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St. Louis Earth Day Festival; Poll On Global Warming

Earth Day is recognized all over the world today, including here in St. Louis:

The St. Louis Earth Day Festival is the oldest Earth Day festival in the Midwest and the third largest celebration in the country! Attracting 30,000+ attendees annually, the Festival is a premier destination for the public to learn about a wide-range of environmental issues in an engaging and entertaining setting. 

The St. Louis Earth Day Festival is today, Sunday April 22nd, from 11am to 6pm in Forest Park. The event is free.

ABOVE: Forest Park

The organizers, naturally, would prefer you not drive to Forest Park for the event, their “Planning Your Visit” page offers directions on using public transit, bicycling, walking and carpooling. Unfortunately, like most local events they mention MetroLink but forgot about MetroBus — you know the part of our public transit that carries more people daily.

The number of bus lines around Forest Park are too numerous to list. Besides taking a bus to Forest Park you can take a bus to one of the MetroLink stations to get on the light rail system. Buy a transfer on the bus ($2.75 total) and the transfer will also cover your MetroLink trip for 2 hours.

ABOVE: From Metro's Missouri system map, click to view (large PDF)

WEEKLY POLL:

The poll this week seeks to see if readers see a connection between global warming and the weather in the US. The poll question was copied from a national poll that will be credited on Wednesday May 2, 2012 when the poll results are presented. The poll is in the right sidebar.

– Steve Patterson

 

Not Quite Half Of Readers Would Support Arch/Park Sales Tax, A Third Oppose

ABOVE: The final piece of the Gateway Arch was set into place on Thursday October 28, 1965

If the folks at CityArchRiver plan to get voters to approve a 3/16¢ sales tax with part of the funds paying off bonds for their 2015 project they’ve got their work cut out for them. I think it’s fair to say the readership here is more pro-city than the region at large but not even half of those that voted indicated they’d support such a tax:

Q: Would You Support A 3/16¢ Sales Tax Increase for Parks/Arch?

  1. Yes, we need to invest in parks and the Arch is a major tourist attraction for the region 67 [49.63%]
  2. No, sales taxes are too high already 45 [33.33%]
  3. Maybe 15 [11.11%]
  4. Other: 7 [5.19%]
  5. Unsure/No Opinion 1 [0.74%]

Those that answered “maybe” could be the deciding factor on approval, assuming 50% +1 is what’s needed for approval. Here are the other answers that were submitted:

  1. Not for the current arch ground plan, we need to start over again I’m afraid
  2. for city parks, yes, National Parks, no
  3. Not unless it will help pay for removal of the depressed/elevated section of I70
  4. Yes, but lets also include Jefferson County
  5. No, not for the current project. Save local funds for metro expansion (N/S Line)
  6. Only if they got rid of the ridiculous idea of the gondola going across the rive
  7. yes but only if the bill is expanded to all of the METRO AREA

We’ll see what happens if a tax increase measure is placed on the ballot for voters to decide.

– Steve Patterson

 

Stop By The Court of Honor Saturday During Iraq War Parade

Come downtown tomorrow morning for a parade to honor Iraq War veterans:

ABOVE: A family walks through St. Louis' Court of Honor, June 2010

The parade will step off at noon Saturday from Kiener Plaza and travel west on Market Street to Union Station. Inside Union Station, organizers plan to offer a “resource village” from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. where veterans can connect with service providers such as the Red Cross or Department of Veterans Affairs. Entertainment is planned from 3 to 8:30 p.m. (STLtoday.com)

While you are downtown along Market Street be sure to visit the Court of Honor (between 13th & 14th streets).   The Court of Honor was the subject of my posts on Monday & Tuesday. Officials at the Soldiers’ Memorial say the space sees few visitors. The design of the space is remarkable from all sides, it opened Memorial Day 1948.

-Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis’ Court of Honor, Part 2 — Proposed New Memorial

Yesterday’s post gave you the background on the Court of Honor, opened in 1948 to honor those who died in WWII (read post), later updated to honor those who died in Korea & Vietnam.  Today’s post is about a proposed memorial for all those from the entire state killed in our last three wars: Desert Storm/Desert Shield, Operation Iraqi Freedom, & Operation Enduring Freedom (still ongoing). To date that count is 149 (see list) with roughly 20-30 from the St. Louis area. I posted about this memorial effort from the Missouri Military Memorial Foundation last May.

ABOVE: Rendering of proposal from November 2011, click image to view PDF with more views.

When I first saw the PDF with images in November it looked like the design was created for a generic site, not the Court of Honor block. Last week they presented the design to us along with updated images in the context. From the presentation to the Gateway Mall Advisory Board on January 18, 2012:

“The overall design will feature eight to ten granite star monuments strategically placed around a centerpiece. The Centerpiece will be measure approximately 20 feet in diameter and will house a digital display and speakers that will show videos of the personal stories of the heroes memorialized here, as well as informative videos about the military conflicts these servicemen and women served during. The Centerpiece has an outline of the State of Missouri on the surface and the conflicts represented by the Memorial.

The Star Monuments are solid concrete cores with 2″ granite veneers and will feature plaques of the fallen heroes which will include a black and white photograph of the serviceman or woman, along with information of what city they were from, their branch of service they were in at the time of their sacrifice as well as other information on them. The tops of the Star Monuments  are outlined in gold, again referencing back to the symbolism of the Gold Star family.

Each Star Monument will be able to display up to 28 plaques in total. They will be 6’0″ in height in the front and 9’6″ on the back. All plaques will be placed at or below average eye level so children and those in wheelchairs can easily read them. The paths between the monuments are also in adherence to ADA requirements for wheel chairs [sic] to negotiate around.”

You can read the full presentation handout here (3-page PDF). Initially we focused on the fact the roughly 30′ x 100′ plaza would abut the sidewalk and adjacent parked cars on Chestnut and suggested a landscape buffer. But as we continued discussing the proposal some commented on the darkness of the black granite, the towering size of the star monuments and the formal design in contrast to the adjacent Court of Honor.

ABOVE: Lawn area where proposed memorial would be built

I can’t speak for my fellow members of the Gateway Mall Advisory Board but I stated during our meeting that I didn’t think this proposal was in keeping with the Gateway Mall Master Plan. Interestingly the plan mentions the blocks to the north, east & west of Soldiers’ Memorial but not the block to the south containing the Court of Honor. Unfortunately Parks Director Gary Bess approved the location in 2010.

What changes are compatible with the master plan then if nothing is mentioned? In my view adding memorials within the court of honor for additional wars, as was done for the Korean & Vietnam Wars, is very appropriate. The Court of Honor lists 2,753 soldiers from WWII, 214 from the Korean War and 161 from the Vietnam War — 3,128 in total. These are from St. Louis City & County.

ABOVE: Memorial for the 161 killed in the Vietnam War

The master plan assumes the wide “hallway” will be built along the south edge of the block to tie all the blocks of the Gateway Mall together. A 30′ x 100′ plaza with a video screen a large circle and 8-10 stars taller than me on the green space on the north side of the Court of Honor?  I do feel for the loss they’ve experienced but what goes into this block must be signed to compliment, not compete with, the Court of Honor.

The estimated cost is $1.3 million.  I like to see private funds raised and invested in St. Louis’ public parks but not at the expense of the integrity of the space. I don’t think we should build horizontal plaza spaces in the lawn areas on any of the four sides of the Court of Honor. Doing so will detract from the Court of Honor in the center of the block.

I do think we must add something within the Court of Honor to acknowledge the sacrifice made by the men & women who fought in these three wars. If the names are listed as in previous wars there is room for all 149 from the entire state. One thing that caught my imagination is the video screen and the ability of that to communicate so much more information. My thought is this: add the names inside the Court of Honor, build the hallway on this that will connect to the hallway on other blocks eventually tying the entire Gateway Mall together.

ABOVE: The Gateway Mall master plan calls for this "hallway" to run from Broadway to 20th

Right now we have only two blocks of the hallway, along the south edge of Citygarden. This element will make the primary access point to the Court of Honor block on the south side, not the north.

ABOVE: The Court of Honor as seen from the future hallway with Soldiers' Memorial in the background.

I can imagine an element in the center of the sidewalk, or to one side, that would identify this as the Court of Honor and include an interactive video screen. On screen touch controls would allow someone to find the information on their loved one or watch videos about those honored.  The software could include features for WWII, Korea & Vietnam — such as some of the videos created by Nine Network (KETC).

That’s my thoughts on how to both honor those who gave their lives while also honoring the space and the thousands already honored here. My heart goes out to those trying to memorialize those 149 servicemen & women but I must also think about the 3,128 already memorialized here. The Gateway Mall Advisory Board will meet again via conference call to finalize our recommendations.

– Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis’ Court of Honor, Part 1 — Background

January 23, 2012 Downtown, Featured, Parks, Planning & Design Comments Off on St. Louis’ Court of Honor, Part 1 — Background

St. Louis’ “Court of Honor” is an outdoor war memorial in the block bounded by Market, 13th, Chestnut and 14th, this is the block directly south of the WWI Soldiers’ Memorial.

The Court of Honor was designed by architect Eugene Mackey, Jr. and sculptor Hillis Arnold in the Italian Monumental Architecture style and was first created to honor those who were killed during World War II. The center piece of the court is the forty-foot limestone pillar decorated with bas-relief images of soldiers in battle. The pillar itself is designed to resemble a bayonet that has been broken, symbolizing the end of hostilities. Facing the Court of Honor, are the beautiful sculptures by Walker Hancock at the Soldier’s Memorial Military Museum and depict the four virtues of a World War I soldier: Courage, Vision, Loyalty and Sacrifice. Upon completion, the Court of Honor was dedicated and opened to the public on Memorial Day of 1948 with the commemoration of “To our sons and daughters who gave their lives for God and Country.” In the following years, memorials to those St. Louisans who were killed in the Korean and Vietnam Wars were added as bookends the far end of the court. (Source)

The design is respectful of the purpose but is still modern looking after more than six decades. I’m bringing up this block now because a group wants to add memorials to honor those killed in our last three wars: Desert Storm/Desert Shield, Operation Iraqi Freedom, & Operation Enduring Freedom (still ongoing). I posted about their effort last May.

ABOVE: A family walks through St. Louis' Court of Honor, June 2010

Last week they presented their concept to the Gateway Mall Advisory Board, of which I’m a member. Their proposal will be part 2, tomorrow. In short, I was very disappointed by their concept. I’ll get into that in part 2.  Today’s post is the background needed for tomorrow.

ABOVE: Aerial image of the Court of Honor block, click to view in Google Maps

The design is centered in the block but it isn’t symmetrical. It’s a sophisticated design and a nice contrast to the formal symmetry of the Soldiers’ Memorial to the north.

ABOVE: The tall south wall contains names of our WWII fallen

Decades before the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., the names of those killed in WWII are presented on a wall.

ABOVE: Names of those killed in Korea & Vietnam were added to each end of the central lawn
ABOVE: Close up of the Korean War addition

The Korean & Vietnam war additions weren’t added until 1979 — not long after the latter but decades after the former.

ABOVE: The southeast view of the Court of Honor, Soldiers' Memorial in the background.

The Court of Honor is entered from the south or north. The only wheelchair ramp is at the south entrance, a modification to the original design. Thus for me I consider the south entrance the main entry. This entry also directs you to the beautiful limestone pillar first.

Ninenet (KETC) did a great piece on the Court of Honor:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJHdXk-tYk4

Tomorrow I’ll show you the proposed addition to the block and outline my thoughts.

– Steve Patterson

 

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