Celebrating Blog’s 19th Anniversary


  Nineteen year ago I started this blog as a distraction from my father’s heart attack and slow recovery. It was late 2004 and social media & video streaming apps didn’t exist yet — or at least not widely available to the general public. Blogs were the newest means of …

Thoughts on NGA West’s Upcoming $10 Million Dollar Landscaping Project


  The new NGA West campus , Jefferson & Cass, has been under construction for a few years now. Next NGA West is a large-scale construction project that will build a new facility for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in St. Louis, Missouri.This $1.7B project is managed by the U.S. Army …

Four Recent Books From Island Press


  Book publisher Island Press always impresses me with thoughtful new books written by people working to solve current problems — the subjects are important ones for urbanists and policy makers to be familiar and actively discussing. These four books are presented in the order I received them. ‘Justice and …

New Siteman Cancer Center, Update on my Cancer


  This post is about two indirectly related topics: the new Siteman Cancer Center building under construction on the Washington University School of Medicine/BJC campus and an update on my stage 4 kidney cancer. Let’s deal with the latter first. You may have noticed I’ve not posted in three months, …

Recent Articles:

Racially Restrictive Covenants Ruled Unenforceable 75 Years Ago Today

May 3, 2023 Featured, History/Preservation, North City Comments Off on Racially Restrictive Covenants Ruled Unenforceable 75 Years Ago Today

At the beginning of the 20th century racism was thriving, though it took different forms in different places. The south had harsh ”Jim Crow” laws, lynchings, etc. Cities like St. Louis were less overt, but were still very racially segregated.

In 1916, St. Louisans voted on a “reform” ordinance that would prevent anyone from buying a home in a neighborhood more than 75 percent occupied by another race. Civic leaders opposed the initiative, but it passed with a two-thirds majority and became the first referendum in the nation to impose racial segregation on housing. After a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Buchanan v. Warley, made the ordinance illegal the following year, some St. Louisans reverted to racial covenants, asking every family on a block or in a subdivision to sign a legal document promising to never sell to an African-American. Not until 1948 were such covenants made illegal, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Shelley v. Kraemer, a case originating in St. Louis.

St. Louis Magazine
This house at 4600 Labadie was at the center of the case Shelley v Kraemer

Here’s a summary of the two cases the U.S. Supreme Court consolidated, the namesake is from St. Louis.

In 1945, an African-American family by the name of Shelley purchased a house in St. Louis, Missouri. At the time of purchase, they were unaware that a restrictive covenant had been in place on the property since 1911. The restrictive covenant prevented “people of the Negro or Mongolian Race” from occupying the property. Louis Kraemer, who lived ten blocks away, sued to prevent the Shelleys from gaining possession of the property. The Supreme Court of Missouri held that the covenant was enforceable against the purchasers because the covenant was a purely private agreement between its original parties. As such, it “ran with the land” and was enforceable against subsequent owners. Moreover, since it ran in favor of an estate rather than merely a person, it could be enforced against a third party. A similar scenario occurred in the companion case McGhee v. Sipes from Detroit, Michigan, where the McGhees purchased property that was subject to a similar restrictive covenant. In that case, the Supreme Court of Michigan also held the covenants enforceable.


Interesting the state courts in both Missouri & Michigan found the covenants enforceable. The local civil court ruled against the neighbors…on a technically. Not enough property owners had signed on to enact it.

On October 9, 1945, respondents, as owners of other property subject to the terms of the restrictive covenant, brought suit in the Circuit Court of the city of St. Louis praying that petitioners Shelley be restrained from taking possession of the property and that judgment be entered divesting title out of petitioners Shelley and revesting title in the immediate grantor or in such other person as the court should direct. The trial court denied the requested relief on the ground that the restrictive agreement, upon which respondents based their action, had never become final and complete because it was the intention of the parties to that agreement that it was not to become effective until signed by all property owners in the district, and signatures of all the owners had never been obtained.


With this 1948 decision many whites decided to leave north city for north county.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.

St. Louis Roots: Andy Cohen

May 2, 2023 Events/Meetings, Featured, History/Preservation, North City Comments Off on St. Louis Roots: Andy Cohen

This Friday, May 5th 2023, St. Louis native Andy Cohen will get a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame:

The late-night TV talk show host and executive producer will be inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame at 5 p.m. Friday, May 5. A live ragtime band will begin performing at 4:30 p.m. 

The ceremony is free to the public and will take place in front of the Moonrise Hotel at 6177 Delmar in The Loop.

Cohen was born and raised in St. Louis and graduated from Clayton High School in 1986. He is best known as the host and executive producer of Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.” He was also an executive producer for “The Real Housewives” franchise and hosted numerous specials. 


Cohen’s roots in St. Louis go back a very long time, as detailed in January 2021 on PBS’ program Finding Your Roots (Against all Odds, S7E2). NPR’s Nina Totenburg was the other guest.

If you missed this episode, or want to watch it again, it will be shown again tonight on Finding Your Roots, 9.1 7pm CST in St. Louis.

In the above clip Cohen reads about a paternal great great grandfather, Russian peddler Simon Kruvant, injured in a horse/carriage accident in 1889 at South Broadway & Koeln Avenue. We also learned Kruvant and his wife lived at 1122 N. 7th Street.

1122 North 7th Street was a one story non-residential building, seen here in a 1909 Sanborn Fire Insurance map. Either the newspaper article gave the wrong address, or this immigrant couple were living in a commercial space.

Given that Kruvant was a peddler a commercial space with room for goods, cart, and horse makes sense. This wasn’t in the Post-Dispatch archives so it must’ve been another newspaper.

The red arrow center toward the bottom shows where 1122 N 7th was. Pink is masonry, yellow is wood frame. Neighbors include industrial, tenements, and Father Dempsey’s Men’s Hotel.

To see this map page in detail click here.

Today 1122 North 7th Street is part numerous vacant blocks just north of the dome.

This area was known as Near North for a long time, but officially it is part of Columbus Square. Before Neighborhoods Gardens and Cochran Gardens were built the neighborhood contained the highest concentration of tenements in the city.

This neighborhood welcomed the poorest immigrants, including: Irish, Jewish, Italian, and blacks escaping the Jim Crow south.

See Andy Cohen tonight on Finding Your Roots and receiving his star Friday in front of the Moonrise Hotel.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.

April 2023 Election Results Sets New 14-Member Board of Aldermen

April 5, 2023 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on April 2023 Election Results Sets New 14-Member Board of Aldermen

St. Louis voters have selected their candidates for our new 14 wards, cut in half from the 28 wards for more than a century.

St. Louis City Hall

Of the 28 the following aldermen didn’t run this year:

  • Dwinderlin Evans (4th ward)
  • Christine Ingrassia (6th ward)
  • Jack Coatar (7th ward)
  • Annie Rice (8th ward)
  • Dan Guenter (9th ward)
  • James Lappe (11th ward)
  • Bill Stephens (12th ward)
  • Carol Howard (14th ward)
  • Jesse Todd (18th ward)
  • Marlene Davis (19th ward)

The following aldermen ran, but were defeated in the March primary:

  • Michael J. Gras was the 28th ward alderman, coming in a very close 3rd in a 3-way primary in the new 9th ward.
  • Lisa Middlebrook was the 2nd ward alderman, but was defeated in a 3-way race against two other existing aldermen in the new 13th ward.
  • Brandon Bosley (3rd ward) and James Page (5th ward) were defeated in a 4-way primary race in the new 14th ward.

The following aldermen were defeated in Tuesday’s general election:

  • Joe Vaccaro, longtime conservative alderman in the 23rd ward, was defeated by 24th ward alderman Bret Narayan in the new 4th ward.
  • Tina Pihl was 17th ward alderman, losing to Michael Browning in the new 9th ward.
  • In the new 13th ward Norma Walker, recently elected to fill the 22nd ward seat, was defeated by 27th ward alderman Pamela Boyd.

Two former aldermen lost in their attempts to return to the board: Ken Ortmann & Jennifer Florida.

State Rep Rasheen Aldridge thankfully defeated Hubbard dynasty candidate Ebony Washington. Aldridge will resign as state rep to be sworn in as 14th ward alderman. A special election will be held to fill the state rep seat — hopefully a Hubbard won’t be elected.

The new 14-member board of aldermen will be:

  • 1) Anne Schweitzer* (13th)
  • 2) Thomas Oldenburg* (16th)
  • 3) Shane Cohn* (25th)
  • 4) Bret Narayan* (24th)
  • 5) Joseph Vollmer* (10th)
  • 6) Daniela Velazquez
  • 7) Alisha Sonnier
  • 8) Cara Spencer* (20th)
  • 9) Michael Browning
  • 10) Shameem Hubbard* (26th)
  • 11) Laura Keys* (21st)
  • 12) Sharon Tyus* (1st)
  • 13) Pamela Boyd* (27th)
  • 14) Rasheen Aldridge

So ten of the fourteen aldermen were reelected (marked with *, followed by their pre-2023 ward number), with only four being entirely new to the board. With Aldridge, the board will now have two openly LGBTQ members, joining Cohn.

Fifty percent are people of color (PoC), and one more than half are women. When you include the board president, comptroller, and mayor this is the first time in the 259-year history of the city that women and people of color will be in charge — long overdue!

I believe it is the new aldermen representing the even-numbered wards that will start with 4-year terms — those representing odd-numbered wards will initially have only a 2-year term. In 2025 the odd-numbered wards will hold elections for 4-year terms.

Voters also approved Proposition C establishing a Charter Commission to propose charter amendments to voters. I strongly recommend language changes to eliminate the March primary — with instant runoff/ranked-choice voting in every April in races with 3+ candidates. We shouldn’t have to go the polls just 4 weeks apart!

A 3% tax on recreational/adult-use cannabis was approved in the city, and in St. Louis County. Though I’m a supporter of legal cannabis, I’m among those who voted yes because these jurisdictions will need to provide city services.

Sadie Weiss and Tracy Hykes were elected to the board of education, Nicole Robinson defeated incumbent Pam Ross for a trustee seat on the community college board. Voters approved the DeBaliviere special business tax district.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.

BREAKING! New MLS Stadium Sponsor to be Announced Monday

April 1, 2023 Featured, MLS Stadium Comments Off on BREAKING! New MLS Stadium Sponsor to be Announced Monday

Last year ST LOUIS CITY SC, the latest MLS expansion team, announced a stadium naming partner only to announce later that deal fell through.

The downtown-based home of St. Louis CITY SC is now known as Centene Stadium, it was announced Tuesday.

The expansion club, which will become Major League Soccer’s 29th team upon competing in 2023, has entered a 15-year naming rights partnership with the multi-national healthcare enterprise.

mlssoccer.com February 15, 2022

The team released a slick video via Twitter:

A little over 6 months later, Centene was out!

ST. LOUIS — Centene Corp. has backed out as the naming sponsor for the new Major League Soccer stadium here, just eight months after striking the deal.

St. Louis City SC’s stadium will now be called CITYPARK, the team said Tuesday, and it is searching for a new naming sponsor.
The Clayton-based health insurer’s decision marks the first major upheaval among the team’s corporate sponsors that include some of St. Louis’ most well-known businesses, such as Anheuser-Busch and Purina.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The thrilling home matches have been at CITYPARK — yes, all caps. According to sources today a new stadium sponsor will be announced Monday.

Dirt Cheap’s mascot Clucky promoting the Blues NHL team. Monday expect to see Clucky outfitted in STL City SC kit! Fun fun!

Another well-known St. Louis company has stepped up. The new name will be, ironically, Dirt Cheap Stadium. MLS rules prohibited it from being called Dirt Cheap Beer & Cigarettes Stadium. Carol House Furniture was a close second.

This is sort of in the family. STL CITY SC’s main owners are related to the late Andy Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Dirt Cheap Beer & Cigarettes was founded by Paul Taylor, Andy’s 2nd cousin. Not to be confused with Andy’s late brother Paul.

Note, the person many of us remembers from Dirt Cheap commercials was not founder Paul Taylor, but employee Fred Teutenberg.

Enjoy tonight’s home match hosting Minnesota United FC at CITYPARK. In two weeks we’ll host FC Cincinnati at Dirt Cheap Stadium…even though tickets, food, beverage are anything but dirt cheap.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.

April 4th General Election Ballot

March 23, 2023 Education, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on April 4th General Election Ballot

The St. Louis general election is just around the corner, Tuesday April 4, 2023. Early (no excuse absentee) voting is open now. I’ve voted absentee by mail.

Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

In the March 7th primary we all had the one candidate race for President of the Board of Aldermen and races for all 14 wards — the first reduction from 28. The election has those races, plus two propositions, school board, and community college trustee. You can view the sample ballot here.

I’m not going to go through the aldermanic races, you probably know those. Instead I want to draw your attention to the other races you didn’t see during the primary. First, two propositions:

Shall Article V of the City of St. Louis Charter be amended to establish a Charter 17 Commission which shall:Consist of nine registered city voters free of conflicts of
interest recommended by members of the Board of Aldermen, nominated by the Mayor of the City of St. Louis, and confirmed by the full Board of Aldermen.

Be appointed on August 15, 2023, and every ten years thereafter, or upon the certification of a petition signed by five percent of city registered voters who voted in the last general election for mayor, and discharge its duties and cease to exist within one year of its first public meeting.

Solicit public input and consult experts to consider revisions
to the City Charter, and, in accordance with the provisions of
the Missouri Constitution, submit proposed amendments to the qualified voters for approval, which amendments shall go into effect subject to a three-fifths vote in favor. YES – FOR THE PROPOSITION

From sample ballot

I think it makes sense to continually look at the charter for areas to improve. If approved they could start with replacing our every other year primary & general elections with a single ranked-choice/instant runoff election for races with 3+ candidates.

The other proposition on the ballot is related to Missouri’s new adult-use recreational cannabis sales — specifically a local tax.

(Additional Sales Tax on Retail Sale of Adult Use Marijuana)
Shall the City of St. Louis impose an additional sales tax of three percent (3 percent) on the retail sale of adult use non- medical marijuana?

From sample ballot

Again, I voted yes because 3% is a small amount and it’ll help pay for local municipal services. This tax isn’t applicable to those of us with medical cannabis cards.

Lastly there’s three candidates for two 4-year terms on the St. Louis Board of Education and two candidates for one 6-year term as a trustee of the St. Louis Community College. Voters in DeBaliviere Place are also voting on a special taxing district.

For more information on this election and early/absentee voting see the Board of Elections. Another great source is Ballotpedia.

— Steve
St. Louis urban planning, policy, and politics @ UrbanReviewSTL since October 31, 2004. For additional content please consider following on Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, and/or Twitter.