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Remembering A Fall Day In Wine Country

January 10, 2014 Featured, Travel 1 Comment

Being stuck inside for days is making me a bit stir crazy. We drove to Culinaria on Tuesday, but riding in a car from one parking garage to another isn’t the same has being outside. When this happens I go back and look at look at photos at warmer times.

In late October my boyfriend and I rented a car and did a one day tour of the area around Augusta MO.  Come  along…

The Daniel Boone Home and Heritage Center was our first stop.  Click image for website.
The Daniel Boone Home and Heritage Center was our first stop. The house was built by Boone’s son between 1803-1810. Click image for website.
I couldn't physically tour the Boone home so I stayed at the gift shop in the carriage house on the right.
I couldn’t physically tour the Boone home so I stayed at the gift shop in the carriage house on the right.
This was our view at lunch on the deck at Montelle Winery.  Click image for website.
This was our view at lunch on the deck at Montelle Winery, looking west toward Augusta. Click image for website.
We drove past my favorite house in Augusta, a tiny little place right on the street corner. Augusta was funded in 1836, click image for the Wikipedia entry,
We drove past my favorite house in Augusta, a tiny little place right on the street corner. Augusta was funded in 1836, click image for the Wikipedia entry,
We enjoyed beer & live music on the terraced Bier Garden at the Augusta Brewery. Click for website.
We enjoyed beer & live music on the terraced Bier Garden at the Augusta Brewery. Click for website.
The view at Mount Pleasant Estates, click for website.
The view at Mount Pleasant Estates, click for website.
In Washington MO we went  down next to the Missouri River. Click to view Washington's tourist website
In Washington MO we went down next to the Missouri River.
Click to view Washington’s tourist website
New townhouses on Front St in downtown Washington, click for website.
New townhouses on Front St in downtown Washington, the development also includes some storefronts, click for website.
Dinner was comfort food at Cowan's Restaurant in downtown Washington MO, click for website
Dinner was comfort food at Cowan’s Restaurant in downtown Washington MO, click for website

It was a long and exhausting day, a great memory to help me cope with being stuck at home. This was a perfect day trip for the fall colors but it’ll be nice this spring & summer.

— Steve Patterson

 

Day Trips Are A Nice Getaway

A week ago my boyfriend and I thought it was such a nice day, we should go do something.  We’d bought a Living Social voucher for two to see the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower in Hartford IL, just a 30 minute drive north on Route 3.

This post is about the wonderful day trip that we ended up having through several counties in Illinois, two ferry rides, and returning to Missouri through St. Charles County.

As you approach the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower
As you approach the Lewis and Clark Confluence Tower
Cyclists on the trail on top of the levee
Cyclists on the trail on top of the levee
From the top level of the tower (150 feet high) you get a great view of the confluence of the Mississippi & Missouri rivers.
From the top level of the tower (150 feet high) you get a great view of the confluence of the Mississippi & Missouri rivers.
We didn't stop in Alton but we stopped just north to see the Piasa, click image for more info
We didn’t stop in Alton but we stopped just north to see the Piasa image on the limestone, click image for more info
The Village of Elsah is one of my favorite stops along the River Road, click image for more info
The Village of Elsah is one of my favorite stops along the River Road, DFS liked it too!  Click image for more info
We took the scenic drive through Pere Marquette State Park, click image for more info
We took the scenic drive through Pere Marquette State Park, click image for more info
On the Golden Eagle Ferry from Calhoun Co IL to St. Charles Co MO
On the Golden Eagle Ferry from Calhoun Co IL to St. Charles Co MO

We both took many more pictures on our 5+ hour unplanned adventure. I say unplanned because I didn’t think beyond the Tower, we barely had enough cash on us for the mixed berry cobbler at The Cultured Table Bistro in Elsah plus the ferry into St. Charles Co, the Brussels Ferry is free.

We had a great day for very little money! We’re in Springfield IL this weekend, but later this fall I’m going to the DFS on a wine country tour through Augusta & Washington. What’s your favorite day trip from St. Louis?

— Steve Patterson

 

A Sign That Was Worth Saving

September 7, 2013 Featured, Travel 2 Comments

Sometimes a sign is worth saving, in Tulsa just such a sign was worth the trouble & expense. Plus the building it sat on too!

In the 1930’s, Meadow Gold put it up atop a small building at 11th and Lewis. It was a beacon along Route 66 until sometime in the 1970’s. “It’s more than just a sign, it lives in people’s hearts and memories it truly is a landmark,” said Lee Anne Ziegler. A few years ago the owner of the building on which the sign rested decided to tear the building down. The Tulsa Foundation for Architecture and others mounted a sign rescue project. They got a grant from the National Parks Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program. They were able to take the sign down and begin restoration. Other grants and donations helped finish the project. (source)

Former Meadow Gold Dairy building was relocated, used as an open-air Route 66 marker.
Former Meadow Gold Dairy sign & the building it was located on were relocated, now used as an
open-air tribute to Tulsa’s Route 66 history.
Inside kiosks offer information on Meadow Gold Dairy, Route 66, the relocation & restoration process, and Tulsa's connection to the famous route
Inside kiosks offer information on Meadow Gold Dairy, Route 66, the relocation & restoration process, and Tulsa’s connection to the famous route
Center of the floor
Center of the floor
Downtown Tulsa a couple of miles to the west on East 11th Street
Downtown Tulsa a couple of miles to the west on East 11th Street

I took these images in September 2009, about 5 months after this opened. I had decided to drive Route 66 from the Oklahoma border to Oklahoma City, much more interesting than I-44.

The new location is 9/10th of a mile west of the original. I like the sign and the windowless building, makes an interesting stop for those seeing Route 66 sites.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Walgreens Opens Inside a Historic Bank, Rather Than Raze It

August 12, 2013 Featured, Retail, Travel 23 Comments

Competition is heating up as retailers try to add locations in an effort to avoid stagnant sales growth. Having saturated suburban markets with their standard formula, they’ve been trying to do the same as they move into the urban core. Cities, more dense and often filled with vacant historic buildings, present new challenges to big retailers with one-size-fits-all formulas.

More than a dozen years ago a small group of citizens, myself among them, helped block Walgreens from razing the South Side National Bank (SSNB) at Grand & Gravois. “Put a Walgreens in the old bank”, we said to Walgreens officials. Unwilling to listen, they built a typical store across Gravois, but not on the corner.

Lobby of the South Side National Bank on  2/28/2006
Lobby of the South Side National Bank on 2/28/2006

The Lawrence Group bought the SSNB, putting residential condos in the tower. Much of the retail space, including the magnificent lobby, remains vacant today.

A few years after attempting to raze the SSNB, Walgreens tried to raze the Gold Dome in Oklahoma City, located at NW 23rd & Classen.

The 1958 Citizens State Bank in Oklahoma City is commonly known as the Gold Dome, click image for Wikipedia article.
The 1958 Citizens State Bank in Oklahoma City is commonly known as the Gold Dome

Walgreens was again met with citizen opposition:

Efforts to save the Gold Dome included picketing and marches, but in September 2001, a couple extended the efforts by writing a song. Also, an Oklahoma based company, Sonic Drive-In restaurants, offered up a billboard, located across the street from the Gold Dome, to the Citizens for the Golden Dome group. On the billboard was written “Stop the demolition of our historic landmark,” as well as the phone numbers for Bank One and Walgreens. (Wikipedia)

Today the Gold Dome is a central part of the neighborhood, now heavily inhabited by Chinese and other Asian nationalities, housing numerous businesses. Across one street is a typical CVS and across the other is a typical Walgreens, on the site of a former Beverly’s “Chicken in the Rough” restaurant.

In both cases a historic structure was saved, but the neighborhood was degraded by a standard suburban box(s). Both St. Louis & Oklahoma City didn’t care about anything besides the historic structure, or they were afraid to require something other than the standard prototype.

Fast forward a decade and we can look to a new Walgreens in Chicago that shows the retailer is willing to rethink their store design rather than forcing their standard box into a neighborhood. On a recent trip to Chicago this Walgreens was our first stop.

The former Noel State Bank is now a flagship Walgreens in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area of Chicago
The former Noel State Bank is now a flagship Walgreens in the Wicker Park/Bucktown area of Chicago

In the 45 minutes we were on site I took 70 pictures, my boyfriend quickly understood why a Walgreens was the first place I wanted to visit on our first trip to Chicago together:

The uber-fancy flagship is part of a plan by Walgreens–now the nation’s largest drugstore–to cater to a higher tax bracket while giving its more than 100-year-old brand a dose of modern edge.

Walgreens has recently launched several “upscale” stores, including a multi-level flagship in downtown Chicago and a massive concept store on L.A.’s Sunset Blvd.

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, the opening of the latest flagship, nestled between the Windy City’s trendy Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhoods, will be followed by roughly 10 more upscale stores stores in locations ranging from Hawaii to the Empire State Building in New York. (Huffington Post)

The upstairs mezzanine level is like a high-end department store cosmetics area
The upstairs mezzanine level is like a high-end department store cosmetics area
The basement level contains the pharmacy, over the counter medicines, and...
The basement level contains the pharmacy, over the counter medicines, toiletries, and…
...vitamins! Walgreens cleverly reused the old vault for additional retail space
…vitamins! Walgreens cleverly reused the old vault for additional retail space
The chef prepares sushi while others get a beverage from the juice bar, frozen yogurt is in the background left
The chef prepares sushi while others get a beverage from the juice bar, frozen yogurt is in the background left

Now you might be thinking sure, in Chicago…developers are so much more enlightened in Chicago. Not so:

Many many years ago what is the Nobel Bank Building located at 1601 N. Milwaukee Avenue was, in fact, a bank. And more recently the building was the home of Midwest Bank; a full-service library quiet bank filled with friendly staff.

Several years ago, the building was bought by an investor with plans to add retail to that corner. His plans, however, were also contingent upon adding a massive parking garage right at the corner of North/Damen/Milwaukee. You can only imagine what that would have done to the traffic and congestion already filling the area. The end result would have been gridlock. Alderman Waguespak, thankfully, would not approve of the garage. So the investor abandoned the project.

The building sat vacant bordering on foreclosure. (source)

Developers, even those in Chicago, think massive parking garages are necessary in dense urban neighborhoods served by transit. True, even this Walgreens has an off-street parking lot.

The lot has six regular spaces plus one disabled space, out of view to the left. That's it!
The lot has six regular spaces plus one disabled space, out of view to the left. That’s it! No drive through pharmacy either.
The busy corner has pedestrians, cyclists, and lots of auto traffic. The Walgreens is on the left.
The busy corner has pedestrians, cyclists, and lots of auto traffic. The Walgreens is on the left.

Chicago knows to not let auto-centric developers gut their neighborhoods, thereby achieving a balance among users. We’ve had decades of gutting our neighborhoods for parking, we must now reverse course.

Kudos to Walgreens on this store!

— Steve Patterson

 

County Market Near Downtown Springfield IL Retrofits A Pedestrian Route

In March I posted about a new grocery store on the edge of downtown Springfield IL (map) that anticipated many customers on foot, but they expected these pedestrians to either use the automobile driveways or walk over curbs and through grass & lots of parking.  A few days after my post, Springfield Journal-Register columnist Dave Bakke wrote Some criticisms of Springfield justified mentioning my criticism, later Bakke followed up with Critique of Springfield’s image touches nerve.

Here's what customers leaving the entrance facing Carpenter see now.
Here’s what customers leaving the entrance facing Carpenter see now.
Back in March the New County Market near downtown Springfield didn't have a route for pedestrians to/from the public sidewalk.
Back in March the New County Market near downtown Springfield didn’t have a route for pedestrians to/from the public sidewalk. The only provision was to reach disabled parking.

From this angle the change isn’t significant, no paint on asphalt will keep a distracted driver from hitting a pedestrian.  But look out toward the street and you’ll see new concrete.

From the public sidewalk you can see the new route they added.
From the public sidewalk you can see the new route they added so pedestrians don’t have to compete with cars.

I appreciate the after the fact gesture, but this is a good example why pedestrian access, just like automobile access, must be planned from the beginning. The new concrete walk does not meet ADA guidelines, it is too steep in places. I didn’t have my digital level with me on our Mother’s Day trip, but I could tell by walking it.

This route shown above is a consolation prize for pedestrians, it connects to Carpenter St only, not to 2nd St. Even if they retrofitted a route to 2nd it still wouldn’t be considered pedestrian-friendly. As I pointed out in my original post, the County Market in Champaign-Urbana is the model that should’ve been built in Springfield. It was built on a corner with direct access from both sidewalks. It also has a parking lot behind the building, with another entrance. Same number of entrances as the Springfield location, just arranged so customers arriving on foot or car are equally accommodated.

From the mezzanine you can see the route able-bodied pedestrians will likely take, cutting across the parking lot at a diagonal.
From the mezzanine you can see the route able-bodied pedestrians will likely take, cutting across the parking lot at a diagonal.

Springfield, like St. Louis and most cities, should not allow parking between the public sidewalk and buildings in areas where they seek to be pedestrian-friendly. In all other areas where public sidewalks are present/required they should require developers to actually connect to them. Public sidewalks are not window dressing, people actually use them.

If motorists were treated like pedestrians, no parking lot would have a driveway connecting to the public street. You’d be forced to drive over multiple curbs and through grass. All cars could be able to enter & exit, but 4X4 vehicles would have an easier time. While people could use parkings lot this way, they’d soon realize it wasn’t friendly and is potentially  damaging their vehicle. Those with high-clearance SUVs wouldn’t understand why a person driving a vintage MG Midget would complain, besides how often do you see one of those on the road… Why build costly driveways for the few people who have low cars?

Municipal zoning & building codes in cities coast to coast go to great lengths to detail every aspect of our arrival at developments by car: driveways, width of aisles, parking space dimensions, number of spaces, etc. Few say a word about arrival on foot.

It is no wonder so few people walk given our built environment.

— Steve Patterson

 

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