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A Detailed Look at the Old & New Luther Ely Smith Square

December 8, 2015 Downtown, Featured, Parks 2 Comments

Following the Arch’s 50th Anniversary on October 28th I posted that the Luther Ely Smith Square Flagpole Will Replace Flag on Top of Old Courthouse Dome. At the time the newly redesigned Luther Ely Smith Square wasn’t open yet. Late last month it opened.

Before taking a look at the new I thought we should first look at the old.

Looking East toward the Arch from the top of the steps at 4th Street, July 2014
Looking East toward the Arch from the top of the steps at 4th Street, July 2014
Looking West toward the Old Courthouse, October 2014
Looking West toward the Old Courthouse, October 2014
Looking North on Memorial Dr from Olive. Luther Ely Smith Square is on the left, July 2010
Looking North on Memorial Dr from Olive. Luther Ely Smith Square is on the left, July 2010
From the Arch grounds, June 2011
From the Arch grounds, June 2011

Unfortunately. these images don’t give you a good overview. For that we need to look down from somewhere high up — like the Arch.

From the Arch we see Memorial Drive on either side of the depressed interstate lanes and Luther Ely Smith Square, December 2012
From the Arch we see Memorial Drive on either side of the depressed interstate lanes and Luther Ely Smith Square, December 2012
Tighter crop focusing on the Square -- was pretty boring.
Tighter crop focusing on the Square — was pretty boring.
Construction on the "lid" over the highway, July 2014
Construction on the “lid” over the highway, July 2014

Okay, let’s take a look at the new Luther Ely Smith Square (LESS):

The current view looking East from the Old Courthouse
The current view looking East from the Old Courthouse
From the base of the new flagpole
From the base of the new flagpole
Walkways on either side of a low bern lead you tossed the Arch. The previous flight of steps in the center meant many didn't go through the Square.
Walkways on either side of a low bern lead you tossed the Arch. The previous flight of steps in the center meant many didn’t go through the Square.
Mostly the new walkways are a smooth exposed aggregate concrete, but brick was used in some locations.
Mostly the new walkways are a smooth exposed aggregate concrete, but brick was used in some locations.
Modern bike racks, that will support the bike frame, are along the South & North outer walkways.
Modern bike racks, that will support the bike frame, are along the South & North outer walkways.
Looking East along the wide sidewalk next to Olive. This will be a drop off point for Arch visitors
Looking East along the wide sidewalk next to Olive. This will be a drop off point for Arch visitors
Each side has a small oval-shaped space accessed from the outer walks or steps from the center
Each side has a small oval-shaped space accessed from the outer walks or steps from the center
From inside the South oval
From inside the South oval
Continuing East on the outer sidewalk we see the motorized bollards that can be lowered as needed. These will likely be a maintenance issue.
Continuing East on the outer sidewalk we see the motorized bollards that can be lowered as needed. These will likely be a maintenance issue.
Everything is directing you toward the new Arch entry, now under construction
Everything is directing you toward the new Arch entry, now under construction
Looking North over what was the opening down to the highway. A small platform has been built to allow you to see the construction activity.
Looking North over what was the opening down to the highway. A small platform has been built to allow you to see the construction activity.
The accessible platform allows to peak over the concrete barrier
The accessible platform allows to peak over the concrete barrier
The North side just inside the bollards seen to be the new spot where everyone is posing for pics
The North side just inside the bollards seen to be the new spot where everyone is posing for pics
What I really like are the views back to the Old Courthouse
What I really like are the views back to the Old Courthouse
Closer, from the North center walkway
Closer, from the North center walkway
Looking toward 4th & Chestnut
Looking toward 4th & Chestnut

This Square is an important part of the new plan to have visitors enter the Arch grounds from downtown. It’s well-designed and draws you toward the Arch. The lid over the highway can become the lid over a boulevard in the future.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Feelings on Proposed Entry Markers for Forest Park?

In August it was announced new entry markers would be coming to Forest Park entrances:

The City of St. Louis and the private nonprofit conservancy Forest Park Forever have announced plans to construct the first of eight new arrival markers at key Forest Park entrances. Called for in the 1995 Forest Park Master Plan, these thresholds will more formally welcome visitors arriving by foot, on bicycle and by car, clearly identify the Park’s primary and secondary entrances — especially key for visitors from around the region and country — and create welcoming nodes where visitors can meet and gather. 

At the first site selected, the popular entrance at Skinker/Wells/Clayton at the Park’s southwest edge, a temporary mock-up will be installed in fall 2015; this will allow stakeholders and the Forest Park Advisory Board — established in the Master Plan to ensure public involvement in any new capital projects in the Park — to assess scale, positioning and Park context before continuing on with construction, which is planned for 2016. Design and construction costs for this entrance are estimated to be approximately $300,000. Forest Park Forever has raised the private funds necessary to proceed and complete it. St. Louis-based SWT Design has served as the project’s designer. (Forest Park Forever — with images)

I didn’t see the temporary mock-up in person, but late last month St. Louis Public Radio had a story on pushback & support.

Please vote below
Please vote below

Today’s poll wants to see where readers stand.

As always, the answers are presented in random order. This poll closes at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

The Future of Grant’s Farm is Uncertain

The future of Grant’s Farm is coming between siblings — children of the late August Anheuser “Gussie” Busch, Jr. (1899-1989). I find it unsettling to see wealthy siblings, in their 50s & 60s, disagreeing m public.

Before I go any further, I have a confession: I’ve never been inside the gates of Grant’s Farm or the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site located across…Grant Rd. I’ve certainly driven past on Gravois many times, even exploring the perimeter like Pardee Rd. On Sunday we drove around the site completely. Though the site contains many buildings, it’s still very much unspoiled nature.

The Gravois Rd entry gates to Grant's Farm
The Gravois Rd entry gates to Grant’s Farm

One comment on the Sunday Poll post was:

FYI your 3rd choice isn’t an option. Do a little research on what municipality Grant’s Farm lies in and what it’s zoning laws and ordinances are. Also look up what part lies in a flood plain. Not going to have to worry about any commercial or residential development here!

While poll answers are presented in random order, this was a reference to the poll answer: “Sell to a developer for houses &/or retail”  Not only is it possible, this is the concern of the four Busch siblings that would like to sell the animal preserve to the St. Louis Zoo.

Four Anheuser-Busch heirs worry that their brother, Billy Busch, will turn Grant’s Farm into a subdivision.

No one man can finance and maintain the sprawling South St. Louis County animal park, said Trudy Busch Valentine and Andy Busch. It’s just too expensive.

They have seen housing plat maps already drafted for the Grant’s Farm land, they both said, and know it’s an option for any owner if times get tough.

Billy Busch responded, saying he wouldn’t sell off land. St. Louis County classifies the land as single family, Grantwood Village has it zoned “Animal Preserve.” The Lindbergh School District would likely object to a loss of tax revenue if it went to the Zoo.

County records show the site as 214 acres, though news reports say 198 acres
County records show the site as 214 acres, though news reports say 198 acres
Parking & farm land on the East side of Grant Rd is a different ownership from the trust.
Parking & farm land on the East side of Grant Rd is a different ownership from the trust.
Pedestrian entrance from Grant Rd parking lot
Pedestrian entrance from Grant Rd parking lot
The National site is less than 9 acres
The National site is less than 9 acres

Here are the results of the Sunday Poll:

Q: Six Busch siblings can’t agree on Grant’s Farm, what would you like to see happen?

  1. William “Billy” Busch buys it, builds Kräftig Brewery on part, allows Zoo to use part. 31 [58.49%]
  2. St. Louis Zoo buys it, the region fund a new sales tax to cover annual operating expenses. 12 [22.64%]
  3. Stay as is, owned by the family trust & operated at an annual loss by AB InBev 9 [16.98%]
  4. Other — county buys, becomes affordable housing: 1 [1.89%]
  5. Sell to a developer for houses &/or retail 0 [0%]

A century ago such a family would’ve donated the land to the Zoo, along with an endowment to help cover upkeep. Are taxpayers willing to pay to keep this land as an animal preserve? Doubtful. The future seems uncertain.

— Steve Patterson

 

Aloe Plaza Lighting Is Too Bright

Aloe Plaza, across Market Street from Union Station, used to be very dark at night — too dark. While Kacie Starr Triplett was Alderman of the 6th Ward new lighting was added. The best that can be said is that it’s no longer dark.

Two new light poles were added to shine lights on Carl Milles' "Meeting of the Waters":, October 22nd
Two new light poles were added to shine lights on Carl Milles’ “Meeting of the Waters”:, October 22nd

From a distance, the lighting does a good job.  Before nobody wanted to be there after dark because it too dark, but now it’a too bright! Trying to get a good photo with Union Station in the background is impossible.

 

Not sure how much was spent on this lighting, or if it can be modified. It shouldn’t stay like this.

— Steve Patterson

 

Weekend View From The Eads Bridge

Over the weekend we walked down to see the progress at Luther Ely Smith Square, and the Arch. before heading back to our loft we went out on the pedestrian walkway of the Eads Bridge.

Laclede's Landing building that lost pare of a wall last month
Laclede’s Landing building that lost pare of a wall last month
Looking out where the Arch garage used to be
Looking out where the Arch garage used to be
With the Arch in the background
With the Arch in the background
Looking back toward downtown
Looking back toward downtown
The wall conceals the train tracks, part of the historic landscape design .
The wall/lookout (left) conceals the train tracks, part of the historic landscape design .
Work continues on the North end of Lenore K. Sullivan -- raising it was delayed by flooding.
Work continues on the North end of Lenore K. Sullivan — raising it was delayed by flooding.
The South end has already been raised about 4 feet.
The South end has already been raised about 4 feet.
Again, looking back toward downtown
Again, looking back toward downtown
Note sure what this was about on the Eads
Note sure what this was about on the Eads, presumably something to do with the restoration work going on below the top deck

Next nice day we have I’d encourage you to go for a walk on the Eads.  Over the next year the view below will change dramatically.

— Steve Patterson

 

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