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St. Louis’ Easton & Franklin Avenues Became Dr. Martin Luther King Drive 45 Years Ago Today

February 17, 2017 Featured, History/Preservation, MLK Jr. Drive, North City Comments Off on St. Louis’ Easton & Franklin Avenues Became Dr. Martin Luther King Drive 45 Years Ago Today

Last month, on the Martin Luther King holiday, I posted my 13th look at the street named after the slain civil rights leader — see Annual Look At Changes Along St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive. From a STL250 Facebook post that has since been deleted:

This Day in St. Louis History, February 17, 1972:
Martin Luther King Boulevard is dedicated

A Board of Aldermen bill was passed that changed the name of Easton Avenue and portions of Franklin Avenue to Martin Luther King Boulevard. Alderman C.B. Broussard was a primary sponsor, and he announced that the change was part of a nationwide organized drive to rename street[s[ in honor of the murdered civil rights figure. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed by James Earl Ray on April 4, 1968 while standing on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. Just days after his murder, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

By 1972 St. Louis was aware the 1960s was its second decade in a row with major losses in population. In the two decades since the St. Louis population peaked in the 1950 census, the city lost more than a quarter of its residents. The biggest reduction, however, happened during the 1970s. By the 1980 census St. Louis had again lost more than a quarter of the population — in a single decade.

As the white middle class fled North St. Louis for North St. Louis County, commercial streets like Easton & Franklin Avenues were already in decline before 1972.

One building symbolizes this change better than any other. Demolition of existing 2-story buildings began on February  29, 1948 — the new JC Penny store opened the following year. By 1967 the store was so crowded a warehouse was added to the West (since demolished). Less than a decade later, the store closed on September 11, 1976.

 

The former JC Penny store (1949-1976) on MLK in the Wellston Loop in the modern style with an urban form, rather than style of its red brick neighbors that are 20-40 years older.
Click image to view the nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

As residents fled to North County retailers followed them. New shopping areas like Northland (1955), River Roads (1962), Northwest Plaza (1965),  and Jamestown Mall (1973) opened to serve the new suburban middle class. Franklin & Easton Avenues would have declined even it not renamed.

Can this corridor be revived? To the point of being the honor it was intended? I have my doubts. Perhaps we should do something different to causally honor Dr. King’s legacy and return the street name to Easton & Franklin Avenues?

— Steve Patterson

 

Annual Look At Changes Along St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive

January 16, 2017 Featured, MLK Jr. Drive, North City Comments Off on Annual Look At Changes Along St. Louis’ Dr Martin Luther King Drive

Today is the 13th year I’m posting about St. Louis’ Dr. Martin Luther King Drive — formerly Franklin & Easton Avenues.  These streets were official renamed almost 45 years ago, on February 17, 1972.

As in the past dozen years, there are some bright spots:

The former medical office ion the NW corner of MLK & 14th has been vacant the last few years but it looks like someone is preparing to reuse the building which was built in 2001.
The former medical office ion the NW corner of MLK & 14th has been vacant the last few years but it looks like someone is preparing to reuse the building which was built in 2001.
Just West of Jefferson I noticed on-street parking spaces are in front of a bus stop for the #94. Parking cars between a bus stop and the bus means the bus drover must find another place to pickup/drop off wheelchair passengers such as myself.
Just West of Jefferson I noticed on-street parking spaces are in front of a bus stop for the #94. Parking cars between a bus stop and the bus means the bus drover must find another place to pickup/drop off wheelchair passengers such as myself.
Across the street a former bar & restaurant that had burned is now gone.
Across the street a former bar & restaurant that had burned is now gone.
In September the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) opened a museum at the location where the union was founded 125 years before. Click image for news story on the opening.
In September the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) opened a museum at the location where the union was founded 125 years before. Click image for news story on the opening.
 Another view of IBEW's Henry Miller Museum -- click the image for the official website. Haven't visited yet -- couldn't find hours, admission price, or accessibility information online.
Another view of IBEW’s Henry Miller Museum — click the image for the official website. Haven’t visited yet — couldn’t find hours, admission price, or accessibility information online.
A year ago, January 2016, the building was barely a shell.
A year ago, January 2016, the building was barely a shell.
New senior housing called Vandeventer Place, at 4232 Dr. Martin Luther King. A decade ago the St. Louis chapter of the AIA wanted to build a farmers;' market on this cite, but that project never got pff the drawing boards.
New senior housing called Vandeventer Place, at 4232 Dr. Martin Luther King. A decade ago the St. Louis chapter of the AIA wanted to build a farmers;’ market on this cite, but that project never got pff the drawing boards.
The corner storefront on the SW corner with Taylor is now gone.
The corner storefront on the SW corner with Taylor is now gone.
mlk201708Just West of Union is what's left pf a 3-story house I've watched slow;y deteriorate
Just West of Union is what’s left pf a 3-story house I’ve watched slow;y deteriorate
How the building above looked 4 years ago
How the building above looked 4 years ago
This building had a big fire a few years ago...but it holds on.
This building had a big fire a few years ago…but it holds on.
Friendly Temple Baptist Church is a major land owner in the area. though mostly surface parking. One building at Belt is being remodeled to open a bank branch.
Friendly Temple Baptist Church is a major land owner in the area. though mostly surface parking. One building at Belt is being remodeled to open a bank branch.
The banner reads "Coming Summer 2016", click image for February 2016 news story.
The banner reads “Coming Summer 2016”, click image for February 2016 news story.
One of my favorite buildings in St. Louis survived another year.
One of my favorite buildings in St. Louis survived another year.
The Wellston Loop trolley building is also a survivor, though it is looking rather sad
The Wellston Loop trolley building is also a survivor, though it is looking rather sad
The building was fenced off in August 2016, click image for history
The building was fenced off in August 2016, click image for history

The abandonment in the neighborhoods on either side of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive make the task of revitalizing this corridor all but impossible.

— Steve Patterson

 

Annual Look at Dr. Martin Luther King Drive

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day so, like the previous 11, I’m taking at look at his namesake road in St. Louis. Unlike some previous years, very little appears to have changed since last year.

I started downtown, drove out to the Wellston Loop at the city limits, and drove back.

The corners of MLK & 14th are getting new curb cuts -- was needed.
The corners of MLK & 14th are getting new curb cuts — was needed.
Imo's new headquarters
Imo’s new headquarters
This modest structure being rehabbed was once a boarding house, in 1891 Henry Miller founded what is today the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Once finished it'll be a museum will open to honor him. Click image for more information.
This modest structure being rehabbed was once a boarding house, in 1891 Henry Miller founded what is today the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Once finished it’ll be a museum will open to honor him. Click image for more information.
Chronicle Coffee closed "temporarily for renovations and restructuring on 10/13/2014.", it still appears closed.The phone number is no longer in service.
Chronicle Coffee closed “temporarily for renovations and restructuring on 10/13/2014.”, it still appears closed.The phone number is no longer in service.
The SW corner of MLK & Taylor, 4500 MLK, was being razed. Was Taylor & Easton Drug. Click for map.
The SW corner of MLK & Taylor, 4500 MLK, was being razed. Was Taylor & Easton Drug. Click for map.
Same corner in January 2007, was built in 1905.
Same corner in January 2007, was built in 1905.
In 2015 bike lanes were added to part of MLK. Click image for information from Great Rivers Greenway
In 2015 bike lanes were added to part of MLK. Click image for information from Great Rivers Greenway
Last year I didn't think this building would make it to 2016
Last year I didn’t think this building would make it to 2016
Lots of buildings have been razed to provide parking lots for churches.
Lots of buildings have been razed to provide parking lots for churches.
Another building I didn't think would survive is still here is one of my favorites. Located just East of Goodfellow.
Another building I didn’t think would survive is still here is one of my favorites. Located just East of Goodfellow.

With the exception of the IBEW museum, this year was very depressing.

— 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

 

Changes Along St. Louis’ Dr. Martin Luther King Drive

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and for the 11th year in a row, I’m posting about St. Louis’ Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. (MLK herein). Unlike the past couple of years, this year offers no new projects completed or started. To check out changes I rode the #32 MetroBus on Thursday January 15th — the #32 runs on Cass until it merges with MLK West of Grand. Then on Saturday 1/17 I drove the length of the continuous portion of MLK — from East of Tucker to past the city limits.

This post covers the main changes I saw from last year:

  1. Modifications to ADA ramps, new crosswalks
  2. Buildings being torn down or that may be gone before next year
  3. Signalized intersections now 4-way stops
In the car I started at Tucker, the farthest East MLK is continuous, and headed  West past the city limits.
In the car I started at Tucker, the farthest East MLK is continuous, and headed West past the city limits in the suburb of Wellston.

1) DA Ramps & New Points to Cross MLK

MLK goes through multiple wards, areas built at different period and very different grids.  Within the last decade a major traffic calming project on MLK between Jefferson & Grand reduced travel lanes, protected parking lanes, installed new lighting, and replaced sidewalks. As I’ve written before, this multi-million dollar from-scratch project forgot to  make any provisions to cross MLK for the mile-long project. Now, years later, this is finally getting corrected as best they can after the fact.

The Jefferson-Grand had the greatest need, but this new work took place from end to end, where needed. These examples from East to West. For those unfamiliar, I often use public transit with a power wheelchair.

All along MLK Dr I saw evidence of new ramps and crosswalks. Hopefully the city will come back to fill in the asphalt gap -- I often need to report these as I encounter them.
All along MLK Dr I saw evidence of new ramps and crosswalks. Hopefully the city will come back to fill in the asphalt gap — I often need to report these as I encounter them.
One of my criticisms over the years has been a lack of places to cross MLK.This has finally been addressed.
This new crossing point is at N 22nd
Another view of the same. Lack of crosswalks is often an unintended consequence of street removal to create super blocks.
Another view of the same. Lack of crosswalks is often an unintended consequence of street removal to create super blocks.
mmm
I’ve personally had trouble getting to/from the bus stop on the North side of Leffingwell
Looking South-ish at Leffingwell
Looking South-ish at Leffingwell
Just West of Glasgow Ave
Just West of Glasgow Ave, looking North
Same new crosswalk, looking South
Same new crosswalk, looking South
New crosswalk at N Cardinal Ave, has been a 3-way stop for years, just no way to cross
New crosswalk at N Cardinal Ave, has been a 3-way stop for years, just no way to cross
I was driving this day but I'm usually in a wheelchair, I first saw this man East of Jefferson and now he's almost to Cardinal. He's in the street because the new ramps have those huge gaps that can't be crossed until filled with asphalt.
I was driving this day but I’m usually in a wheelchair, I first saw this man East of Jefferson and now he’s almost to Cardinal. He’s in the street because the new ramps have those huge gaps that can’t be crossed until filled with asphalt.
Where MLK meets Cozens a new channel was created for wheelchair navigation, lacks a point to pass when two meet each other. Sorry for the blurry image.
Where MLK meets Cozens a new channel was created for wheelchair navigation, lacks a point to pass when two meet each other. Sorry for the blurry image.
The crosswalk leads to where a new ramp was, based on Google's aerial, but a newer ramp was build midway between Cozens & MLK
The crosswalk leads to where a new ramp was, based on Google’s aerial, but a newer ramp was build midway between Cozens & MLK
Same type of channel to the West where Cass & MLK meet, again no place to meet anyone
Same type of channel to the West where Cass & MLK meet, again no place to meet anyone
Much further West, at Burd Ave, a needed crosswalk is now completed.
Much further West, at Burd Ave, a needed crosswalk is now completed.

If only the civil engineers had considered the basic idea that pedestrians need to places to cross the street.

2) Demolished or will be

I saw no evidence of buildings removed in the last year, but one was actively being razed and others will likely be razed rather than rehabbed/rebuilt.

2618 MLK
In November 2014 fire destroyed The Hit Zone at 2618 MLK, just West of Jefferson. According to city records he 2-story building was built in 1996. Click image for KSDK story on the fire
2618 MLK East side
East side view of the destroyed bar at 2618 MLK

b

mlk201518
5088 MLK, just West of kingshighway, had a big fire in the fall It was inspected/condemned on 10/30/2-14
1495 Stewart Pl, built in 1890, was condemned 12/24/2013 -- over a year ago.
1495 Stewart Pl, built in 1890, was condemned on 12/24/2013 — over a year ago.
mlk fav
I’ve been watching 5716 MLK for years, I love the design. After seeing daylight through a side window I drove down the side street (Shawmut) to see the back.
back
Unfortunately the roof has collapsed over the Western half of the building.
LRA 5746 MLK built in 1907
5746 MLK being razed brick by brick, built in 1907. A city (LRA) property
October 2009, Source: GEO St. Louis
October 2009, Source: GEO St. Louis
Last remains of the State Bank of Wellston, in Wellston. Click image for more information
Last remains of the State Bank of Wellston, in Wellston. Click image for more information
Passing by on MetroBus, April 2013
Passing by on MetroBus, April 2013

Many of these neighborhoods are depressing; lots of poverty, few jobs in the area. I’d imagine many residents would like a way out. Yet, efforts to bring investment and jobs would be labeled as gentrification. Not sure how to change the situation in these neighborhoods, but I don’t like watching them crumble.

3) From Signalized to 4-Way Stop

Two intersections that have traffic signals, now shut off, are 4-way stops.

MLK & Euclid is now a 4-way stop, the signals are turned off.
MLK & Euclid is now a 4-way stop, the signals are turned off.

The other is MLK & N. Sarah.

Peace…

— Steve Patterson

 

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