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New Book — Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life by David Sim, Forward by Jan Gehl

August 30, 2019 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book — Soft City: Building Density for Everyday Life by David Sim, Forward by Jan Gehl

Upon receiving the email about this new book I immediately responded, “Yes, I’m interested.” Of course, European cities are very different from sprawling American metropolises. Still, I think there’s value in David Sim’s analysis of the approach we need to take.

From the publisher:

Imagine waking up to the gentle noises of the city, and moving through your day with complete confidence that you will get where you need to go quickly and efficiently. Soft City is about ease and comfort, where density has a human dimension, adapting to our ever-changing needs, nurturing relationships, and accommodating the pleasures of everyday life. How do we move from the current reality in most cites—separated uses and lengthy commutes in single-occupancy vehicles that drain human, environmental, and community resources—to support a soft city approach?

In Soft City David Sim, partner and creative director at Gehl, shows how this is possible, presenting ideas and graphic examples from around the globe. He draws from his vast design experience to make a case for a dense and diverse built environment at a human scale, which he presents through a series of observations of older and newer places, and a range of simple built phenomena, some traditional and some totally new inventions.

Sim shows that increasing density is not enough. The soft city must consider the organization and layout of the built environment for more fluid movement and comfort, a diversity of building types, and thoughtful design to ensure a sustainable urban environment and society.

Soft City begins with the big ideas of happiness and quality of life, and then shows how they are tied to the way we live. The heart of the book is highly visual and shows the building blocks for neighborhoods: building types and their organization and orientation; how we can get along as we get around a city; and living with the weather. As every citizen deals with the reality of a changing climate, Soft City explores how the built environment can adapt and respond.

Soft City offers inspiration, ideas, and guidance for anyone interested in city building. Sim shows how to make any city more efficient, more livable, and better connected to the environment. (Island Press)

The number of topics covered is overwhelming— zoning, transportation, walkability, climate change, etc. This book is packed with photos and colorful diagrams. See sample pages & contents at Google Books.

— Steve Patterson

 

2017 Book — ‘Lost Treasurers of St. Louis’ by Cameron Collins

August 2, 2019 Books, Featured Comments Off on 2017 Book — ‘Lost Treasurers of St. Louis’ by Cameron Collins
On the shelf at Apotheosis Comics & Lounge

Today’s book isn’t new, it came out two years ago.  I saw ‘Lost Treasurers of St. Louis’ by Cameron Collins in late April at Apotheosis Comics & Lounge, after we had dinner Meskerem Ethiopian next door. Both on South Grand.  At home I confirmed I hadn’t received a copy, so I emailed my contact at Reedy Press asking for a review copy. Boy I’m glad I did!

This month marks 29 years that I’ve lived in St. Louis, so while I didn’t go to high school here I do have nearly three decades of memories. This book helps me remember places I’ve either experienced in person or heard about from others. Few local books have brought me so many hours of joy.

A kaleidoscope of bygone places, events, and items once identified with the Gateway City, Lost Treasures of Saint Louis captures the essence of cherished times that still resonate with St. Louisans. Lost Treasures celebrates dancing to Ike and Tina at the Club Imperial, Bowling for Dollars at the Arena, taking in movies at Ronnie’s Drive-In, and myriad other pastimes enjoyed through the years. Rarely seen photos and artifacts revive eateries like Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria and the Crystal Palace, entertainment and sports attractions like the Goldenrod Showboat and Sportsman’s Park, retail stores like Famous-Barr and Scruggs, Vandervoot and Barney, community establishments like Cleveland High School and St. Bridget of Erin Church, and locally manufactured products like Mavrakos Candy and Falstaff Beer. Gone but not forgotten, all of the subjects featured elicit nostalgia and also reveal how the past has shaped our city. (Reedy Press)

The main organization is as follows:

  • Food & Drink
  • Entertainment
  • Retail
  • Media
  • Community

Each of those have numerous subcategories.

My review copy

The older restaurants are ones that either closed before I moved to St. Louis, or I didn’t eat there before they closed.  Here are the ones in the book I did patronize at least once:

  • 94th Aero Squadron
  • Rossino’s (I thought it was a basement fire trap, but I loved the food)
  • Duff’s
  • Del Pietro’s House of Pasta
  • Shakey’s Pizza Parlor (Not in STL, but I remember eating at a Shakey’s in Oklahoma City in the 70s)
  • Dierdorf & Hart’s
  • Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria
  • The Parkmoor
  • Naugles
  • Lemmon’s

Others in the book that I really wish I’d tried include The Salad Bowl and Beffa Brothers Cafeteria.

From the ‘Entertainment’ section there are fewer that I’ve visited. I always meant to go to National Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, but I just didn’t get there before it closed & moved. I do think I went bowling once at Western Bowl that was at 4041 Bingham. I recall others before they were replaced by Walgreens.

None of the pools & roller rinks resinate with me. I’ve heard of the various amusement parks, but they were before my time. As far as ‘Attractions’ I recall seeing The National Coin-Op and Video Game Museum on Laclede’s Landing years ago. I also remember passing ‘The Elvis is Alive Museum’ in Wright City.

Oh ‘Excursion Boats’ is an area where I have regrets. I know by the time it was a casino The Admiral was no longer what it was back in the day — but why didn’t I go on it just once?

The ‘Nightclubs & Music Venues’ is another where most were before my time. Mississippi Nights was open until 2007, but I never went. I recall the Castle Ballroom building before it was razed.

The ‘Movie Theaters & Drive-Ins’ section includes many I’ve heard of or seen the outside of the building. I  recall seeing the Ambassador Theater  as it was being torn down, I pass by the Loew’s Orpheum Theater weekly.

In ‘Sports Venues’ I so wish I’d gone to something…anything…at The Arena. I’d love a time machine to go back and see a baseball game at Sportsman’s Park. While I have biked at the velodrome in  Penrose Park, the wooden St. Louis Motordrome that was at Grand & Meramec was gone long before I was born.

I’m a fan of food and grocery stores so the ‘Markets, Delis, & Grocers’ section is of particular interest. I’d heard of Bettendorf’s many times, but I don’t recall hearing about Rapp’s. I now live just blocks from the National Supermarkets where I shopped when I lived in Old North in the early 90s.

There are many more sections, all with great photos. You get the idea though, hours of great memories. This gorgeous hardcover coffee table book can be purchased directly from St. Louis publisher Reedy Press, St. Louis bookstore Left-Bank Books, from  Apotheosis Comics (if they still have it), and from you know where.  The latter has a nice preview.

Note that none of the links in this post are affiliate links — I make zilch if you click them.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — ‘Historic Missouri Roadsides, 2nd Edition’ by Bill Hart

July 26, 2019 Books, Featured, History/Preservation, Missouri Comments Off on New Book — ‘Historic Missouri Roadsides, 2nd Edition’ by Bill Hart

I’ve posted many times about day/weekend trips my husband and I have taken in small towns in Illinois & Missouri. Now we have a beautiful new hardcover book to guide us exploring more of Missouri. We especially like “two-lane” trips, as interstates are so boring.

Who hasn’t heard the call of the open road and felt the desire to get out of the city and see the beauty of the Show-Me State? Historic Missouri Roadsides offers all the history, recommendations, and itineraries you need to make the most of a picturesque trip down a two-lane road or highway. Richly illustrated with photographs from the author’s own collection, you’ll find tours of varying lengths, most beginning near Kansas City or St. Louis. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a local “staycationer,” you’ll want to check out these tours like Route 79 along the Mississippi River or El Camino Real leading down to the Missouri Bootheel. Don’t miss the Route 24 tour through Excelsior Springs and across the state into Ralls County or a chance to see the Osage Hills and Prairies in Laclede County. Find insider’s tips on the best locally owned businesses, restaurants, and lodging along the way with character and a hometown feel. The second edition of the book offers even more destination trips including Fulton, Sedalia, the Boonslick area, the Arcadia Valley, Glasgow, and St. Joseph. Bill Hart takes the wheel and shows you the very best of the roads from St. Charles County to old Route 66. Thumb a ride through this beautiful guide to enjoy all that small town Missouri has to offer. (Reedy Press)

I like the organization, with suggested groupings of towns and interesting back routes between them. Hart suggests using a free Missouri state map, or a printed atlas. I’ll stick to using maps on my phone connected to our car’s screen — with “avoid highways” turned on.  Each area has places to eat, stay, visit, and to do — very helpful. Often our trips are based on a cafe in a town many miles away from St. Louis. Food tourism.

Thumbing though the book & scanning the index I’ve learned so much about Missouri. For example, I can finally afford to visit Paris!  Paris…Missouri.  According to Wikipedia it was platted in 1831 and named after another Paris. Paris…Kentucky.

This hardcover bill is filled with many photographs. It’s available from St. Louis’ Left-Bank Books (in stock!), St. Louis-based publisher Reedy Press, Amazon, and others.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — ‘Vacant to Vibrant: Creating Successful Green Infrastructure Networks’ by Sandra L. Albro

July 19, 2019 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book — ‘Vacant to Vibrant: Creating Successful Green Infrastructure Networks’ by Sandra L. Albro

A new book I received earlier this year is about something St. Louis has in abundance — vacant lots.

Vacant lots, so often seen as neighborhood blight, have the potential to be a key element of community revitalization. As manufacturing cities reinvent themselves after decades of lost jobs and population, abundant vacant land resources and interest in green infrastructure are expanding opportunities for community and environmental resilience. Vacant to Vibrant explains how inexpensive green infrastructure projects can reduce stormwater runoff and pollution, and provide neighborhood amenities, especially in areas with little or no access to existing green space.

Sandra Albro offers practical insights through her experience leading the five-year Vacant to Vibrant project, which piloted the creation of green infrastructure networks in Gary, Indiana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Buffalo, New York. Vacant to Vibrant provides a point of comparison among the three cities as they adapt old systems to new, green technology. An overview of the larger economic and social dynamics in play throughout the Rust Belt region establishes context for the promise of green infrastructure. Albro then offers lessons learned from the Vacant to Vibrant project, including planning, design, community engagement, implementation, and maintenance successes and challenges. An appendix shows designs and plans that can be adapted to small vacant lots.

Landscape architects and other professionals whose work involves urban greening will learn new approaches for creating infrastructure networks and facilitating more equitable access to green space. (Island Press)

Here are the 6 chapters:

  1. Green Stormwater Infrastructure on Vacant Lots
  2. City Dynamics that Shape Vacant Land Use
  3. Vacant to Vibrant Planning
  4. Vacant to Vibrant Implementation
  5. Sustaining Urban Greening Projects
  6. Scaling Up Networks of Small Green Infrastructure

You can read an extensive preview of Vacant to Vibrant at Google Books.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — The Heart of the City: Creating Vibrant Downtowns for a New Century by Alexander Garvin

May 6, 2019 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book — The Heart of the City: Creating Vibrant Downtowns for a New Century by Alexander Garvin

Downtowns are often critical to the perception & success of entire regions, but making them vibrant isn’t always easy.

Downtowns are more than economic engines: they are repositories of knowledge and culture and generators of new ideas, technology, and ventures. They are the heart of the city that drives its future. If we are to have healthy downtowns, we need to understand what downtown is all about; how and why some American downtowns never stopped thriving (such as San Jose and Houston), some have been in decline for half a century (including Detroit and St. Louis), and still others are resurging after temporary decline (many, including Lower Manhattan and Los Angeles). The downtowns that are prospering are those that more easily adapt to changing needs and lifestyles.

In The Heart of the City, distinguished urban planner Alexander Garvin shares lessons on how to plan for a mix of housing, businesses, and attractions; enhance the public realm; improve mobility; and successfully manage downtown services. Garvin opens the book with diagnoses of downtowns across the United States, including the people, businesses, institutions, and public agencies implementing changes. In a review of prescriptions and treatments for any downtown, Garvin shares brief accounts—of both successes and failures—of what individuals with very different objectives have done to change their downtowns. The final chapters look at what is possible for downtowns in the future, closing with suggested national, state, and local legislation to create standard downtown business improvement districts to better manage downtowns.

This book will help public officials, civic organizations, downtown business property owners, and people who care about cities learn from successful recent actions in downtowns across the country, and expand opportunities facing their downtown. Garvin provides recommendations for continuing actions to help any downtown thrive, ensuring a prosperous and thrilling future for the 21st-century American city. (Island Press)

Here are the eight chapters from the contents.

Chapter 1: What is Downtown?
Chapter 2: Where is Downtown?
Chapter 3: How and Why Downtown America is Changing
Chapter 4. People Who Are Changing Downtown
Chapter 5. Organizations that are Changing Downtown
Chapter 6. Lessons for Any Downtown
Chapter 7. Emerging 21st Century Downtowns
Chapter 8. Creating Vibrant Downtowns for a New Generation

St. Louis is mentioned in two chapters: How and Why Downtown America is Changing & Lessons for Any Downtown.

In November 2016 I posted about another book by Alexander Garvin: What Makes A Great City

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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