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5th Ward Candidate Forum Tonight

April Ford-Griffin

The three women seeking to fill April Ford-Griffin’s unfinished term as 5th Ward Alderman will make their case tonight:

The League of Women Voters of St. Louis is moderating a public forum for candidates running for the St. Louis 5th Ward Alderwoman race on Tuesday, December 13 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Vashon High School Cafeteria, 3035 Cass Ave., 63106.

The public will have the opportunity to learn more about the candidates seeking election in the 5th Ward by hearing them speak and answer questions in a public forum one week before the special election. There are three candidates running for one vacancy: Tammika Hubbard (Democrat), Tonya Finley (Independent), and Rose M. Green (Independent). (St. Louis American)

I’ve never met any of these candidates in person but I will have to decide which one will get my vote on the 20th. My expectations, frankly, are low. I’ve yet to see any evidence any of them are a 21st century candidate with use of social media and a website.  They might say the majority of 5th ward voters aren’t on Twitter/online but national research suggests otherwise:

Non-white internet users continue to have higher rates of Twitter use than their white counterparts; indeed, the Twitter adoption gap between African-Americans and whites has increased over the past six months. In November 2010, there was an eight percentage point difference in Twitter use between African-American and white internet users (13% for blacks vs. 5% for whites). By May 2011, that gap was 16 percentage points—25% of online African Americans now use Twitter, compared with 9% of such whites. African-American and Latino internet users are each significantly more likely than whites to be Twitter adopters. Even more notable: One in ten African-American internet users now visit Twitter on a typical day—that is double the rate for Latinos and nearly four times the rate for whites. (Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project)

The tern expires in the Spring of 2013.

– Steve Patterson



Downtown’s New Entrance

Downtown St. Louis can be reached via car from all directions. None is particularly a nice drive, although I do like entering from Illinois via the Eads Bridge. When the New Mississippi River Bridgeopens in 2014 motorists on I-70 from Illinois and west of St. Louis will have a new option, an exit that takes them to Cass Ave and directly onto a new alignment of Tucker Blvd into downtown.

ABOVE: Facing south toward downtown on the new Tucker Blvd

A short stretch of the rebuilt Tucker recently opened to traffic. I’ve had a chance to drive it twice and walk part of the sidewalk. It’s too early to do a review of the design of the road & sidewalks but so far it looks good with only a few problems I’ll note in a later post once more is opened.

ABOVE: Tucker after the old road, a bridge over a railroad tunnel, was removed

The good is the road is only two lanes in each direction. Rather than have three per direction with the outside used for parking or buses, the third lane isn’t a through lane. Space is provided for buses and parking but the road doesn’t feel excessively wide the way say Jefferson does between Olive & Natural Bridge. New new road, median, planted areas at the edges and street trees will make a great first impression. But when motorists look past the new sidewalks they will likely be disappointed by what they see. Great buildings like the one above, instead of housing retail storefronts, has the city’s Mosquito & Rat control division, aka Vector Control. Welcome to St. Louis!

ABOVE: Aerial image of the new Tucker (lower left) and bridge approach (upper right)

Most of the land is vacant — empty or surface parking lots as you near Washington Ave. Right now the only planning that’s been done is via Paul McKee’s Northside Regenerationplan:

The Missouri and Illinois Departments of Transportation are working together to construct a new bridge that spans the Mississippi River just north of downtown St. Louis. The new bridge has the potential to become both a catalyst for the revitalization of the area in the immediate vicinity of the “landing” and a new entrance into downtown St. Louis. For the catalytic effects of the new bridge to be fully realized, transportation improvements are needed in the area around the bridge ramps beyond what MoDOT has planned for their 2011 construction. McEagle has been working with the City of St. Louis and MoDOT to create a more efficient flow of traffic into the downtown and NorthSide areas from the new bridge. Along with the new N. Tucker Boulevard alignment planned to begin construction in spring 2010, McEagle has proposed two additional off ramps to the MRB interchange and a new Mullanphy Street realignment and bridge over the MRB Landing (MRB Extension). This Extension will provide a direct connection for west-bound traffic to the NorthSide as well as provide an alternative route for eastbound traffic to access the MRB interchange. The development yields for this area have been projected as follows:

  • Office/Business space: 860,000 sq ft
  • Retail: 173,000 sq ft
  • Residential: 2019 units
  • Hotel: 120 rooms

Regardless of your views on Paul McKee’s project you have to give him credit for recognizing the opportunity to develop new housing, offices and retail.

ABOVE: The following message popped up when I went to save this image from the source: "Since we are still in the early design phases of the project, we ask that you please not copy our images yet since these designs are not final." For my purposes here it shows that planning is being done.

I’m still concerned the new buildings will lack connections to adjacent sidewalks. St. Louis now has a “Complete Streets” policy, but no requirement for adjacent properties to connect. The ADA requires minimal connection but a building can be built and occupied without it, leaving enforcement up to those who complain. If we take McKee, and his consultants, at their word the area will be pedestrian-friendly. My preference, of course, would be a requirement by ordinance. Former 5th Ward Alderman April Ford-Griffin never would initiate such a requirement and I don’t expect any of the three woman running to fill the vacant seat to do so either. The election is December 20th. Good or bad, McKee has the Tucker & Cass area under control. But what about south of Biddle St? The 1986 McDonald’s was just razed and replaced. The new one does have an ADA access route from one of the four streets bordering the property, but it’s still a prototype  best suited for a suburban/rural highway exit.

ABOVE: The east side of Tucker has the Post-dispatch, St. Patrick's Center & the Globe building, but the west side has parking and a gas station and little else. 2009 photo.

The west side of Tucker needs urban buildings up to the sidewalk, like they are on the east side.

ABOVE: Globe-Democrat building at Tucker & Delmar (aka Convention Plaza)

This is one of those opportunities that doesn’t come along often. Will we step up and take the necessary actions to ensure Tucker develops right over the next 20-30 years?

– Steve Patterson


Open Streets Event Today Highlights Cars Dominate St. Louis Streets Rest of the Year

Today, Saturday October 8, 2011, St. Louis will block off a few streets so that pedestrians and cyclists can safely traverse them:

October 8, 2011, from 9:00 AM – 1:30 PM:
This Open Streets route will wind through Old North St. Louis. Connecting to the Old North Farmers’ Market and the Riverfront Trail, this route is excellent for serious cyclists as well as those who simply want to visit Crown Candy Kitchen, stroll through the marketplace, or see the community’s acclaimed revitalization of historic properties. This event will feature Healthy Living activities such as yoga and Zumba, as well as some of St. Louis’ favorite food trucks, live music, and art, active living, and culinary demonstrations. View the Old North St. Louis route at http://bit.ly/nNJOpx 

The other 364 days a year just drive.

The Open Streets events are somewhat interesting, gives me a chance to photograph buildings and streets from a position I might get only from within my car.  Still it would be nice seeing more people out walking and biking all year.

The two I did last year had starting points in downtown — one right outside my front door. Today I must travel to reach the route. Naturally the MetroBus I take to get to Old North has a reroute because of the event:

#30 Open Street- 14th closed at St. Louis Ave and 13th closed at N Market


Due to Open Street, 14th street will be closed at St. Louis Ave. and 13th street will be closed at N. Market. The following reroutes will be in effect Saturday, October 8 from 9 a.m. unil 1:30 p.m.


#30 Soulard NORTHBOUND

Regular route to 13th and Monroe, left on Monroe, right on N. Florissant, left on St. Louis Ave to regular route.


Regular route to St. Louis Ave and N. Florissant, right on N. Florissant, left on Monroe, right on 13th to regular route.

I’m a visual person to I had to look at a map to figure out the reroute. OK, I can get within a couple of blocks of the Jackson Circle, one of the endpoints of the event.

It would be nice if they showed the bus routes on the map. From the “getting there” page:

Since Open Streets closes streets off to cars, we recommend alternative methods of transportation:

Mass Transit: Open Streets is conveniently accessible by MetroLink and MetroBus.

They provide a link to “Get to the Oct 9th Open Streets via public transportation” which targets 14th & St. Louis Ave — Crown Candy Kitchen. The #74 isn’t affected by the event but the reroute isn’t shown on Google Maps.  This intersection is over 2 niles from the nearest MetroLink station! That means anyone wanting to participate using mass transit will ride the #30 or the #74, both of which can be boarded at the Civic Center station. But for novice bus riders it would have been nice of them to spell it out clearly.

I’m not yet sure if I will go but I am interested in photographing along the route.

– Steve Patterson


Fire Station 5 at 81

I’m a sucker for buff brick buildings and Fire Station 5 is among the finest in the city, in this blogger’s opinion.

ABOVE: South-facing facade of Fire Station 5 at N. Market and Rauschenbsach Ave was built in 1930

Located  in the St. Louis Place neighborhood, address is  2410 N. 22nd St.

ABOVE: Facade facing St. Louis Place Park

According to city records (GEO St. Louis) the building was built in 1930. The surrounding buildings are all from the 19th century so I wondered what was on the site prior to 1930.

ABOVE: Oct 1909 Sanborn map of Engine Co No 5 at the same location. Click image to view source of Sanborn map.

In 1909 the site had a city horse hospital, hook & ladder co. no. 2 and engine co. no. 5.  These faced west toward N. 22nd Street, the 1930 building has most doors facing south with one facing east.

I recently heard a rumor that #5 was going to close. Charles Bryson, Director of Public Safety, says no decisions have been made to close any fire stations.

– Steve Patterson


1949: Old White Water Tower Lights Turned Back On

Sixty-two years ago the city lit up the old white water tower on Grand.

ABOVE: The Old White Water Tower, looking south on 20th Street

From St. Louis Day By Day by Frances Hurd Stadler:

September 22, 1949
The lights went on again at the old water tower on North Grand Boulevard as thousands watched and a band played the national anthem. The tall, white Corinthian column, which had been dark through all World War II, was illuminated when Mayor Joseph M. Darst threw a switch. Designed by architect George I. Barnett and completed in 1871, the tower furnished water for the north St. Louis area until 1912, when it was abandoned for newer technology.

I need to visit some evening to get night photos — assuming the lights at the base are in working order. If only I could sit at a sidewalk cafe to wait for just the right moment to take the pictures.

– Steve Patterson