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St. Louis’ Riverfront Reopening Next Week

We’re all invited to a riverfront picnic next week, Thursday June 2nd.  No blanket needed — a 2,016 foot-long table will be set up, chairs provided.

From the official press release:

Great Rivers Greenway, the City of St. Louis, CityArchRiver Foundation and other partners invite residents from across the region to join them in celebrating the transformation of the St. Louis riverfront on Thursday, June 2. The organizations will be hosting a “Picnic on the Riverfront” event from 5:00 to 8:45 p.m., which will feature St. Louis’ largest-ever community picnic – complete with a 2,016-foot-long table with chairs – to commemorate the opening of the new riverfront beneath the Gateway Arch.

The official ribbon cutting on June 2 will begin at 5 p.m. on the overlook stage along Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard, with remarks from dignitaries and partners. Afterward, attendees can explore the nearby Mississippi Greenway, enjoy local music and educational activities for kids and purchase dinner from food trucks and other vendors. People are also welcome to bring their own picnic meal. An interfaith blessing will kick off dinner at 6:15 p.m., followed by an aerial photo of all the picnickers. The event will end with a brief fireworks display at 8:30 p.m.

“This new front door for our region celebrates the energy, adventure and awe of the mighty Mississippi and our iconic Gateway Arch,” said Susan Trautman, Executive Director of Great Rivers Greenway, the regional parks and trails district and lead agency on the project. “We invite people to bring their friends, family and neighbors from all parts of the region to celebrate.”

The renovation of the 1.5-mile stretch of riverfront includes the recently rebuilt Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard and extension of the Mississippi Greenway from the Biddle Street Trailhead south to Chouteau Avenue, with protected walking and biking paths. The entire riverfront was elevated an average of almost two feet to limit flooding, returning more days of the year back to the community for walking, riding bikes, sightseeing and special events. While the historic elements were preserved, such as the cobblestones lining the levee; new amenities such as benches, bike racks, lights, power outlets and a street-level stage will make the space more inviting for events and programs. The lineup for this summer and fall includes bike rides, walk/run events, the St. Louis Brewers Guild Heritage Festival, a free concert series with The Sheldon, swap meets and more.

Earlier this month, on May 8th, my husband and I decided to check on the progress from the Eads Bridge. First though, a photo from September 2015:

Work continues on the North end of Lenore K. Sullivan -- raising it was delayed by flooding. Click image to see September 2015 post with more images
Work continues on the North end of Lenore K. Sullivan — raising it was delayed by flooding. Click image to see September 2015 post with more images
Looking more complete on May 8, 2016
Looking more complete on May 8, 2016
Looking West from further out
Looking West from further out
Looking down river
Looking down river
Moving closer to downtown
Moving closer to downtown
Further West
Further West
Down on Lenore K Sullivan looking where Washington Ave used to be
Down on Lenore K Sullivan looking where Washington Ave used to be
Lenore K Sullivan Blvd is now higher
Lenore K Sullivan Blvd is now higher
Looking North from Eads Bridge, Laclede's Landing area on the left beyond the elevated tracks
Looking North from Eads Bridge, Laclede’s Landing area on the left beyond the elevated tracks
Further North, ML King Bridge in background
Further North, ML King Bridge in background
Looking back south toward the Eads Bridge
Looking back south toward the Eads Bridge
Now at the center, some steps will be hidden by the new elevation of Lenore K Sullivan Blvd
Now at the center, some steps will be hidden by the new elevation of Lenore K Sullivan Blvd
Still under constructions are four ramps from the top down to bottom
Still under constructions are four ramps from the top down to bottom
These ramp will be great for those of us in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, etc
These ramps will be great for those of us in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, etc
There will also be ramps down to the cobblestones
There will also be ramps down to the cobblestones
It appears a smooth concrete sidewalk will run along the base pf the wall next to the rough cobblestones
It appears a smooth concrete sidewalk will run along the base pf the wall next to the rough cobblestones
Looking South from the bike/job path
Looking South from the bike/job path
One of the smartest ideas is concrete bases for light fixtures, these can go under flood waters without messing up wiring
One of the smartest ideas is concrete bases for light fixtures, these can go under flood waters without messing up wiring

So bring food, buy from food trucks, or just show up on June 2nd. I’m looking forward to exploring from end to end. Access is best from Chouteau or Laclede’s Landing Blvd (under the King Bridge).

For more event information see:

I’ll do a complete review after completion.

— Steve Patterson

 

Trump Is Less Than A Half Mile Away Today, Last Week I Took Public Transit 20+ Miles To Hear Bernie Sanders

Before this year, and despite being an active voter for 30+ years, I’d never seen a presidential candidate in person. At noon today Republican frontrunner Donald Trump will be speaking at the Peabody Opera House — less than half a mile away from my downtown loft. I won’t go hear him speak — not worth minimal effort.

A week ago, however, I traveled 20+ miles to hear Sen. Bernie Sanders at SIUE’s Vadalabene Center. As I indicated on February 2nd, I already voted for Bernie Sanders via absentee ballot. Today’s post is mostly about my journey there and back via public transit.

You’re probably thinking it took forever, the answer is no & yes.  Getting there was as fast as driving, coming back took three times as long.

Each weekday morning the Madison County Transit 16X Edwardsville-Glen Carbon Express makes two pickups from St. Louis, it makes nine drop offs. At 7:02am I caught the first 16x at 6th & Washington Ave.  Thirty-six minutes later I was on the SIUE campus.

Driving from my loft would’ve required my husband to use our Enterprise CarShare membership so I could use our car, it would’ve taken 36-41 minutes for me to drive there. With the time it would’ve taken me to walk from parking to the line using my wheelchair on public transit saved me time — and money.

At 7:04am I was on the 16x on WB Washington Ave between Broadway & 6th. There were 5-6 people on the bus -- they boarded at Jefferson & Pine
At 7:04am I was on the 16x on WB Washington Ave between Broadway & 6th. There were 5-6 people on the bus — they boarded at Jefferson & Pine
At 7:20am we made our first stop, at a Park & Ride lot next to the Gateway Center in Collinsville IL
At 7:20am we made our first stop, at a Park & Ride lot next to the Gateway Center in Collinsville IL
At 7:28am we stopped at a park & ride lot in Glen Carbon IL. The next stop was Beck Hall at SIUE
At 7:28am we stopped at a park & ride lot in Glen Carbon IL. The next stop was Beck Hall at SIUE

Upon arrival at the campus I didn’t stop to photograph — I wanted to get to get in lime at the Vadalabene Center. As I was making my way to the back of the line a volunteer stopped me and said I could follow her to the disabled entrance.

At 7:48am I was almost inside, myself and others who are disabled were able to bypass the long line. Had I driven the walk from the parking lot to the door would've been exhausting.
At 7:48am I was almost inside, myself and others who are disabled were able to bypass the long line. Had I driven the walk from the parking lot to the door would’ve been exhausting.
I was inside just before 8am. Mr. Sanders began speaking around 10:30am. I could not have been any closer to the stage!
I was inside just before 8am. Mr. Sanders began speaking around 10:30am. I could not have been any closer to the stage!
I was so close I was the first person to shake his hand after he came off the stage, I took this image just after -- 11:29am
I was so close I was the first person to shake his hand after he came off the stage, I took this image just after — 11:29am
15 minutes later I was leaving the Vadalabene Center, heading for Beck Hall
15 minutes later I was leaving the Vadalabene Center, heading for Beck Hall

I already knew the next express bus to St. Louis wasn’t for another 4 hours — I’d need to take two buses and a train to get home.

A few Madison County Transit buses came by before the next bus I needed,
A few Madison County Transit buses came by before the next bus I needed,

I had two options:

  1. #19 to Collinsville > #18 to Emerson Park > MetroLink to St. Louis
  2. #4 to Granite City > #5 to Emerson Park > MetroLink to St. Louis

Both were within minutes of each other — just shy of two hours total. Based upon when I arrived, the #2 option via Granite City would be next. While waiting I began talking to someone else who attended the event, we talked much of the way until I got off the train downtown. Turns out he’s married to a woman I’ve known for at least a decade, they live in Webster Groves!

It was worth all the trouble to hear & meet Bernie Sanders!  Missouri & Illinois both hold primaries on Tuesday, along with Ohio, Florida, and North Carolina — please vote.

— Steve Patterson

 

Wellston Loop Family Reunion & Exhibit Saturday November 21, 2015

November 20, 2015 Events/Meetings, Featured, MLK Jr. Drive, North City Comments Off on Wellston Loop Family Reunion & Exhibit Saturday November 21, 2015

An event ia taking place tomorrow afternoon in a once-thriving commercial district: The Wellston Loop.

“Wellston Loop Family Reunion & Exhibit” will take place on Saturday, November 21 from 1 to 3pm. A sidewalk exhibition of recent photographs and historic documents will highlight the community. The event will offer free food, drink, music and videos. The primary venue will be the former J.C. Penney Department Store (on the National Register of Historic Places) at 5930 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63112.

We’re inviting members of the surrounding community (past or present) who would like to share stories, photographs or videos of the neighborhood (Wellston Loop, Hamilton Heights and Wells/Goodfellow) from any era to submit them for inclusion and display.

Another significant building in the former shopping district is the Wellston streetcar transfer station from 1909. It is also on the National Register of Historic Places. This building has recently been awarded funding for a complete historic restoration scheduled to begin December 2015. It is the only building of its kind (streetcar station building) left standing in St. Louis.

See the Facebook event Wellston Loop Family Reunion & Exhibit for more detail.

July 1963 image of The Wellston Loop from page 59 of the district nomination to the National Register, click to view
July 1963 image of The Wellston Loop from page 59 of the district nomination to the National Register, click to view
Just inside the city limits is the old Wellston Loop streetcar building, 2013 image
Just inside the city limits is the old Wellston Loop streetcar building, 2013 image
The main location Saturday will be In front of the former JC Penny store at 5930 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, click for map
The main location Saturday will be In front of the former JC Penny store at 5930 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, click image for map. 2013 photo

For further reading. see Reflections: In Wellston, a ‘family reunion’ explores faded riches, realities – and possibilities.

— Steve Patterson

 

Nearly Half of Readers Disappointed With The Amount of CityArchRiver Work Completed to Date, More 50th Anniversary Events Today

Fifty years ago today the final section of the Arch was lowered into place. Today’s date was a big deal to organizers of the CityArchRiver design competition and for a long time they said all the work to actually connect the Arch grounds to the city would be done. Many of us were highly skeptical of these claims, but I didn’t want to burst their civic bubble.

Luther Ely Smith Square is finished. He's the guy that helped get 40 city blocks of the original city razed.
Luther Ely Smith Square is finished. He’s the guy that helped get 40 city blocks of the original city razed. Click image to open his Wikipedia entry

Here are the results from the Sunday Poll:

Q: Please rate the amount of CityArchRiver work completed to date

  1. Somewhat dissatisfied 11 [36.67%]
  2. Somewhat satisfied 6 [20%]
  3. Neutral 4 [13.33%]
  4. Very satisfied 3 [10%]
  5. Very dissatisfied 3 [10%]
  6. Unsure/No Answer 3 [10%]

Depending upon my mood I’m either neutral or somewhat satisfied.

Impressive fireworks show Saturday night to conclude Arch 50 Fest
Impressive fireworks show Saturday night to conclude Arch 50 Fest

Of course, I had low expectations.

There are numerous events today:

Recognition Ceremony and Birthday Party – Wednesday, October 28, 11 am

At 11 am—the moment when the final piece of the Gateway Arch was put into place 50 years ago—National Park Service leadership, along with local officials and partner dignitaries, will lead a special recognition ceremony commemorating the completion of the Arch on the Fourth Street side of the Old Courthouse.

Free Cupcakes! 

From 11:30am – 1:30pm, Sarah’s Cake Stop & Destination Desserts cupcake trucks will distribute free 50th anniversary-themed cupcakes to the first 1,000 visitors. The trucks will be located on 4th street on the east side of the Old Courthouse (11 North 4th Street). 

$1 Journey to the Top Tram Rides – October 28, all day

For one day only, Journey to the Top tram ride tickets will be sold at the original price of $1. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Old Courthouse, online at http://ticketsforthearch.com or by calling 877-982-1410.

Visitors to the top will receive:

  • A “Top of the Arch” lapel button modeled after one that was originally distributed when the trams opened in 1967.
  • An “I Went to the Top” certificate, similar to the certificate handed out to riders in the 1960s.

Limited-edition 50th Anniversary Merchandise

Custom-designed 50th anniversary items—including hats, shirts, jackets, mugs, coasters, and more—are available for purchase in the Museum Store located under the Gateway Arch, the Old Courthouse Gift Shop, and online at www.shop.jnpa.com.

Partners and sponsors of these events include the National Park Service, Bi-State Development , Jefferson National Parks Association, City of St. Louis, and the Missouri History Museum.

 

— Steve Patterson

 

Tomorrow: Arch 50 Fest

October 23, 2015 Downtown, Events/Meetings, Featured Comments Off on Tomorrow: Arch 50 Fest

An event tomorrow, Saturday October 24th, will kick-off celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the final piece of the Arch being lowered into place.

Click image for website
Click image for website

Here’s the summary:

ARCH 50 FEST | SATURDAY, OCTOBER 24, 10:30 AM – 8:30 PM 
To celebrate the golden birthday of the Gateway Arch, an all-day community celebration will take place on Saturday, October 24, in nearby Kiener Plaza. 

The St. Louis community and all visitors are invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Arch during a day-long celebration at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis. The event will include food and drink vendors, children’s activities, and live music throughout the day. The celebration will culminate with a world-class fireworks display showcasing the Arch. This event is sponsored and funded by the CityArchRiver Foundation and Great Rivers Greenway and entry is free.

We hope you’ll join us in celebrating the golden anniversary of our city’s iconic landmark! 

Click the image above or here to see more information.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

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