What Should Replace the 1960s 7th Street Parking Garage?

 

  In 1961 the former Stix, Baer & Fuller department store began building a 900-car parking garage, attached to its downtown location via a skywalk over 7th Street. Six plus decades later the old Stix store contains apartments, hotel, a museum, and restaurants. The garage is now surrounded on 3 …

Recent Book — “Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It” by M. Nolan Gray

 

  Over a century ago a new idea called “zoning” began, intended to guide cities to grow in a less chaotic manner than they had until then. Reality, however, was very different. It’s time to let go, change. A recently published book explains the why & how. What if scrapping …

18th Anniversary of UrbanReviewSTL, Stage 4 Kidney Cancer Still “Stable”, Gathering Today Noon-2pm

 

  Eighteen years ago today I registered the domain UrbanReviewSTL.com and began blogging about urban planning in St. Louis. YouTube didn’t exist yet. Facebook was known as The Facebook, still limited to college students at many universities. My husband (m 2014) was barely a year out of high school. Some …

Former St. Liborius Church Complex Fits Beautifully in the Street Grid

 

  A major reason why I decided to make St. Louis my home back in August 1990 was the complex street grid and the buildings that neatly fit into it. One of the finest examples of fitting into our decidedly non-orthogonal street grid is the former St. Liborius Church complex, …

Recent Articles:

Hodiamont Streetcar Ended Service 55 Years Ago, Right-of-Way To Become Trail

May 21, 2021 Featured, Public Transit Comments Off on Hodiamont Streetcar Ended Service 55 Years Ago, Right-of-Way To Become Trail
 

Fifty-five years ago today the last streetcar ended service. That line was the Hodiamont. West of Vandeventer Ave. it ran on a private right-of-way, not mixed with vehicles on the street.

Looking East on the last eastern section of the Hodiamont Right-of-Way, 2012

For a time after the last streetcar Metro (then known as Bi-State Development Agency) ran a bus down the private strip.  The bus was a huge improvement over old fashioned streetcars — faster, quieter, flexible, etc.

Not sure when buses stopped using the Hodiamont right-of-way. Currently Great Rivers Greenway is working on making it a trail.

The Hodiamont Tracks were once the route of a streetcar line and in later years a bus route.  While the bus route is no longer active, the 3.5 mile corridor has the potential to become a greenway that would link the St. Vincent and the future Brickline Greenways. (GRG)

In the ideal world a new streetcar/light rail line would occupy this corridor as it snakes through neighborhoods.

I’d love to go back in time to ride the streetcars and see the neighborhoods at their peak. Of course, I’d also have to see the segregation of housing and transportation.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

I’m Fully Vaccinated, Will Continue Wearing A Mask In Public

May 20, 2021 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on I’m Fully Vaccinated, Will Continue Wearing A Mask In Public
 

Federal rules still require masks on buses, trains, boats and planes

The CDC says since I’m fully vaccinated I can go into public buildings without needing to wear a mask. Well, that’s the big overview leaving out important details. I’ll get to those but first a quick review of how we got to this point.

On Friday March 21, 2020 St. Louis Health Commissioner Dr. Frederick Echols  issued a stay at home order for the City of St. Louis, effective Monday March 23, 2020. A similar order was issued in St. Louis County. At this point masks weren’t required, but in hindsight they should’ve been.

On the day the stay at home order began St. Louis announced the first Covid-related death. On Friday the 27th and Monday 30th I had CT/Bone scans & cancer treatment at the Center for Advanced Medicine, respectively. Masks still weren’t required by Metro, BJC/Wash U, or the city.

On Friday April 3, 2020 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended the voluntary use of masks in public. The following Monday we received some homemade masks from my sister-in-law in California.  The next day, Tuesday April 7, 2020, I had minor outpatient surgery at the new Park Tower to install a power port in my chest to make my intravenous cancer treatments easier, masks were required. My husband wasn’t allowed to come back before and after the surgery even with a mask.

The following Saturday (4/11/2020) St. Louis first recommended the use of masks in public.  On July 1, 2020 St. Louis city & county issued a mask mandate.

I still don’t like masks, they pull on my ears and I have to remove my glasses as they fog over. However, I’m used to it now. We’ve eaten out numerous times during the pandemic, which we’ve enjoyed.

Last month the CDC said small groups of vaccinated people could gather, maskless. We got to visit and hug a friend on April 25, 2021, we hadn’t seen her in a over a year. A week ago today the CDC made a big announcement on masks.

People fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.  (CNN)

States, cities, and businesses began dropping their mask requirements — for fully vaccinated people. Masks are still required for public transportation (planes, trains, buses, etc), healthcare facilities, and such.

On Saturday we went to Costco in south county, some customers weren’t wearing masks. We were. Yesterday I went to Schnucks downtown, same thing. It feels weird being indoors with my unmasked strangers.

Just over 34 percent of St. Louis County residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19. That’s an increase of 2.5 percent in the past week.

In St. Louis City, more than 26.5 percent of people have finished their vaccinations. This is a jump of over 2 percent. (Fox2)

With such a low percentage fully vaccinated I wonder if non-vaccinated are using this as a way to shop without wearing a mask. I know the science says I’m still highly protected, but it’s not 100% guaranteed. I’m not immune compromised, but my immune system needs to stay focused on keeping my tumors from growing. For me it’s just not worth the risk, putting on a mask for a quick trip into a store is no big deal to me at this point. Most of the time when I leave home I take MetroLink to Siteman Cancer Center, so masks are required anyway.

If you’re not vaccinated please get the vaccine, it’s easy. I felt bad the day after my 2nd Pfizer shot, but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. I get if you’re hesitant, a friend in her early 70s who’s fearful of the vaccine. My brother-in-law doesn’t want to be a government “lab rat.”

I look forward to the day I can ride the bus, or get treatment without needing a mask.

— Steve Patterson

Thinking of Marti Frumhoff While Accepting My Own Mortality

May 16, 2021 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Thinking of Marti Frumhoff While Accepting My Own Mortality
 

Marti Frumhoff, 1957-2007

Fourteen years ago today St  louis booster Marti Frumhoff died unexpectedly. Three months earlier we’d celebrated our birthdays at the sushi restaurant that used to be at Grand & Arsenal. Our birthdays were ten years and 5 days apart — she turned 50 just five days before I turned 40.

Ms. Frumhoff also became an advocate for the revitalization of St. Louis. She organized and founded several groups that educate agents and prospective home buyers about city living.

She founded the St. Louis Rehabbers Club in 2000. The organization helps people network and share information about renovations and remodeling in the city.

Ms. Frumhoff was also a member of the “We Love the City” Realtors Breakfast Club. The “Big, Big Tour,” an annual tour of city neighborhoods highlighting homes for sale in various price ranges, grew out of that group.

Ms. Frumhoff was a board member of Metropolis St. Louis and a member of Save the Century, an effort to prevent the demolition of the Century Building downtown. (Findagrave)

Marti was home alone, likely had a heart attack. I’m not a fan of death rituals, but I liked how the huge crowd at the Jewish cemetary took turns shoveling dirt onto the casket.

A month before my 41st birthday I had a massive stroke, also while home along. At the time I was certain I’d die. It was 15-16 hours before a worried friend found me, but at least I was still alive.  I came back home from the 3rd therapy hospital three months later, barely able to walk.

I’d think about Marti as I wrote about issues facing St. Louis, asking myself “what would Marti do?” Had she lived no doubt she’d be involved in fighting to improve the city, and region.

In the Fall of 2019 I was diagnosed with stage IV renal cell carcinoma (aka kidney cancer). Stage IV means the cancer has metastasized — spread to other parts of the body. I’ve had twenty immunotherapy treatments so far, my scans still show the tumors as “stable”, though there’s now evidence it has spread to my bones. Another drug will be injected along with my regular intravenous drug to stop the spread in my bones, the downside is a high risk of osteoporosis.

For a while now I’ve been working on getting my affairs in order while also trying to enjoy the present. It’s a very weird balance. When my husband and I recently visited the Missouri Botanical Gardens it was a lovely day but I was thinking it could well be my last time there, same with other non-daily activities.

A few days ago a friend of more than two decades had a second stroke in a week, only a few knew about the first mini-stroke. He died at home, alone.

Hopefully I still have a few more years left before my time is up. Although it’s weird to know I’ll die sooner rather than later I’m very grateful to have time with my husband until then. Not a day goes by I don’t think about the luxury of having time to keep enjoying life, too many don’t get any advance notice.

— Steve Patterson

 

Water Main Break Underscores Need To Update Century Old Water System

May 13, 2021 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Water Main Break Underscores Need To Update Century Old Water System
 

You may have heard about a press conference last week at St. Louis’ Chain of Rocks water treatment  facility.

The 1913-1914 Chain of Rocks filters, left, and 1914 head house, right.

St. Louis and Environmental Protection Agency officials are calling for the passage of President Joe Biden’s jobs plan to help update the city’s water treatment system to continue to provide safe drinking water.

EPA officials and regional leaders toured the Chain of Rocks water treatment facility Wednesday. Officials have identified more than $400 million in upgrades necessary to renovate the city’s water treatment system to maintain clean drinking water. Biden’s American Jobs Plan includes $111 billion in water infrastructure upgrades across the country. (St. Louis Public Radio).

Other sources on the event:

Inside the very long filters building they had information explaining the filtration process.

A view of the filters without any signs.

This is where I’d planned to go off on some tangents, but since I started this post something related happened. A water main break in Downtown West that impacted the following neighborhoods: Downtown (central business district), Downtown West, Columbus Square, Carr Square, St. Louis Place (and NGA West site), and Old North St. Louis.

A 36-inch water main burst just west of downtown Tuesday, sending water gushing along Lucas Avenue and North Tucker Boulevard. The flooding swamped basements, shut down businesses and triggered a boil advisory. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

We were just slightly inconvenienced, but many lost work, customers, had serious property damage. St. Louis needs the American Jobs Plan to update our water system.

Ok, back to where I was in my post before Tuesday’s water main break.

The four speakers with St. Louis Water employees behind them, L to R: US Rep Cori Bush, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, and Water Commissioner Curtis B. Skouby.

Like all of Biden’s cabinet/cabinet-level they’re all fairly new to their positions. The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has great credentials, Michael Regan’s nomination was supported by environmental activists.

“Regan, who will be the first black man to run the EPA, tells Rolling Stone that rebuilding the agency is his first priority. “We have world-renowned experts at EPA,” he says. “We should be listening to them, and we will.” With the Biden administration vowing to use every bit of executive power to tackle climate change, a revitalized EPA will be at the center of its ambitious targets to reduce emissions. “I will be laser-focused on how we limit methane emissions,” Regan says of the potent greenhouse gas released in natural-gas operations. He lists environmental justice and water quality as his other priorities, but guiding his approach on all of these ambitions is the belief that what’s good for the planet can also be good for workers and for business — a conviction Biden shares. “All of those priorities that I just laid out will be good for people, the planet, and profit,” Regan says. His personal philosophy is one “of trying to meet people where they are, understand everyone’s challenges, whether it’s an individual or a company, and then think through, ‘How do you get to the solution in a way that can possibly work?’?”” (Rolling Stone)

In addition to hearing Regan I hadn’t seen Mayor Tishaura Jones or Rep Cori Bush since their election victories.  I’ve also known Jones’ public information officer, Nick Dunne, for years. Finally, I was very curious just to see the water treatment facility.

I got on the North Riverfront Trail right after it makes a hard right and crosses over a creek.

Initially I told the EPA person in DC I wouldn’t be able to attend because it was too far from public transit. The night before I thought perhaps I could take the bus up north and then use the North Riverfront Trail to reach the Chain of Rocks Water Treatment facility on Riverview. I knew the biggest challenge would be trying to cross Riverview. After studying Google street view I was able to find a route that might work, I wouldn’t know until I got there.

On the return trip I took this photo to show where I had to cross Riverview Blvd in my power wheelchair — rough gravel, no crosswalk, no light, big trucks. Thankfully only one lane per direction.

After making it across Riverview I turned left to head toward Metro’s bus transit center. A short distance without a sidewalk. Off roading in my chair!

I traveled by wheelchair roughly 5.5 miles round trip, mostly on the trail. It was gorgeous out Wednesday last week so I enjoyed the time, reminded me of when I used to bike the trail before my 2008 stroke.

I was so glad to see the water treatment facility and hear officials talk about investing in needed maintenance and environmental justice.

— Steve Patterson

 

Rampant COVID violations at Fast Eddie’s Bon Air freaked me out Saturday

May 4, 2021 Featured, Local Business, Metro East, St. Charles County, Travel Comments Off on Rampant COVID violations at Fast Eddie’s Bon Air freaked me out Saturday
 

We knew Saturday would be a gorgeous day so we decided to drive up the Great River Road along the Mississippi River north of Alton IL. Our first stop would be a favorite, Fast Eddie’s Bon Air. We knew it had been cited for Covid violations in October 2020:

A longtime and popular restaurant in Alton was recently cited for not complying with COVID-19 restrictions in the area.

Illinois State Police said based on a complaint, they did a COVID-19 compliance check on Fast Eddie’s Bon Air. Officers issued a notice of non-compliance to the manager on duty and advised them on a time frame to get into compliance, police said.

After about an hour, Illinois State Police officers returned and issued a dispersal order and then after another 30 minutes, officers returned and issued a Madison County non-traffic complaint. Police said the manager signed and accepted the written complaint on behalf of Fast Eddie’s. (KSDK)

That was over six months ago, they likely learned how to comply. Or so I thought. I was thinking maybe tables wouldn’t be spaced as far apart as they should be for proper social distancing. We’re both fully vaccinated so I thought we could take a chance.

We arrived before they opened so we’d be among the first to enter. This photo was taken at 10:55am, 5 minutes before the door was unlocked.

We were the third group in the door, but our order number was 2nd. A long line of bikers was behind us. Inside I got us a table while my husband ordered.

As I waited I began noticing how different this was than every other restaurant we’d patronized during the pandemic:

  • No employees are wearing masks. Not our drink server, not the manager walking around, not anyone behind the counter.
  • Customers are walking around inside without masks. No mask while ordering, finding a table, going to the bathroom, picking up their order.
  • Only a few other customers wore a mask.

I told my husband we had to eat quickly and leave. Had we not left quickly I’d have likely confronted the manager, which would have ruined the day we had planned.

Here’s a few pics from the rest of the beautiful day.

Downtown Alton IL is so charming, wonderful scale and the hills create interesting views. Click image for Downtown Alton website.

Next we drove through the historic village of Elsah IL– one of our favorites. Click image for Elsah tourism info.

We stopped at the Elsah General Store and got some baked goods for dessert, ate them outside. The shop owner wore a mask. They even accepted payment via ApplePay! Yes, click the image to view their website & hours.

When we reached the free Brussels Ferry we crossed the Illinois River. This ferry is operated by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Click image for more information.

I’ve done this trip numerous times over the last 30 years, but this was the first time I went a few miles out of our way to see Brussels IL. This is the village hall. Click the image to see the Wikipedia page, learn things like it was founded in 1822!

We continued driving through Calhoun County IL until we reached the Golden Eagle Ferry to cross the Mississippi River into St. Charles County MO. Click image for more information.

New Town at St. Charles was an easy stop as we headed for I-370. As predicted, it looks much better now that the trees have matured. Click the image for the official New Town website.

At the end of our day we stopped at a convenience store near New Town. The employee and some fellow customers were wearing masks, but customers came & went without any masks.

The pandemic is still going on, people are still getting sick & dying.

— Steve Patterson

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