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Time To Rethink Aloe Plaza

May 11, 2023 Downtown, Featured, MLS Stadium, Parks, Plazas Comments Off on Time To Rethink Aloe Plaza

Eighty-three years ago today a new urban plaza was opened across Market Street from Union Station. The decennial census taken the previous month would later show the city’s population had declined slightly.

Carl Milles’ ‘Meeting of the Waters’ is the focal point of Aloe Plaza. 2011

St. Louisans of the 1930s removed the buildings, businesses, and activity from across Union Station. It was what people first saw upon arrival, they wanted beauty instead of what they viewed as clutter and illicit activity. Passive over bustling. They were successful…too successful.

Looking west across Aloe Plaza, from 18th Street in 2013

For a good 70 years the west end of Aloe Plaza is what motorists saw as they exited the highway, ending up at 20th & Chestnut. Now with CITYPARK, our new MLS stadium replacing the on/off ramps, the situation west of Aloe Plaza is entirely different.

Looking east from 20th Street atAloe Plaza, just as STL CITY SC began hosting the Portland Timbers on April 29 2023.

20th Street is closed for a block party before matches, porta-potties are lined up nearby. To the west is the start of the Brickline Greenway, a 2-way cycle track plus a wide pedestrian path. This needs to continue east and the two blocks of Aloe Plaza are next.

The space has some very large old trees. I’m not an arborist so I can’t say they’re worth keeping, or not. The ’Meeting of the Waters’ fountain by Carl Milles is certainly sacred, though in desperate need of a new basin.

Meeting of the Waters with CITYPARK stadium in the background, just as STL CITY SC began hosting the Portland Timbers on April 29 2023.

I’d love to see something happen (charrette, competition, etc) to gather ideas on how to turn this passive two-block long public park into an exciting new public space that includes the fountain in the same or different place. Does the fountain need to be centered on Union Station? Must it be parallel to Market Street? Among many questions we should ask ourselves.

One thing I see as a must-have amenity is a public restroom. The entire region needs these where we expect tourists, people cycling/walking, and such. Not inside a nearby business — a highly visible kiosk structure that opens directly to the sidewalk. These can be self-cleaning, the ones I used in San Francisco last fall were wonderful.

I can also imagine a structure(s) for food, beverage, events, and such.

I’m not sure about the name Aloe Plaza. It made sense in 1940 as the former president of the board of aldermen, Louis B. Aloe, had died just over a decade before. Aloe was instrumental in a 1923 bond issue — a century ago. Aloe, the bond issue, the businesses displaced, etc should all be represented in the new space. I’m just not sure the name for the last 83 years should carry forward.

The entire two block park bounded by Market, 18th, Chestnut, and 20th needs to be rethought, reimagined for the 21st century.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.


Racially Restrictive Covenants Ruled Unenforceable 75 Years Ago Today

May 3, 2023 Featured, History/Preservation, North City Comments Off on Racially Restrictive Covenants Ruled Unenforceable 75 Years Ago Today

At the beginning of the 20th century racism was thriving, though it took different forms in different places. The south had harsh ”Jim Crow” laws, lynchings, etc. Cities like St. Louis were less overt, but were still very racially segregated.

In 1916, St. Louisans voted on a “reform” ordinance that would prevent anyone from buying a home in a neighborhood more than 75 percent occupied by another race. Civic leaders opposed the initiative, but it passed with a two-thirds majority and became the first referendum in the nation to impose racial segregation on housing. After a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Buchanan v. Warley, made the ordinance illegal the following year, some St. Louisans reverted to racial covenants, asking every family on a block or in a subdivision to sign a legal document promising to never sell to an African-American. Not until 1948 were such covenants made illegal, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Shelley v. Kraemer, a case originating in St. Louis.

St. Louis Magazine
This house at 4600 Labadie was at the center of the case Shelley v Kraemer

Here’s a summary of the two cases the U.S. Supreme Court consolidated, the namesake is from St. Louis.

In 1945, an African-American family by the name of Shelley purchased a house in St. Louis, Missouri. At the time of purchase, they were unaware that a restrictive covenant had been in place on the property since 1911. The restrictive covenant prevented “people of the Negro or Mongolian Race” from occupying the property. Louis Kraemer, who lived ten blocks away, sued to prevent the Shelleys from gaining possession of the property. The Supreme Court of Missouri held that the covenant was enforceable against the purchasers because the covenant was a purely private agreement between its original parties. As such, it “ran with the land” and was enforceable against subsequent owners. Moreover, since it ran in favor of an estate rather than merely a person, it could be enforced against a third party. A similar scenario occurred in the companion case McGhee v. Sipes from Detroit, Michigan, where the McGhees purchased property that was subject to a similar restrictive covenant. In that case, the Supreme Court of Michigan also held the covenants enforceable.


Interesting the state courts in both Missouri & Michigan found the covenants enforceable. The local civil court ruled against the neighbors…on a technically. Not enough property owners had signed on to enact it.

On October 9, 1945, respondents, as owners of other property subject to the terms of the restrictive covenant, brought suit in the Circuit Court of the city of St. Louis praying that petitioners Shelley be restrained from taking possession of the property and that judgment be entered divesting title out of petitioners Shelley and revesting title in the immediate grantor or in such other person as the court should direct. The trial court denied the requested relief on the ground that the restrictive agreement, upon which respondents based their action, had never become final and complete because it was the intention of the parties to that agreement that it was not to become effective until signed by all property owners in the district, and signatures of all the owners had never been obtained.


With this 1948 decision many whites decided to leave north city for north county.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.


St. Louis Roots: Andy Cohen

May 2, 2023 Events/Meetings, Featured, History/Preservation, North City Comments Off on St. Louis Roots: Andy Cohen

This Friday, May 5th 2023, St. Louis native Andy Cohen will get a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame:

The late-night TV talk show host and executive producer will be inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame at 5 p.m. Friday, May 5. A live ragtime band will begin performing at 4:30 p.m. 

The ceremony is free to the public and will take place in front of the Moonrise Hotel at 6177 Delmar in The Loop.

Cohen was born and raised in St. Louis and graduated from Clayton High School in 1986. He is best known as the host and executive producer of Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.” He was also an executive producer for “The Real Housewives” franchise and hosted numerous specials. 


Cohen’s roots in St. Louis go back a very long time, as detailed in January 2021 on PBS’ program Finding Your Roots (Against all Odds, S7E2). NPR’s Nina Totenburg was the other guest.

If you missed this episode, or want to watch it again, it will be shown again tonight on Finding Your Roots, 9.1 7pm CST in St. Louis.

In the above clip Cohen reads about a paternal great great grandfather, Russian peddler Simon Kruvant, injured in a horse/carriage accident in 1889 at South Broadway & Koeln Avenue. We also learned Kruvant and his wife lived at 1122 N. 7th Street.

1122 North 7th Street was a one story non-residential building, seen here in a 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance map. Either the newspaper article gave the wrong address, or this immigrant couple were living in a commercial space.

Given that Kruvant was a peddler a commercial space with room for goods, cart, and horse makes sense. This wasn’t in the Post-Dispatch archives so it must’ve been another newspaper.

The red arrow center toward the bottom shows where 1122 N 7th was. Pink is masonry, yellow is wood frame. Neighbors include industrial, tenements, and Father Dempsey’s Men’s Hotel.

To see this map page in detail click here.

Today 1122 North 7th Street is part numerous vacant blocks just north of the dome.

This area was known as Near North for a long time, but officially it is part of Columbus Square. Before Neighborhoods Gardens and Cochran Gardens were built the neighborhood contained the highest concentration of tenements in the city.

This neighborhood welcomed the poorest immigrants, including: Irish, Jewish, Italian, and blacks escaping the Jim Crow south.

See Andy Cohen tonight on Finding Your Roots and receiving his star Friday in front of the Moonrise Hotel.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.


April 2023 Election Results Sets New 14-Member Board of Aldermen

April 5, 2023 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on April 2023 Election Results Sets New 14-Member Board of Aldermen

St. Louis voters have selected their candidates for our new 14 wards, cut in half from the 28 wards for more than a century.

St. Louis City Hall

Of the 28 the following aldermen didn’t run this year:

  • Dwinderlin Evans (4th ward)
  • Christine Ingrassia (6th ward)
  • Jack Coatar (7th ward)
  • Annie Rice (8th ward)
  • Dan Guenter (9th ward)
  • James Lappe (11th ward)
  • Bill Stephens (12th ward)
  • Carol Howard (14th ward)
  • Jesse Todd (18th ward)
  • Marlene Davis (19th ward)

The following aldermen ran, but were defeated in the March primary:

  • Michael J. Gras was the 28th ward alderman, coming in a very close 3rd in a 3-way primary in the new 9th ward.
  • Lisa Middlebrook was the 2nd ward alderman, but was defeated in a 3-way race against two other existing aldermen in the new 13th ward.
  • Brandon Bosley (3rd ward) and James Page (5th ward) were defeated in a 4-way primary race in the new 14th ward.

The following aldermen were defeated in Tuesday’s general election:

  • Joe Vaccaro, longtime conservative alderman in the 23rd ward, was defeated by 24th ward alderman Bret Narayan in the new 4th ward.
  • Tina Pihl was 17th ward alderman, losing to Michael Browning in the new 9th ward.
  • In the new 13th ward Norma Walker, recently elected to fill the 22nd ward seat, was defeated by 27th ward alderman Pamela Boyd.

Two former aldermen lost in their attempts to return to the board: Ken Ortmann & Jennifer Florida.

State Rep Rasheen Aldridge thankfully defeated Hubbard dynasty candidate Ebony Washington. Aldridge will resign as state rep to be sworn in as 14th ward alderman. A special election will be held to fill the state rep seat — hopefully a Hubbard won’t be elected.

The new 14-member board of aldermen will be:

  • 1) Anne Schweitzer* (13th)
  • 2) Thomas Oldenburg* (16th)
  • 3) Shane Cohn* (25th)
  • 4) Bret Narayan* (24th)
  • 5) Joseph Vollmer* (10th)
  • 6) Daniela Velazquez
  • 7) Alisha Sonnier
  • 8) Cara Spencer* (20th)
  • 9) Michael Browning
  • 10) Shameem Hubbard* (26th)
  • 11) Laura Keys* (21st)
  • 12) Sharon Tyus* (1st)
  • 13) Pamela Boyd* (27th)
  • 14) Rasheen Aldridge

So ten of the fourteen aldermen were reelected (marked with *, followed by their pre-2023 ward number), with only four being entirely new to the board. With Aldridge, the board will now have two openly LGBTQ members, joining Cohn.

Fifty percent are people of color (PoC), and one more than half are women. When you include the board president, comptroller, and mayor this is the first time in the 259-year history of the city that women and people of color will be in charge — long overdue!

I believe it is the new aldermen representing the even-numbered wards that will start with 4-year terms — those representing odd-numbered wards will initially have only a 2-year term. In 2025 the odd-numbered wards will hold elections for 4-year terms.

Voters also approved Proposition C establishing a Charter Commission to propose charter amendments to voters. I strongly recommend language changes to eliminate the March primary — with instant runoff/ranked-choice voting in every April in races with 3+ candidates. We shouldn’t have to go the polls just 4 weeks apart!

A 3% tax on recreational/adult-use cannabis was approved in the city, and in St. Louis County. Though I’m a supporter of legal cannabis, I’m among those who voted yes because these jurisdictions will need to provide city services.

Sadie Weiss and Tracy Hykes were elected to the board of education, Nicole Robinson defeated incumbent Pam Ross for a trustee seat on the community college board. Voters approved the DeBaliviere special business tax district.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.


BREAKING! New MLS Stadium Sponsor to be Announced Monday

April 1, 2023 Featured, MLS Stadium Comments Off on BREAKING! New MLS Stadium Sponsor to be Announced Monday

Last year ST LOUIS CITY SC, the latest MLS expansion team, announced a stadium naming partner only to announce later that deal fell through.

The downtown-based home of St. Louis CITY SC is now known as Centene Stadium, it was announced Tuesday.

The expansion club, which will become Major League Soccer’s 29th team upon competing in 2023, has entered a 15-year naming rights partnership with the multi-national healthcare enterprise.

mlssoccer.com February 15, 2022

The team released a slick video via Twitter:

A little over 6 months later, Centene was out!

ST. LOUIS — Centene Corp. has backed out as the naming sponsor for the new Major League Soccer stadium here, just eight months after striking the deal.

St. Louis City SC’s stadium will now be called CITYPARK, the team said Tuesday, and it is searching for a new naming sponsor.
The Clayton-based health insurer’s decision marks the first major upheaval among the team’s corporate sponsors that include some of St. Louis’ most well-known businesses, such as Anheuser-Busch and Purina.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The thrilling home matches have been at CITYPARK — yes, all caps. According to sources today a new stadium sponsor will be announced Monday.

Dirt Cheap’s mascot Clucky promoting the Blues NHL team. Monday expect to see Clucky outfitted in STL City SC kit! Fun fun!

Another well-known St. Louis company has stepped up. The new name will be, ironically, Dirt Cheap Stadium. MLS rules prohibited it from being called Dirt Cheap Beer & Cigarettes Stadium. Carol House Furniture was a close second.

This is sort of in the family. STL CITY SC’s main owners are related to the late Andy Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Dirt Cheap Beer & Cigarettes was founded by Paul Taylor, Andy’s 2nd cousin. Not to be confused with Andy’s late brother Paul.

Note, the person many of us remembers from Dirt Cheap commercials was not founder Paul Taylor, but employee Fred Teutenberg.

Enjoy tonight’s home match hosting Minnesota United FC at CITYPARK. In two weeks we’ll host FC Cincinnati at Dirt Cheap Stadium…even though tickets, food, beverage are anything but dirt cheap.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.