerds need that precision and know where the boundary lines fall, exactly, but most people in the region (and beyond) could care less about the distinction between Soulard and Benton Park, much less Downtown and Downtown West . . .

     
    • In this case even wonks & map nerds call it downtown — it serves zero purpose. The only reason to keep two separate names is to say “that’s how it’s always been” …since 1989.

      When I loved to Old North St. Louis in 1991 the neighborhood was still officially listed as Murphy-Blair, but eventually the city’s map caught up with how it was actually known.

      Same situation here.

       
  2. Dave Brown says:

    I know a lot of people who think SLU and WashU are “downtown”. So it really doesn’t matter what you call them.

     
    • True, the bigger point is they should be considered one — not two — neighborhoods.

       
    • KevinB says:

      Local news will basically report any crime/incident/event inside Cass, 44, and Grand Ave as “downtown St. Louis,” If those that are supposed to actually be factually accurate don’t worry about it then why, I guess, should anyone else?!

      Personally, I like having distinguishing neighborhood boundaries, even when (especially when) there’s no discerning difference as you cross from one to the other. Then again, I run a Chamber of Commerce, so it’s kind of a big part of my job! You say Downtown West doesn’t have a merchants association right now, Steve? Hmmm…

       
  3. Alex Ihnen says:

    I’m campaigning for Peabody-Darst-Webbe to become Lafayette Square East, or just Lafayette Square, Kosciusko to join Soulard, and Covenant Blu Grand Center to become just Grand Center.

     
    • Yes, lots of examples where it makes sense to revisit the names & boundaries, adjusting where it makes sense. We shouldn’t stay stuck in 1989 just because some don’t like change.

       
  4. markgroth says:

    These arbitrary boundaries do end up meaning something when you have neighborhood associations that operate within those boundaries. You have a whole set of separate historic codes, bylaws, fundraising efforts, etc for adjacent neighborhoods. I think when the city re-configures the wards to consolidate and drop the # of alderman that would be the perfect time to join neighborhoods. I arrived at 29 total neighborhoods back in 2010: http://www.stlouiscitytalk.com/2010/09/st-louis-city-of-neighborhoods.html

     
  5. Terence D says:

    Whats the argument for doing this? I’m only seeing “I don’t want news reporters outside police HQ to say ‘Reporting from Downtown West'”. …Maybe I missed something?

     
    • Everyone perceives downtown as the combination of the two — why divided a whole into two parts down Tucker?

       
    • Either we should recognize Doebtown Weat as a separate neighborhood by using the name when applicable OR acknowledge it doesn’t need to be separate.

       
      • JZ71 says:

        There are times when bigger-and-fewer is a good thing, and there are times when smaller-and-more is a good thing. The same arguments, for and against, can be made about blocks, wards, census tracts, parishes, the city limit, suburban cities, counties, states, whatever. Changing names, to something sexier, may feel good, but it would be just as / more confusing to most people outside (and many inside) the neighborhood. These “official”, arbitrary, neighborhood boundaries primarily just serve a necessary governmental and statistical purpose*. In reality, for most people, “neighborhoods” usually have fuzzy, and sometimes, very flexible boundaries / limits, NOT arbitrary lines on paper. And, yes, to most people, a good part of “Downtown West” is viewed as part of “Downtown”. But that’s not a big reason to change anything. Parts of Lindenwood Park “should” be included in St. Louis Hills, parts of Benton Park “should” be in Soulard, do we need to differentiate all the compass points in the Tower Grove area? The real issue is if we start, where do we stop? Should we invest (waste?) scarce government resources on an issue that will do very little, if anything, to actually make the city a better place to live? Or focus on some real problems, like crime, racism and schools?

        *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neighborhoods_of_St._Louis

         

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