Demolition of St. Louis Centre Bridge Over Washington Ave Began A Decade Ago

 

 Ten years ago today work began on reversing a mistake that had been in place for 25 years prior — the pedestrian bridge over Washington Ave created a dark environment at the sidewalk level. The “Bridge Bash” event started with comments from numerous white men, followed by Mayor Slay operating …

It’s Opening Day! No, Not Baseball

 

 Every year opening day in the St. Louis region is a big deal, Cardinals baseball fans celebrate every year. But baseball isn’t starting today — some businesses in St. Louis City & County are being permitted to reopen, with restrictions. Not all businesses that can open, will open. Others that …

Eads Bridge Pedestrian Path Finally Accessible Again After 4+ Years Inaccessible

 

 The renovation of the Arch grounds a few years back greatly improved accessibility for the public. Going from the top of the steps down to the riverfront used to be a major challenge if you were pushing a stroller, or using a wheelchair. New ramps now make it very easy. …

Aloe Plaza Nudes Unveiled Eight Decades Ago, MLS Coming

 

 Eighty years ago today the nude sculptures in the Aloe Plaza fountain across Market Street from St. Louis Union Station were formally unveiled. The other figures in the fountain were unveiled the previous night. Artist Carl Milles attended,  Edith Aloe (1875-1956) did the unveiling. Edith Aloe, 64, was the widow …

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New Book: ‘The Last Children of Mill Creek’ by Vivian Gibson

April 15, 2020 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book: ‘The Last Children of Mill Creek’ by Vivian Gibson
 

Mill Creek, a vibrant African-American neighborhood, destroyed by Urban Renewal, is one of my favorite St. Louis subjects. So when the publisher contacted me for a review copy of ‘The Last Children of Mill Creek’ I quickly said yes.

A true story of growing up in segregated St. Louis, The Last Children of Mill Creek is the debut memoir by a talented writer finding her authentic voice later in life.

Vivian Gibson is a native St. Louisian who grew up in Mill Creek Valley, a neighborhood of St. Louis razed in 1959 to build a highway. Her family, friends, church community, and neighbors were all displaced by this act of “urban renewal.” In this moving memoir, Gibson recreates the everyday lived experiences of her large family, including her seven siblings, her crafty college-educated mother, who moved to St. Louis as part of the Great Migration, and her at-times forbidding father, who worked two jobs to keep them all warm and fed. With an eye for telling detail, she sketches scenes populated by her friends, shop owners, teachers, and others who made Mill Creek into a warm, tight-knit, African-American community, and reflects upon what it means that Mill Creek was destroyed in the name of racism disguised as “progress.”

The Last Children of Mill Creek is a moving memoir of family life at a time very different from the modern-day, when many working-class African-American families did not have indoor plumbing and when sundown laws were still in effect—and a document of an era that is now often forgotten or denied. In Gibson’s words, “This memoir is about survival, as told from the viewpoint of a watchful young girl —a collection of decidedly universal stories that chronicle the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.” (Belt Publishing)

A family memoir isn’t the usual type of book I’d look at on this blog. It only has one photo, a family photo of a mom reading to kids. No photos of buildings, no maps or charts. Gibson does mention their neighborhood being vacated and razed, but only to provide context.

I’m very glad I didn’t turn it down.

I usually just scan books, but this book I read cover to cover. Yes, it’s a short book — but it still took me a week (post-stroke reading is a challenge for me). Gibson does a wonderful job of introducing the reader to her family and their home that was at  2649 Bernard Street. In doing so she also describes the Mill Creek neighborhood.

Gibson lived with her parents and seven siblings in a 3-room cold-water flat, her paternal grandmother lived alone in the upstairs flat. Yes, a family of 10 lived in just three rooms. Well, her brothers stayed in the basement. Their flat was basically beds and a kitchen. A single light bulb per room. And rats.

With overcrowding into flats lacking hot water, but with plenty of rats, Mill Creek was a slum, right? No, Gibson’s descriptions of her street, neighborhoods, businesses, churches, schools, etc. is of a wonderful tight-knit neighborhood.

Once the current pandemic is over I want to meet Gibson to ask her more about the buildings, blocks, and businesses. In the meantime I’m going to start reading the book again, taking note of the many details she does give. I’d like to see another book — or a film — about the neighborhood.

Many of you likely saw The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, about the failed high rise public housing project. I think someone needs to do a film/documentary about life in neighborhoods a generation before they were razed.  Mill Creek is a good place to start.

Gibson’s book beautifully describes life growing up in Mill Creek, it saddens me it was physically erased. I can’t recommend this book enough, very enjoyable. I’ve spent many more hours thinking about it than reading it.

— Steve Patterson

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GreenLeaf Market Knowingly Blocking ADA Accessible Route

April 8, 2020 Accessibility, Featured, North City Comments Off on GreenLeaf Market Knowingly Blocking ADA Accessible Route
 

Yesterday morning I had minor outpatient surgery (post surgery photo) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Last evening, after my husband left for work as a Home Health Aide, I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and get a few things we needed from the nearby GreenLeaf Market — he’d called earlier to confirm they were open until 8pm. I had my mask on, hand sanitized, and canvas shopping bag on the back of the headrest on my power wheelchair.

Before I continue the story of last night I want to discuss their ADA accessible route — the route for pedestrians off of the Tucker public sidewalk.

During construction I was excited to see the inclusion of an accessible route, though the light post was in the path I could see the striped around it, to the East/right.
GreenLeaf Market opened on April 1, 2019 — just over a year ago.
A parking stop protected the accessible route going around the light base and provided a parking space for a compact car.

It didn’t take long, however, for a change to be made. The parking stop was removed and a cart carousel was put there instead — but it was initially kept back from the light base to keep the accessible route clear. Over the last year I arrived and found the cart carousel pushed up against the light base numerous times. I always extended my right foot and used my power wheelchair to put the carousel back into place for them, then went inside and did my shopping — leaving through the cleared accessible route.

Last night I arrived just before 7pm to find it pushed against the light base yet again. This time a staff member was retrieving carts from the carousel so I asked him to please move it back from the light base.  He said, “go around.” I mentioned the route was an ADA route, that this was a civil rights issue. Unfazed, he continued with the carts.

In hindsight I could’ve handled this differently, but it had been a very long day.

I said I can push it. To I quickly pushed one side away from the light base, it came close to him. He was upset, I was upset. He yelled at the security guard to not allow me into the store — he was blocking the doorway as I arrived. I headed back out but stopped to take the following photograph.

The cart carousel was right where I’d left it.

The security guard came out to tell me to leave the premises immediately, which I did. I went out to the public sidewalk to tweet about the experience. While sitting there tweeting (1/2) I noticed numerous people walking past me, and using the accessible route to enter the store. I also noticed the staff, however, had pushed the cart carousel back up against the light base!

Here a man is using the accessible route to reach the store from the public sidewalk.
When he gets to the blockage he is forced to go around.

Again, I own a big part of this. I had numerous times throughout the last year to point this out to management, but I didn’t. And last night rather than get upset with a guy just doing his job I should’ve just gone around and then mentioned the problem to the manager while leaving with my purchase.

And yes JZ, it can get designed & built correctly and the end user can screw it up. Hopefully I can speak to the manager today. The solution is simple, some pins to prevent the cart carousel from getting pushed up against the light base.

— Steve Patterson

Temporarily Going From Four Posts Per Week To Infrequent Posts

March 29, 2020 Featured, Site Info, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Temporarily Going From Four Posts Per Week To Infrequent Posts
 
A 2012 photo of me on a MetroBus

When I first announced last Halloween that I had stage 4 kidney cancer I said I hoped to continue blogging — keeping up my four posts per week schedule  November though February was manageable.

… Continue Reading

A Trip To The Nearest Park

March 27, 2020 Featured, Parks Comments Off on A Trip To The Nearest Park
 

On Wednesday I went outside, the temperature was nice and I’d been in our apartment for three full weeks — 21 days! I was going stir-crazy.

I decided that rather than just walk a few feet outdoors I’d take my power wheelchair to the closest public park. On the way there a man was sitting on his front porch. I said “Hello” and he replied the same. He was at least 10 feet away, no social distancing violation. He was the first person besides my husband I’d spoken with in person in three weeks.

The main entrance to Fr. Filipiak Park off the SW corner of 10th & O’Fallon. Patrick Henry Elementary is seen on the left.

Here’s the short text from the city’s page on this park:

In 1979, the Rev. Edward Filipiak, for whom the park is named, was a one-man pastorate on a mission to save his church, built in 1844, from demolition. Archdiocese leaders planned a new building nearby but backed off after some former parishioners organized the Friends of St. Joseph, and the National Register of Historic Places designated the twin-spire structure a landmark.

What you’ll see at this park is a grassy knoll of rolling berms and a few shade trees complete with benches and plaques in honor of Fr. Filipiak and those who’ve lost their lives in the line of work. https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/parks/parks/browse-parks/view-park.cfm?parkID=41&parkName=Father%20Filipiak%20Park

What’s not mentioned is Father Filipiak was brutally murdered in September 1979. His findagrave entry has his photo and a few more details. His murder saved the church, but the 19th century houses that faced 10th Street and backed up to the side of the church weren’t so lucky.

Looking North. A father was playing ball with his two kids. We spoke briefly and from a distance. 
Looking North & slightly East
A plaque honoring Father Filipiak

I think about him and his fight to save the church. If he hadn’t been murdered would the church still be here today?  Or the houses that occupied the land where this park exists — would they still exist.  Anyway, it was just very nice going outside and speaking to other human beings.

Today I’ll be out again but I have to worry about touching stuff and then not touching my face.

— Steve Patterson

Readers: Local Stay at Home Orders Are Good Public Policy

March 25, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers: Local Stay at Home Orders Are Good Public Policy
 
Source: Food & Drug Administration

Missouri, like most backwards states, didn’t issue a statewide stay at home order. That meant Kansas City, St. Louis City, and St. Louis County had to act on their own.

In a matter of days, millions of Americans have been asked to do what might have been unthinkable only a week or two ago: Don’t go to work, don’t go to school, don’t leave the house at all, unless you have to.

The directives to keep people at home to stunt the spread of the coronavirus began in California, and have quickly been adopted across the country. By Tuesday, more than a dozen states had called on their residents to stay at home as much as possible, with many cities and counties joining in.

This means at least 167 million people in 17 states, 18 counties and 10 cities are being urged to stay home. (New York Times)

It should’ve been nationwide, but President Trump is already discussing easing guidelines and reopening the country by Easter — over the objections of health professionals.  If this is going to end we’ve to stop it from spreading. That means reducing human interactions.

In the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll an overwhelming majority agrees, this is what governments should do to keep us safe.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis City & County issuing stay at home orders is government overreach.

  • Strongly agree: 5 [10.64%]
  • Agree: 2 [4.26%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [2.13%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [2.13%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [4.26%]
  • Disagree: 10 [21.28%]
  • Strongly disagree: 26 [55.32%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

I’m too tired to write anymore.

— Steve Patterson

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