Where They Lived: Page, Hathaway, and Spinks

 

 February is Black History Month and two recent celebrity deaths prompted me to do this post. I’ll begin with the opening lines to RuPaul’s 1992 dance hit Supermodel (You Better Work): [Spoken Intro: LaWanda Page and RuPaul] Once upon a time, there was a little black girl, in the Brewster …

New Book — ‘Candy Men: The Story of Switzer’s Licorice’ by Patrick Murphy

 

 Prior to this new book my only knowledge of Switzer Licorice was the 19th century building in Laclede’s Landing that collapsed during a wind storm in July 2006. The sweet smell of licorice and the giant candy bar painted on the factory wall at the Eads Bridge remain locked into …

Newish Book: ‘Growing Up In Old North St. Louis’, 2nd Edition by Patrick J. Kleaver

 

 I receive quite a few new books from publishers throughout each year, but late last year I received an email from a self-published author. Patrick Kleaver invited me to check out the 2nd edition of his book from the library. I’m interested in the perspectives of people who grew up …

I Was Partially Wrong About How Our Non-Partisan Elections Will Work

 

 I try to avoid making mistakes, but it does happen. I like to verify information before publishing these posts, but when I didn’t get an answer from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners I should’ve looked harder to find the answer. My apologies if my mistake caused any confusion. …

Recent Articles:

March 2nd Non-Partisan Ballot Is Set

January 12, 2021 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on March 2nd Non-Partisan Ballot Is Set
 
Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners at 208 South 12th Tucker) from February 1932 through December 1998. From my collection

Seven weeks from today, Tuesday March 2, 2021, St. Louis will hold its first non-partisan election for aldermen & mayor. Additionally, it’s the last election where half the aldermen means 14.

This year happens to be the odd-numbered wards up for election — to a special two-year term. A couple of even-numbered wards also have elections to fill an unexpired term. In two years the total number of aldermen will drop from 28 to 14, then 7 will get an initial 2-year term and 7 the usual 4-year terms. Once the census numbers are know  redistricting will begin.

Unlike past elections, the winners now must have more than 50% of the votes, so in a race with 3 or more candidates and nobody achieves the 50% threshold a runoff election will be held on April 6, 2021. Any runoff would be the top two candidates only. It’s unclear to me what would happen if two or more candidates tied for second place.

For decades partisan candidates paid a filing fee to the political party they were running for, usually Democrat. Independent candidates had to collect signatures to get on the general election ballot. Now every candidate is independent and must collect signatures to be included on the ballot. Some declared candidates are not on the ballot because their petitions didn’t contain enough signatures of registered voters.

Additionally this is the first time voters get to vote for more than one candidate in each race on their ballot.

Okay, let’s take a look at the races & candidates on the March 3rd ballot, here in reverse order:

WARD 27 — includes parts or all of: Walnut East & West, North Point, and Baden neighborhoods.

– Mary Ann Jackson is the only candidate. The incumbent is Pam Boyd.

WARD 25 — includes parts or all of: Carondelet, Dutchtown, and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods.

– Shane Cohn, the incumbent, is the only candidate. I ran for this seat 16 years ago, 4 years before Cohn won in 2009.

WARD 23 — includes parts or all of: Lindenwood Park, Ellendale, Clifton Heights, and North Hampton neighborhoods.

– Joseph A. Vaccaro, Jr., the incumbent, is the only candidate.

WARD 21 — includes parts or all of: Kingshighway East, Greater Ville, O’Fallon, Penrose, and College Hill neighborhoods. This ward has six (6) candidates and is the most likely to have a runoff election on April 6th.

– Laura Keys, current Democratic committeewoman
– Travon Brooks
– Melinda L. Long, a former alderwoman for this ward
– John Collin-Muhammad, current alderman
– Ticharwa Masimba
– Barbara Lane

WARD 19 — includes parts or all of: Shaw, Tiffany, The Gate District, Midtown, Vandeventer, and Covenant/Grand Center neighborhoods.

– Cleo Willis, Sr.
– Marlene E. Davis, incumbent

WARD 17 — includes parts or all of: Shaw, Botanical Heights, Tiffany, Midtown, Central West End, Forest Park Southeast, Kings Oak, and Cheltenham neighborhoods. Longtime alderman Joe Roddy announced last year he wouldn’t seek another term.

– Don De Vivo
– Tina Pihl
– Kaleena Menke
– Michelle Sherod

WARD 15 — includes parts or all of: Tower Grove South, Dutchtown, Gravois Park, Tower Grove East, and Benton Park West neighborhoods.

– Jennifer Florida, another former alderwoman running
– Alexander J. Gremp
– Megan Ellyia Green, incumbent

WARD 13 — includes parts or all of: Carondelet, Holly Hills, Boulevard Heights, Bevo Mill, Princeton Heights, Southampton, and Dutchtown neighborhoods.

– Anne Schweitzer
– Beth Murphy, incumbent

WARD 12 — includes part or all of: Boulevard Heights, Princeton Heights, St. Louis Hills. Larry Arnowitz resigned last year.

– Joe Rusch
– Bill Stephens
– Vicky Grass, incumbent from special election

WARD 11 — includes parts or all of: Carondelet, Patch, Holly Hills, Boulevard Heights, and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods.

– Sarah Wood Martin, incumbent

WARD 9 — includes parts or all of: Dutchtown, Mount Pleasant, Marine Villa, Gravois Park, Kosciusko, Soulard, Benton Park, Tower Grove East, and Benton Park West neighborhoods.

– Ken A. Ortmann, former alderman
– Dan Guenther, incumbent

WARD 7 — includes parts or all of: Kosciusko, Soulard, Benton Park, McKinley Heights, Fox Park, Compton Heights, Lafayete Park, Downtown, Downtown West, and Near North Riverfront neighborhoods.

– Shedrick (Nato Caliph) Kelley
– Jack Coatar, incumbent

WARD 5 — includes parts or all of: Downtown West, JeffVanderLou, St. Louis Place, Carr Square, Columbus Square, Old North St. Louis, Near North Riverfront, and Hyde Park neighborhoods.

– Tammika Hubbard, incumbent
– James Page

WARD 4 — includes parts or all of: Lewis Place, Kingshighway East, Greater Ville, The Ville, and Vandeventer neighborhoods. Sam Moore died in 2020, this election is for the remainder of the term.

– Edward McFowland
– Leroy Carter
– Dwinderlin (Dwin) Evans, incumbent from special election

WARD 3 — includes parts or all of: JeffVanderLou, St. Louis Place, Hyde Park, College Hill, Fairground, and O’Fallon neighborhoods.

– Brandon Bosley, incumbent
– Herdosia Kalambayi Bentum

WARD 1 — includes parts or all of: Wells/Goodfellow, Kingshighway East & West, Penrose, Mark Twain, and Walnut Park East neighborhoods.

– Loren Watt
– Sharon Tyus, incumbent
– Yolanda Brown

COMPTROLLER — citywide

– Longtime Comptroller Darlene Green is again unchallenged.

MAYOR — citywide. Mayor Lyda Krewson isn’t seeking a second term.

– Andrew Jones
– Tishaura O. Jones
– Cara Spencer
– Lewis Reed

So those who are unchallenged will be re-elected. The races with only two candidates will be decided on March 2nd. Races with 3 or more candidates might be decided on Election Day — if one gets at least 50% of the votes.

School board elections and any runoff races will be Tuesday April 6, 2021.

— Steve Patterson

Initial Thoughts On Proposed ‘City District’ In North St. Louis

January 4, 2021 Featured, North City, Planning & Design Comments Off on Initial Thoughts On Proposed ‘City District’ In North St. Louis
 

In 1990, at just 23, I fell in love with St. Louis and its quirky street grid. I hadn’t yet been to New York or Chicago but I knew many big cities had rigid orthogonal grids — nothing but right angles.

St.Louis’ grid, on the other hand, had right, obtuse, and acute angles. This meant interesting views from various directions, buildings designed to fit into the odd-shaped parcels. Some streets follow old trails, the neighborhoods built up around the meandering paths.

I simply adore this about St. Louis.

In my first 6-9 months here I made my way along North & West Florissant Avenue as it makes it way up through North St. Louis. My destination was O’Fallon Park — the neighborhood and city park.

Right before the park was the remnants of once-thriving commercial district. I’ve been back there many times over the years in a car, bike, bus, and motor scooter.

From the bus on August 5, 2017, looking at West Florissant Ave & Harne Ave. Click image to view in Google Streetview

This old commercial area is the center of a new revitalization project called “The City District.”

Phase One
During the $34 million Phase One, 66 parcels will be demolished and the land will be reallocated for new construction of retail, homes and community greenspaces. More than 50 percent of these properties are currently vacant. The construction team is working on master plan and design development and bidding. Demolition will begin in March. Kwame Building Group is serving as the construction manager and program manager. The architect is Jackson Design Group.

In Phase One, the construction team also will build City Plaza, which will create vibrant shopping and recreational opportunities and a thriving local labor force. The commercial center will feature extensive retail and office space, including a grocery store and bowling alley.

Phase Two
The O’ Fallon Neighborhood is home to some of St. Louis’ largest and most historical homes rivaling the size and stylings found in the Central West End and surrounding Tower Grove Park and Forest Park. In Phase Two, $1 million will be invested in rehabilitating 26 existing homes. Large single-family homes will be converted into multi-use rental properties while retaining their architectural history. A $24 million project will construct new single and multi-family homes.

Culturally competent and equitable redevelopment practices will be central throughout the five-year project. The KWAME team is committed to maximizing MBE/WBE and local firm participation. The project team has established a partnership with the City of St. Louis to increase community safety and security focused on community competent policing. Existing infrastructure will be reimagined to improve and promote public transit and pedestrian accessibility. (Kwame Building Group)

My initial thoughts are generally positive, the area desperately needs investment after decades of disinvestment by whites and then blacks. I’m very glad this effort is coming from the black community, not an old white suburban developer. It’s a very good thing they’ve given this commercial district a name — that’s important for creating a positive identity.

However, I’m very concerned about demolition of currently occupied structures. Reallocating land sounds like making wide suburban lots rather than the existing narrow lots with garages and services off the alley. How the large triangle created as West Florissant splits is treated will be very important. It’s all asphalt now. Lots of unanswered questions.

Wisely they’ve said it will take multiple phases and five years, though I expect it’ll take even longer. And that’s ok, it didn’t decline overnight so we can’t expect an immediate reversal. I’m looking forward to seeing more details.

— Steve Patterson

So Long 2020: Too Much Death

December 30, 2020 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on So Long 2020: Too Much Death
 
Didn’t have a dumpster fire photo, so this October 16th McKee warehouse fire will have to do representing 2020.

Most agree 2020 was, overall, an awful year. So much death. Not just from COVID-19, murders in St. Louis also set records. As of December 24th 254 people had been murdered in the city.

St. Louis has seen a nearly 25% increase in the number of homicides over the same period in 2019.

This year is the deadliest year in St. Louis’ history on a per capita basis. In 1993, 267 people were fatally shot, but the city had about 80,000 more residents. (KSDK)

There’s no vaccine to keep our murder rate from going up, no treatment has been found to lower it permanently.

When 2020 began I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to 2021. In December 2019 I received my first two immunotherapy treatments stage 4 kidney cancer. My to do list for 2020 included checking off bucket list items and making final arrangements should the treatment not work.

In early February I got the first news — the treatments prevented the tumors from growing! I was very happy and thought this was going to be a good year. I began thinking about making a 2-week solo trip to Chicago in April. As I was about to buy a round trip ticket on Amtrak everything went into lockdown.

In April, instead of a trip to Chicago, I had surgery to install a power port in my chest. I inherited my mom’s tricky veins, so this little device is connected to a jugular vein making blood draws and intravenous treatments much easier. We’d received homemade masks from my sister-in-law the day before my surgery.

Unlike so many, I’m still here. I’m actually optimistic I’ll see at least 2022. At some point in the 2nd half of 2021 it’ll be less risky to travel, eat out, etc. Unfortunately I’m not optimistic about crime in St. Louis being substantially reduced.

— Steve Patterson

Metro’s Blue Color Scheme A Welcomed Change

December 24, 2020 Featured, Public Transit Comments Off on Metro’s Blue Color Scheme A Welcomed Change
 

A year ago Metro announced that a new color scheme was being phased in.

You will continue to see the red-white-and-blue trains and buses for a long time. There are currently three MetroLink trains featuring the new look, as well as 26 new MetroBus vehicles. These new 30-foot Gillig buses have improved emissions and a much smaller turning radius than other buses in the fleet, making them more flexible in the types of service they can provide and in the locations where they can better operate.

The new paint scheme will only be applied to new vehicles being added to the Metro fleet as they replace older trains, buses and vans that are being retired out of service. All of these updates are part of the normal maintenance and replacement cycle for transit vehicles, signs and materials, and no additional funds are being used or needed to make these changes.

It took a while but I think most vehicles have now received the new design. Train vehicles haven’t actually been replaced, but individual cars gets updated and the livery changes from the standard to advertising, etc. Buses also get a change of livery based on advertising wraps.

The new blue design in July 2020
New blue design last month

MetroLink trains & buses have been white for decades.

The old blue & red design on a white background, 2014.
The old blue & red on a white background on August 26, 2006 — the opening of the Shrewsbury line.

I’ve been here 30 years and I couldn’t think of a different color scheme, but a friend reminded me prior to the 2003 Bi-State to Metro change to blue & red on white they had a red/orange/yellow scheme.

Red, orange, & yellow strip on white background. 1996 photo by Ron Walker.

I personally love the new design. The bold blue design stands out, at least for now. In time it’ll get old and tired. It’s refreshing to no longer have the white background. I’ve seen the new blue design on buses, but haven’t gotten a photo yet.

— Steve Patterson

New Book — ‘Oldest St. Louis’ by NiNi Harris

December 17, 2020 Books, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on New Book — ‘Oldest St. Louis’ by NiNi Harris
 

I’ve been fortunate enough to know local historian & author NiNi Harris for more than two decades. I posted about her books before, and another is now available.

From iconic buildings like the Old Cathedral to the Polish butcher shop in North City, Oldest St. Louis explores the history of St. Louis through the history of the city’s oldest institutions, streets, and businesses. From the oldest library book, to the oldest museum, Oldest St. Louis traces the history of the city’s rich cultural life. From the oldest Italian bar to the oldest bowling alley, the book recalls St. Louis’s ethnic traditions. In following the stories of the oldest businesses and institutions, the book becomes a sensory tour of St. Louis featuring the crunchy oatmeal cookies made in the Dutchtown neighborhood the same way for 82 years, the fragrance in the 138 year old Greenhouse in mid-winter and the beauty of St. Louis’s 184 year-old Lafayette Park. Oldest St. Louis is also a nostalgic look at recent history from the space-age design of South County Mall, to a cherry Coke made with a secret recipe since the Chuck-A-Burger drive-in restaurant opened in St. Ann in 1957. (Reedy Press)

The contents are long, all starting with “Oldest…” I knew some, but not all. I had to quickly turn page by page to see the oldest this and that. In my 30+ years in St. Louis I’ve been to many of them: oldest soda fountain, convent, soul food diner, etc.

Each Oldest subject is headed by the year. The oldest Oldest is a tie — from 1474! Most are 19th & 20th century. Harris talks about each Oldest.

If you’re a St. Louis fan then this book needs to be on your bookshelf.

— Steve Patterson

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