Readers: We Need More Gun Control

 

 Every time we have a mass shooting in America I’m reminded the rest of the world doesn’t have this same problem. How can we have such a major problem but nobody else does? They have firearms, are not immune to mental illness, play the same video games, etc. After the …

New Book | The Great Uprising: Race Riots in Urban America during the 1960s by Peter B Levy

 

 I was alive during the 1960s…but only the last few years. As such, I have no memory of the many cultural changes that took place between 1960-1970. I asked my oldest brother, 67, about becoming a teenager in the 60s…in our hometown of Oklahoma City. His reply: Race Riots, rampant …

Sunday Poll: More Gun Control or Just Enforce Existing Laws?

 

 Last week’s shooting in Florida has sparked heated debate about solutions to the rising number of mass shootings: More than a dozen school shootings have already occurred so far in 2018. According to non-profit organization Everytown for Gun Safety, a total of 17 shootings have occurred on school campuses across the United States …

St. Louis Board of Aldermen Week 34 of 2017-2018 Session

 

 The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 34th week of the 2017-2018 session. NEW BOARD BILLS ON THE AGENDA* FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 2/16/18: *Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, bills not on the agenda might be introduced …

Recent Articles:

First Stainless Steel Triangle of Gateway Arch Set Into Place 55 Years Ago

February 12, 2018 Featured, History/Preservation, Parks, Planning & Design Comments Off on First Stainless Steel Triangle of Gateway Arch Set Into Place 55 Years Ago
 
Looking toward the Arch from 4th Street, July 2014

Fifty-five years ago today “the first stainless steel triangle that formed the first section of the arch was set in place on the south leg” of the Gateway Arch. Demolition of 40 blocks of old buildings and original street grid of the original village of St. Louis had begun nearly a quarter century earlier — in 1939.  The idea of completely erasing the riverfront and starting over began following the 1904 World’s Fair.

On April 11, 1934, lawyers filed incorporation papers for the new Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association. Its charge was to develop “a suitable and permanent public memorial” to President Thomas Jefferson along the city’s dingy riverfront.

Its leader was Luther Ely Smith, who always seemed to be in the middle of noble endeavors. He would guide the riverfront project through Depression and war, a massive land-clearance and a top-flight design competition. He would be praised as the founding father when St. Louis selected as the suitable memorial Eero Saarinen’s idea for what would become the Gateway Arch. (Post Dispatch)

Luther Ely Smith (June 11, 1873 – April 2, 1951) didn’t live long enough to see the Arch even started, though he knew which design had been selected from the competition.

Not surprising St. Louis continues to honor people like Smith, someone who created a massive hole in the center of the city for decades. As chair of the City Planning Commission he hired Harland Bartholomew, who also pushed for massive destruction of the city & street grid — widening the remaining streets and opposing new rail transit.  See Harland Bartholomew negatively impacted many cities.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should We Return To A More Traditional Celebration of Valentine’s Day?

February 11, 2018 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should We Return To A More Traditional Celebration of Valentine’s Day?
 
Please vote below

Wednesday is Valentine’s Day — a holiday celebrated around the world — in very different ways. Here, it’s about gifts. From a year ago:

Valentine’s Day spending is expected to drop 7.6% this year to $18.2 billion from last year’s $19.7 billion, according to the latest annual survey form the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics. It turns out that 9% fewer people plan on celebrating the occasion.

“Valentine’s Day continues to be a popular gift-giving occasion even if consumers are being more frugal this year,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This is one day of the year when millions find a way to show their loved ones they care regardless of their budget. Consumers will find that retailers recognize that their customers are looking for the best deals and will offer good bargains just as they did during the holiday season.”

Once again it looks like department stores will have their hearts broken. They are the favorite shopping destination for Americans purchasing Valentine’s day presents. The average spending per person is expected to drop from last year’s $146.84 to $136.57. Discount stores are the second choice, while online shopping comes in at third. (Forbes)

This year it looks like spending will rebound.

Apparently, most Americans won’t be celebrating Valentine’s Day by offering their sweetheart a heart-shaped box of chocolates from the grocery store and a cheap bouquet of flowers. Instead, the 55% of Americans who say they plan to celebrate the holiday are estimated to spend, on average, $143.56, according to an annual survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. That’s up from last year’s $136.57.

Total spending will hit $19.6 billion, according to the survey, a dramatic increase from the $18.2 billion spent last year. The 2018 number, however, won’t quite break the record of $19.7 billion set in 2016, when the average was $146.84, for a $19.7 billion total. (The Motley Fool)

Today’s poll is about Valentine’s Day:

This poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen Week 33 of 2017-2018 Session

February 9, 2018 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen Week 33 of 2017-2018 Session
 
St. Louis City Hall

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen will meet at 10am today, their 33rd week of the 2017-2018 session.

NEW BOARD BILLS ON THE AGENDA* FOR INTRODUCTION TODAY 2/9/18:

*Note that just because a bill is on the agenda doesn’t mean it’ll be introduced, similarly, bills not on the agenda might be introduced if they suspend the rules to do so. This information is based on the published agenda as of yesterday @ 8am:

  • B.B.#257 – Guenther ? An ordinance approving a Redevelopment Plan for 3434 and 3436 Indiana.
  • B.B.#258 – Middlebrook ? An ordinance approving the Petition to Establish the Gateway Land Community Improvement District.
  • B.B.#259 – Oldenburg ? An ordinance amending Ordinance No. 68481, approved November 9, 2009, for the purpose of prohibiting smoking within one?hundred (100) yards of any Park Playground, except in those areas in which smoking is not regulated under Ordinance No. 68481, 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.

— Steve Patterson

Readers Seeking a Variety of Vehicle Types

February 7, 2018 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Readers Seeking a Variety of Vehicle Types
 
This 1974 photo shows my 2 brothers with my oldest niece in my dad’s 1964 Ford Econoline van on vacation at Saint Augustine FL

Vehicles have changed dramatically since first invented. The preferred family vehicle continues to change too. Currently Crossovers are on the rise as sales of passenger cars drop.

The SUV is officially king.

Three full-size pickups were still the best-selling vehicles in the United States last year. But the fourth-place spot was claimed for the first time by an SUV, not a sedan.

In 2017 the Toyota RAV4 sport ute outsold the Toyota Camry sedan, reigning car-sales champ for the last 15 years.

The compact, five-door RAV4 crossover sold 407,594 units last year — a gain of 15.7 percent — eclipsing Camry by 20,513 in sales. The midsize sedan saw an annual sales decline of 0.4 percent. Camry wasn’t even runner-up as another SUV, the Nissan Rogue, gained 22.3 percent to 403,465 units sold.

Most of the vehicles labeled as SUVs aren’t, they’re technically crossovers. What’s the difference?

For many car experts, the difference between the two is simple: A crossover is based on a car’s platform, while an SUV uses the chassis of a truck. The result is that crossovers use “unibody” architecture, meaning the body and frame are one piece, while SUVs use a “body on frame” design. In that case, the body is built separately from the frame and placed together later. 

While that definition is strictly true, it doesn’t always work in practice. For example, many shoppers refer to car-based, unibody vehicles as SUVs even though they’re crossovers by our definition. How often, for example, do you hear the Ford Explorer called an SUV? Or the Toyota Highlander? Or the Jeep Grand Cherokee? All use a car-based unibody design, despite their appearance and marketing. 

The result is that the term “SUV” is often applied to both crossovers and SUVs. In the past, that was even more common. Before, “SUV” brought up negative associations with large size and poor gas mileage. That’s when many automakers started using the term “crossover” to describe a vehicle that was “crossing over” from the practicality of an SUV to the drivability and fuel efficiency of a car. (Auto Trader)

Regardless of the tern you use, every auto manufacturer is rushing to add more models to their lineups. Sports car maker Porsche was early to capitalize on the trend to SUVs/crossovers with the 2003 Cayenne. BMW subsidiary Rolls Royce won’t call their upcoming Cullinan an SUV or Crossover — it’s a “high-sided vehicle.

The Ferrari sedan won’t happen, as sales of conventional three-box four-doors—even ones with glamorous badge—are in a slow death spiral. That leaves the Ferrari SUV, an idea no longer as outlandish as a few short years ago, what with Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, and Lamborghini now following Bentley and Porsche into the segment.

“Ferrari will not produce an SUV competing with Porsche, Bentley, or Lamborghini,” insists Ferrari marketing boss Enrico Galliera. “An SUV can be a very fast car. But it’s not a sports car. We will remain consistent with our strategy, which is producing sports cars.”

Except … several sources have confirmed Ferrari is working on an all-road, all-wheel-drive, wagonlike vehicle with four doors that’s based on the architecture used for the GTC4Lusso. So what makes it more sports car than SUV? The laid-back driving position, apparently. (Motor Trend)

I’ve seen the 70s van craze, the 80s mini-van craze, the 90s body-on-frame SUV craze. I personally think the current unibody crossover craze will come to an end as we move toward fleet-owned autonomous electric vehicles. I could be wrong, of course. I do know for certain I’ll see lots of new crossovers/SUVs and fewer passenger cars at the Chicago Auto Show. Tomorrow & Friday are media-only days.  If something interesting comes up either day I’ll be posting it to Twitter & Facebook.

Here are the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: I’d like my next vehicle to be a…

  • Convertible 2 [6.45%]
  • Coupe 4 [12.9%]
  • Crossover 4 [12.9%]
  • Hatchback 5 [16.13%]
  • Sedan 5 [16.13%]
  • Sports Car 0 [0%]
  • SUV 2 [6.45%]
  • Truck 1 [3.23%]
  • Van 4 [12.9%]
  • Wagon 2 [6.45%]
  • Unsure 0 [0%]
    n/a 2 [6.45%]

These results are very different than the overall auto market.

— Steve Patterson

Filling In The Gap Between The Campbell House & The Former YMCA

February 5, 2018 Featured, History/Preservation, Planning & Design Comments Off on Filling In The Gap Between The Campbell House & The Former YMCA
 

In the middle of the 19th century the mansions along Lucas Place, now Locust St, were considered way out on the edge of town.

Fol­low­ing the cholera epi­demic and fire in 1849, wealthy cit­i­zens became con­vinced that it was no longer desir­able to live in down­town St. Louis. James Lucas and his sis­ter Anne Lucas Hunt soon offered a solu­tion. They devel­oped the idea of the “Place,” a neigh­bor­hood with deed restric­tions that ensured it remained apart from the city and gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. The main thor­ough­fare was aptly called Lucas Place. Orig­i­nally Lucas Place (now Locust Street) extended between 13th and 16th streets when the city lim­its were just one block to the west between 17th and 18th streets. When estab­lished, Lucas Place was west of the devel­oped por­tion of the city, mak­ing it St. Louis’ first “sub­ur­ban” neighborhood.  (Campbell House Museum)

This 3-block oasis didn’t last long as St. Louis’ population exploded. The wealthy began to move Westward — this still happens in the region.One by one the grand old mansions became rooming houses and eventually razed for offices/warehouses.

Except one.

Built in 1851, the first house in the ele­gant Lucas Place neigh­bor­hood, the Camp­bell House was the home of renowned fur trader and entre­pre­neur Robert Camp­bell and his fam­ily from 1854 until 1938. The museum con­tains hun­dreds of orig­i­nal Camp­bell pos­ses­sions includ­ing fur­ni­ture, paint­ings, cloth­ing, let­ters, car­riages and a unique set of inte­rior pho­tographs taken in the mid-1880s. (Campbell House Museum)

More about the museum in a bit.

The Campbell House, lower right outlined in blue, was dramatically different by the time this Sanbon Map was made in February 1909. Click image to view source.

At this scale you can’t read that the abutting 24 foot wide lot includes a machine shop and garment factory. The next house West is still a residence but then we have a hotel and finally a printer. Across Locust St in the upper left is the Ely Walker Annex, and three old mansions turned into boarding houses. You’ll note the YMCA, closed in May 2017, hasn’t been built yet.

Last year the Campbell House Museum shared the following image as the YMCA was about to close. From their caption:

The YMCA is the last of the Campbell’s neighbors as Hugh and Hazlett Campbell were still alive for the first years of operation of the Downtown Y.

The photo dates from 1926 as the building nears completion. (Facebook)

 

This 1936 image shows the storefronts built in from of the mansion next door

After Robert & Virginia Campbell died their 3 sons continued living in the house until their deaths. Their youngest son died first, of the flu at age 30. The two older brothers lived into their 80s:

When Hugh died in 1931, Hazlett was declared of “unsound mind,” throw­ing into ques­tion the fate of the Camp­bell estate. While a lengthy court bat­tle broke out among the Camp­bells var­i­ous rela­tions fol­low­ing Hazlett’s death in 1938, some St. Louisans were more con­cerned about the house and its con­tents. Through their efforts, the Camp­bell House Museum was formed, and soon man­aged to pur­chase most of the Campbell’s orig­i­nal effects. The Museum opened in 1943. (Campbell House Museum)

Yes, the Campbell House Museum is owned & operated by a private group — NOT the City of St. Louis. The museum opened on February 6, 1943 — 75 years ago tomorrow!

The space between the Campbell House Museum and the former YMCA has been surface parking since the 1940s. Despite what you might think, it isn’t one big lot for the Y. The 24′ wide lot next to the CHM is guest parking. They didn’t raze the building that was there — American General Insurance, now Terra Cotta lofts, used it for surface parking.

A sign indicates this narrow lot isn’t Y parking
In this image you can see a little Campbell House on the left, the gap, and the East side of the former YMCA building
A much closer view
The upper floors of the YMCA were apartments, they’ve been vacant for any least a decade. The building is a 2-part condo: YMCA on the lower part, another owner for the upper floors
Ideally the gap would be filled in with something more active than a lifeless parking garage like the one across the street where the Ely Walker Annex once stood

The Campbell House Museum is planning new construction on the back of their narrow lot to construct an accessible entrance. At the front I’d like to see a building come within 5-10 feet of the CHM — with the same setback. In the rest of the gap I’d like to see infill step toward Locust — eventually meeting the sidewalk like the TMCA does. This building could be shallow to conceal a new parking garage at the rear of the lot.

I’d like all 3 automobile driveways in the gap area closed. A new garage can be accessed via the alley. Of course I want to see the former YMCA building renovated and occupied. It may take years, but it’ll happen. When it does I’m not so concerned about it as I am about the gap. It shouldn’t stay as surface parking, nor should it be another bland garage facing Locust. I would like to see the infill represent the best of 21st century design — in between 19th & 20th century buildings.

Again, tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Campbell House Museum. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you make an appointment or visit in March when regular hours resume.

— Steve Patterson

 

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