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A Park With A View

One of the best views of St. Louis fireworks isn’t in St. Louis at all, but in East St. Louis across the Mississippi River.

ABOVE: Hundreds watched gathered on the 4th in the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis IL to watch the St. Louis fireworks.
ABOVE: Fireworks on the 4th with the Arch and St. Louis skyline in the background. Taken with an iPhone 4S.

For more information on Malcolm Martin Memorial Park click here.

— Steve Patterson

 

Happy Third Birthday Citygarden!

June 30, 2012 Downtown, Featured, Parks 4 Comments

Citygarden in downtown St. Louis has become such as important place it’s hard to think it’s only been open for three years. The dedication took place on June 30, 2009.

Citygarden is an urban park and sculpture garden in St. Louis, Missouri owned by the City of St. Louis but maintained by the Gateway Foundation. It is located between Eighth, Tenth, Market, and Chestnut streets,in the city’s “Gateway Mall” area. Before being converted to a garden and park, the site comprised two empty blocks of grass. (Wikipedia

These two blocks were completely passive before, and mostly overlooked.

ABOVE: lighting is part of what makes Citygarden so special
ABOVE: A friend's grandsons love ringing the bells
ABOVE: Iris' are among the plantings

Overall Citygarden has been a huge success, attracting residents and tourists. The only part that wasn’t a success was the restaurant, The Terrace View. From September 2011:

Jim Fiala has announced that he’ll be closing The Terrace View when the lease expires at the end of the year. The restaurant will go to lunch service only Mon. through Fri. from 11am until 2pm beginning Oct. 1, and the space will still be available for private events through the end of the year. (Feast)

 

In the above article Fiala said he couldn’t get enough evening customers. My personal experience on numerous visits was the food was good but the service was lacking. I still think about an excellent ratatouille I had once but that dinner with a friend is most remembered by the poor service. The menu was also wrong for the location, too upscale.

The space was only vacant for a few months though:

Unlike Jim Fiala’s Terrace View, which previously occupied the restaurant space in Citygarden, Joe’s Chili Bowl (808 Chestnut Street; 314-241-7070) is a complete departure from upscale dining. The surroundings remain exquisite, featuring views of Market Street and Busch Stadium, but the vibe is much more casual.

Joe’s Chili Bowl opened for lunch on April 13, and it started breakfast service this past Tuesday. General manager Roxanne Williams says that further expansion to a late-night menu will come slowly with time.

The menu at Joe’s Chili Bowl is more appropriate to families with kids wet from playing in the water features, I wish them well.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

So Long Ruth Porter Mall

Tearing down a mall? What stores did it have? No, not that kind of mall. A pedestrian mall.

Ruth Porter Park (officially named Ruth Porter Mall), is a linear park spanning nine blocks north from Delmar Blvd. to Etzel Ave., and one block west from Debaliviere to Goodfellow Ave. (source)

Most pedestrian malls were created by closing off a roadway but Ruth Porter Mall was created by razing buildings along a linear path. A 1971 aerial on historicaerials.com shows the clearing of buildings present in a 1958 aerial. By the time I first walked it in the 1990s it was looking very tired. View in Google Maps here.

ABOVE: Porter Park was also known as Ruth Porter Mall, June 2010
ABOVE: Looking west with Delmar on the left and the park on the right, June 2010

Who was Ruth Porter anyway? She was an African-American born in 1915 who died just 52 years later in 1967:

Ruth Porter was a founder and first executive secretary of the Greater St. Louis Committee for Freedom of Residence, a group organized in 1961 to break down housing restrictions and integrate housing in St. Louis. In 1958, she won an award from the National Conference for Christians and Jews for promoting racial understanding. She was named outstanding woman of the year in 1965 by the NAACP. Her tireless efforts to secure fair housing eventually led to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Jones vs. Mayer case, which was won by residents she helped to support.

At one time Porter was also director of the Kinloch YMCA and a leader in the West End Community Conference. The Ruth Porter Mall at Delmar Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue is named in her honor. (Source

The Supreme Court decision came a year after her passing.

ABOVE: A derelict play area, May 2011
ABOVE: Walking expert Dan Burden leads a group through Ruth Porter Mall with standing water on the path, May 2011. Burden will be in town later this week for six free events. Click image for info & registration.

So what will become of the space? It’ll be incorporated into a larger trail network:

St. Vincent Greenway will extend for more than seven miles from NorthPark, near I-70 and Hanley Road, to Forest Park. The greenway route includes the completed sections through University of Missouri-St. Louis campus and the adjoining St. Vincent (County) Park.

The primary trail will continue to the Rock Road MetroLink station area, the MET Center in Wellston, and the West End and Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhoods. The greenway will follow Engelholm Creek as much as possible.

The remainder of the primary greenway trail from the North Hanley MetroLink station to Forest Park is being designed.

The next segment slated for construction lies within the City of St. Louis. Construction through Porter Park (Ruth Porter Mall), and along Etzel Avenue from the park west to Skinker, will begin in October. Finishing touches will be applied in the spring.

At Forest Park, St. Vincent Greenway eventually will connect to other greenways, such as Centennial, Chouteau, and River des Peres. In the NorthPark business development, the greenway will meet the Maline Creek Greenway now being planned. (Great Rivers Greenway)

That’s a nice connection.

ABOVE: Old park structures cleared away in March 2012
ABOVE: Workers building the new improvements, June 2012

More from Great Rivers Greenway’s website:

This extension of the St. Vincent Greenway will change the usage of public right-of-way along Etzel Avenue from Skinker Boulevard eastward to Porter Park, allowing a physical separation of the greenway route from vehicles. The existing sidewalk in Porter Park will be re-surfaced as a trail. Both segments will contain many delightful upgrades and surprises.

When the Loop Trolley is constructed, the greenway will continue within the eastern half of the right-of-way of DeBaliviere Avenue south to Forest Park. (source)

 

The Ruth Porter Mall wasn’t accesible at all. It was built pre-ADA and it was never retrofitted with wheelchair ramps. I’m glad to see it change and become part of something bigger but I hope Ruth Porter is somehow remembered.

— Steve Patterson

 

Reading: St. Louis Parks by NiNi Harris and Esley Hamilton

May 19, 2012 Books, Featured, Parks 3 Comments

The St. Louis region is home to many great parks and now historians (and personal friends) NiNi Harris and Esley Hamilton have collaborated on a book about parks in St. Louis city & county, respectively. The title, appropriately enough, St. Louis Parks.

ABOVE: Cover of the new hardcover book from Reedy Press, click image for publisher's page

The forward is by Peter H. Raven and the 164 page book is filled with beautiful images by photographers  Mark Abeln and Steve Tiemann.

ABOVE: Image of Fairgrounds Park by Mark Abeln

The wealth of knowledge that both Harris & Hamilton have shared is overwhelming. NiNi Harris shared this thought with me:

I love showing visitors to St. Louis around our City Parks. They are always awed by the beauty of our parks. And they are wowed by the number of parks, the variety of sizes from pocket parks to enormous Forest Park, from pedestrian parks to driving parks, from squares to linear parks. Hopefully, this book can help more people discover and enjoy this remarkable treasure.

Look for it in the library or your local bookstore.

– Steve Patterson

 

Neglected Aloe Plaza & Carl Milles Fountain Will Be 75 Years Old In Just Three Years

May 11, 2012 Featured, Parks 8 Comments

On October 28 2015 we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the final piece of the Gateway Arch.  The Arch didn’t open to the public until June 10, 1967.

On May 11, 2015 Aloe Plaza  across from Union Station will be 75 years old. Few seem to care.

ABOVE:People enjoying the park on June 19, 2011
ABOVE: Sitting water around the base on June 3, 2008
ABOVE: Carl Milles' "Meeting of the Waters" not the same without water, May 9, 2012
ABOVE: The standing water when the fountain is on due to the drainage system being totally clogged

I’d like to see CityArchRiver focus on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Arch in 2017 rather than rush for a 2015 completion, although we should recognize the topping of the Arch in 2015. I’d also like us to renew Aloe Plaza for it’s 75th anniversary.

– Steve Paterson

 

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