St. Patrick’s Day Myths; Early St. Louis Irish History

 

 Top o’ the mornin’ to ya. I knew the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was going to have a low response, the more controversial the subject, the more responses. Q: Agree or disagree: Irishman Saint Patrick is celebrated today for bringing Christianity to Ireland, driving out snakes. Strongly agree: 1 [6.67%] Agree: 3 [20%] …

Activity at the Bottle District Site

 

 The eastern edge of my new neighborhood, Columbus Square, has been known as “The Bottle District” since 2004. In 2004, longtime neighborhood business McGuire Moving and Storage Company, announced plans to redevelop the district as an entertainment destination. Noted architect Daniel Libeskind was hired to design the district. The Ghazi …

A St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Poll

 

 The downtown parade was yesterday, the Ancient Order of Hibernians parade is today in dogtown. St. Louis has a long history of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: On March 17, 1820, a small band of Irish settlers gathered to praise St. Patrick. It was the first recorded observance of St. Patrick’s …

New Book — St. Louis Sound: An Illustrated Timeline by Steve Pick with Amanda E. Doyle

 

 I like music — I have a decent music collection (digital & vinyl), but I’ve never been to a concert. Well, I did see & hear Bonnie Raitt and many others at the New Orleans Jazz Fest in 2004. Though I’ve lived in St  Louis for 28+ years, I haven’t …

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Sunday Poll: Would You Take Amtrak If St. Louis Union Station Was Still Used For Trains?

November 18, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Would You Take Amtrak If St. Louis Union Station Was Still Used For Trains?
 
Please vote below

It has been over four decades since Amtrak stopped using St. Louis Union Station for passenger rail.  When it opened in 1894, replacing the original St. Louis Union Station, it had 42 tracks.

At its height, the station combined the St. Louis passenger services of 22 railroads, the most of any single terminal in the world. In the 1940s, it handled 100,000 passengers a day. The famous photograph of Harry S. Truman holding aloft the erroneous Chicago Tribune headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman”, was shot at the station as Truman headed back to Washington, D.C., from Independence, Missouri, after the 1948 Presidential election. (Wikipedia)

Amtrak, formed in 1971, used the station until a “temporary” station could be built along the tracks to the East. That began in 1978. There was a period where the Union Station’s main “headhouse” wasn’t used but trains still used the shed — the design allowed access to tracks without going through the main building.

I first came to St. Louis just 12 years after passenger rail service ended at Union Station. I had just traveled by train from Union Station in Washington DC though Union Station in Chicago to a tiny station in Kansas. There I caught a Greyhound bus back to Oklahoma City where I got my car and drove to St. Louis to take up permanent residence. However, passenger rail service had been in decline since before I was born. Interstate highways & air travel made rail service seem obsolete — hence the government’s consolidation of numerous rail companies to create Amtrak.

For 40 years rail service has been at locations other than St. Louis Union Station.  Does this make a difference when deciding how to travel?

Today’s non-scientific poll will close automatically at 8pm tonight. Wednesday I’ll have more on this topic.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 24 of 2018-2019 Session

November 16, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 24 of 2018-2019 Session
 
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 24th meeting of the 2018-2019 session.

Today’s agenda includes nine (9) new bills:

  • B.B.#161 – Ingrassia – An ordinance pertaining to Special Use Districts; establishing The Lafayette Square Area Special Use District and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#162 – Rice – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 4102 Shaw Blvd.
  • B.B.#163 – Howard – An Ordinance amending Ordinance 66384, approved July 31, 2004, as follows: Section 1 of Ordinance 66384 is amended by adding a new subsection, subsection 10.04.145, to be titled Animals Putting Persons in Fear; and Section 1, subsection 10.04.170, of Ordinance 66384 is repealed, and in enacted in lieu thereof shall be a new subsection 10.04.170, to be titled Adoption of Strays; and Section 1, subsection 10.04.270, of Ordinance 66384 is repealed, and enacted in lieu thereof shall be a new subsection 10.04.27, to be titled Dangerous Dogs; and Section 1, subsection 10.04.285, of Ordinance 66384, is repealed and enacted in lieu thereof there shall be a new subsection 10.04.285, to be titled, Tethering, confinement and treatment of dogs and cats on owner/guardian’s property; and Section 1 of Ordinance 66384 is amended by the addition of a new subsection, subsection 10.04.115, to be titled, Relinquishment of owned dogs and cats to the animal regulation center; and Section 1, subsection 10.04.165 of Ordinance 66384 is repealed and enacted in lieu thereof a new subsection 10.04.165, to be titled, Neuter Assistance and Education Fund; and Section 1 of Ordinance 66384 is amended by the addition of a new subsection, subsection 10.04.360, to be titled, Interfering with a
    Health Officer or Agent; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#164 – J. Boyd – An Ordinance amending Section 2 of Ordinance 68604, approved March 16, 2010, and codified in Title 20.12 of the Revised Code, by adding a new subsection to Section 2, Section 20.12.025, to Ordinance 68604, to be titled “Naming and Re-naming of Streets in Public Parks”.
  • B.B.#165 – Davis – Pursuant to Ordinance 68937, an ordinance authorizing the honorary street name Cedric The Entertainer Way, which shall begin at the intersection of Olive Street and North Vandeventer and run east on Olive Street to the intersection of Olive Street and North Spring Avenue.
  • B.B.#166 – Roddy – An ordinance determining that the Tax Increment Financing Plans listed in Exhibit “A” are making satisfactory progress under the proposed time schedule for completion of projects therein. WHEREAS, the Tax Increment Financing plans and projects listed in Exhibit “A” were approved by the Board of the Alderman.
  • B.B.#167 – Arnowitz – Pursuant to Ordinance 68937, an ordinance authorizing the honorary street name Estella M. Daly Way, which shall begin at the intersection of Morgan Ford Road and and Upton Court and run east on the 4100 Block of Upton Court to its end.
  • B.B.#168 – Spencer – An ordinance approving a Redevelopment plan for 3555-59 California.
  • B.B.#169 – Arnowitz – An ordinance authorizing and directing the Director of the City Department of Health to enter into and execute an Opioid Crisis Response Services Contract with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in order to help to fund some personnel costs, auto travel reimbursement and equipment/supplies for a Crisis Resource Response Team, upon approval of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment; and containing an emergency clause.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2017-2018 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

Opinion: Urban Design Only Works If Both Sides Of The Street(s) Are Also Urban

November 14, 2018 Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Opinion: Urban Design Only Works If Both Sides Of The Street(s) Are Also Urban
 

When I started this blog over 14 years ago I was of the belief that all corridors in the city should be urbanized as new development replaced old. Gradually the corridor would slowly become more urban — with newer buildings up to the street rather than set back behind a sea of parking. This has become the reality in a few places, mostly in the Central West End — but also in other places.

Arlington Grove has two 3-story buildings facing MLK in North St. Louis

The form is good, with active uses at the sidewalk level. So this helps to restore an urban feel to Martin Luther King Drive, right? No, because across the street is a typical suburban gas station & convenience store.

With this across MLK it’s impossible to create an urban street.

This came to mind Friday when Board Bill 157 was introduced for the redevelopment of the SE corner of Chouteau & Jefferson.

Looking East along Chouteau from Jefferson. The sheet metal workers building, on the left, is in Downtown West. The proposed redevelopment site, on the right is in Lafayette Square.

Lafayette Square has strict guidelines foe new construction, but given the suburban nature of both Jefferson & Chouteau it’s kinda hard to see the point of having only one of four corners be urban. Across Jefferson had some urban buildings until a few years ago.

Former buildings on the SW corner of Chouteau & Jefferson, in The Gate neighborhood.
A suburban QT now occupies a large site on the SW corner of Chouteau & Jefferson.

In the above image you can see the NW corner is no longer urban either. That corner, by the way, is in the Midtown neighborhood.

So we have a major intersection that’s mostly suburban in design — each corner in a different neighborhood. Only one of the four has urban design guidelines — but what’s the point in enforcing them when the other three corners are urban holes?

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll asked about development along major corridors such as Jefferson, Chouteau, etc:

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis should accept most major corridors, with the exception of a few, are largely auto-centric/suburban and will never be re-urbanized.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [4.17%]
  • Agree: 1 [4.17%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [8.33%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [4.17%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 7 [29.17%]
  • Disagree: 5 [20.83%]
  • Strongly disagree: 7 [29.17%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

Most disagreed with the statement, I used to be a “strongly disagree”, but now I’m barely a “somewhat disagree.”

Living in St. Louis foe 28+ years I’ve seen so much potential wasted as we constantly shoot ourselves in the foot with suburban development directly across from acceptable urban development. I just don’t see the political will to set guidelines that’ll eventually create great urban corridors. With this reality, it’s hard to be optimistic about St. Louis’ future.

— Steve Patterson

Thoughts on the Midterm Election

November 12, 2018 Drug Policy, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Thoughts on the Midterm Election
 
Most of the recreational marijuana stores we visited in Colorado in 2014 had a separate section for medical marijuana.

Among the biggest midterm election news is that deep red Missouri overwhelmingly approved the most liberal (Proposition 2) of three medical marijuana propositions, the other two failed (Prop 3 & Prop C). All 3 were described in a Sunday Poll in late September. In 2019 we’ll see rules for growers & dispensaries.  A year from now we should see storefronts fill up as dispensaries occupy them.

Missouri voters also approved a new redistricting plan with campaign limits (Proposition 1). The state’s minimum wage will now increase gradually to $12/hour by 2023.  A gradual fuel tax increase failed (Prop D).

St. Louis County voters approved all propositions:

  • 1 (donation limits to candidates for county executive or council)
  • 2 (County council can hire their own attorney separate from the county counselor, who is appointed by the county executive)
  • B (County council more budgetary power)
  • C (Require specific County financial information be placed online)
  • D (Establishing a commission to examine revising county charter)
  • F (A casino-backed smoking change)
  • Z (one-eighth of 1 percent sales tax for the Zoo)

St. Charles County passed their first smoke-free law, with exemptions.

Claire McCaskill lost her bid for a 3rd term in the US Senate. Though I voted blue, I know she wouldn’t have won a 2nd term in 2012 had Todd Aikn not mentioned “legitimate rape.”  This was a gift she didn’t receive this year.  As I watched her ads about being right in the middle I hated that I had to fill in bubble next to her name.

The middle is a point equidistant from two poles. That’s it. There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there. Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon. When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle? Rather than chattel slavery, perhaps we could agree on a nice program of indentured servitude? Instead of subjecting Japanese-American citizens to indefinite detention during WW II, what if we had agreed to give them actual sentences and perhaps provided a receipt for them to reclaim their things when they were released? What is halfway between moral and immoral?

When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle?

The search for the middle is rooted in conflict avoidance and denial. For many Americans it is painful to understand that there are citizens of our community who are deeply racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic. Certainly, they reason, this current moment is somehow a complicated misunderstanding. Perhaps there is some way to look at this–a view from the middle–that would allow us to communicate and realize that our national identity is the tie that will bind us comfortably, and with a bow. The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant than the issues over which we are sparring. (Time)

If Democrats want to win in Missouri they need to stop trying to be GOP Lite.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should All New Development in St. Louis be Urban or is Some Suburban OK?

November 11, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should All New Development in St. Louis be Urban or is Some Suburban OK?
 
Please vote below

A century ago St. Louis was highly walkable with an abundance of streetcar lines, but in the last 100 years we’ve widened streets, created major interstate highways, developed suburbs not served by commuter rail, etc. In the city buildings built up to the sidewalk have been replaced by buildings set back behind parking.

All this has taken a toll on the walkability of the city:

St. Louis has an average Walk Score of 65 with 319,294 residents.

St. Louis has some public transportation and is somewhat bikeable.

The most walkable St. Louis neighborhoods are Downtown, Benton Park West and Benton Park. (WalkScore)

WalkScore says “St. Louis is Somewhat Walkable: Some errands can be accomplished on foot.”  The site combines Downtown & Downtown West into one neighborhood called…Downtown (WalkScore is 89).  Many other neighborhoods are considered car-dependent.

Today’s poll is about going forward. Namely, should we try to add urban buildings when building new or should we only do so in a few areas that are currently urban/walkable?

Today’s non-scientific poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

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