My Absentee Ballot Has Been Received

 

 As a disabled voter I’ve been on the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners absentee ballot list for years. However, they don’t just mail me a ballot. They mail a ballot request form which must be signed and returned. Once received, they mail the ballot to me. New this year …

Landscaping That Narrowed Public Sidewalk Cut Back

 

 In the nearly 16 years I’ve been blogging I’ve written a lot about sidewalks, and items that can block them. Examples include parked cars in driveways, dumpsters, cafe tables & chairs, business signs, etc. Today’s item narrowing a sidewalk is…was…landscaping. I use 7th Street often when heading into downtown. For …

St. Louis Businesses Ordered To Shut Down — 102 Years Ago Today

 

 The city’s health commissioner has just ordered many businesses to close, effective tomorrow. That was the order on October 7, 1918. City Health Commissioner Max B. Starkloff announced that public gathering places would be closed immediately to prevent the spread of influenza, which was just then becoming an epidemic in …

Four St. Louis High-Rise Public Housing Projects Replaced With Low-Rise Developments

 

 Today’s post is about HOPE VI projects. You may have heard that term before, but if you’re unfamiliar here’s an introduction: HOPE VI is a program of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is intended to revitalize the worst public housing projects in the United States …

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30 Years in St. Louis

August 28, 2020 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on 30 Years in St. Louis
 
Me pre-stroke in the December 2006 issue of St. Louis Magazine, this was near my heaviest weight of 275-300lbs. Photo by Dillip Vishwanat

It was three decades ago that I officially moved to St. Louis, from Oklahoma City. I’d planned to move to Washington DC, but instantly fell in love with St. Louis on the way.

The building stock and street grid called for me to stay. Many buildings needed renovation but even pre-renovation the proportions, massing, details, and spectacular brickwork were unlike anything I’d seen before. The potential of the city was enormous. 

The renovated Union Station and St. Louis Centre each were only 5 years old. Vincent Schoemehl was in his 3rd/last term as mayor of St. Louis. The Circuit Attorney was George Peach, but his hypocritical behavior would catch up to him just over a year later.

I missed being counted in the 1990 census by six months. The total that year was 396,685, more than a 12% drop from the 1980 census. I have been counted as a St. Louis resident in three census (2000, 2010,2020). Next year we’ll learn the results of the 2020 census, St. Louis’ population will likely drop below 300k. Thus, in my time here roughly 100,000 people have left.

Seems too few saw the potential I did 30 years ago. Or they recognized it but were also unable to reverse negative reality & perceptions about the city. My first weeks in my new apartment the manager advised me to not venture north of Delmar. You can’t change what so many willingly continue to perpetuate.

The point where I spent half of my life in St. Louis came 7 years ago, in 2013. I’ve now been blogging for more than half of my years in St. Louis, this Halloween will be the 16th anniversary of this blog.  The last third of my time here has been on disability, unable to work. When I came out in 1983 the idea of same-sex marriage wasn’t even on my radar, but I’ve been married twenty percent of my years in St. Louis. I’m on my 7th address, my 5th zip code.

With Stage IV Kidney cancer I know I won’t make it to a 4th census in St. Louis, a fact I’ve come to accept.  The treatment is keeping my tumors “stable”, but there will be a point when treatments will no longer be effective. 

I now weigh 165 lbs, about what I did in 1990.

Days before my 2008 stroke I looked into getting a burial plot at Bellefontaine Cemetary, but after I arranged with Washington University School of Medicine to donate my body for research. The point when treatment no longer works I’ll likely have a party to celebrate my life while I’m still here.

In the meantime I’m going to continue exploring, writing, suggesting, etc.

— Steve Patterson

Literature Review: Women’s Suffrage in St. Louis

August 26, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Literature Review: Women’s Suffrage in St. Louis
 

It was 100 years ago today that the 19th amendment to the constitution was certified, just in time for millions of women to cast their first votes in the 1920 presidential election. By the time the 19th amendment became effective women in some states had been voting for decades, but now all women could vote in all elections.

DATE: 1916-06-14 Suffragists gathered on the steps of the old City Art Museum at Nineteenth and Locust Street for the Golden Lane demonstration during the 1916 Democratic National Convention. The crowd is gathered on the steps of the museum and on both sides of the street. A sign on the left reads: “Headquarters of the National State and City Woman’s Suffrage Association. Welcome!”

Last month we watched The Vote on American Experience/PBS which demonstrated women weren’t given the right to vote — they spend many decades fighting for the right.

One hundred years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, The Vote tells the dramatic culmination story of the hard-fought campaign waged by American women for the right to vote — a transformative cultural and political movement that resulted in the largest expansion of voting rights in U.S. history.

In its final decade, from 1909 to 1920, movement leaders wrestled with contentious questions about the most effective methods for affecting social change. They debated the use of militant, even violent tactics, as well as hunger strikes and relentless public protests. The battle for the vote also upended previously accepted ideas about the proper role of women in American society and challenged the definitions of citizenship and democracy.

Exploring how and why millions of 20th-century Americans mobilized for — and against — women’s suffrage, The Vote brings to life the unsung leaders of the movement and the deep controversies over gender roles and race that divided Americans then — and continue to dominate political discourse today. (American Experience/PBS)

Highly recommended. It got me thinking about the effort here in St. Louis, so I thought I’d look up old Post-Dispatch articles.  I found thousands of of articles on my search. Not all were relevant many about events elsewhere. I’ve spent days going through search results from 1874 – February 16, 1913. I’d hoped to at least get though this day 100 years ago, but time ran out. I will finish and update the research found below.

— Steve Patterson

… Continue Reading

Broadway and 4th Street Need To Become Two-Way Again

August 24, 2020 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design, Transportation Comments Off on Broadway and 4th Street Need To Become Two-Way Again
 

Last week, in response to a death as a result of late night racing downtown, St. Louis put up temporary barriers in various places, including blocking all traffic across the Eads Bridge.

In addition to the bridge, the city also closed a section of Washington Avenue from Tucker Boulevard to 14th Street with barricades this week. Barriers also narrow traffic in stretches of 4th Street, Broadway and Market Street.
 
“These are temporary changes,” Krewson said Friday. “This isn’t something that we expect to be there forever.”

Krewson said downtown streets are built to hold a much larger volume of traffic than the city sees in an average day, and with fewer people working downtown because of COVID-19, the streets are even less crowded. (Post-Dispatch)

The last paragraph, quoted above, is an admission our streets are too wide. Previously when anyone argued the 4th Street/Broadway couplet (one-way in opposite directions) should be returned to two-way traffic the claim was always they needed to remain one-way due to traffic volume.

Southbound cars on Broadway at the Cole Street light. Three very wide lanes.
When the light turns green Broadway widens to five total lanes. The two outside lanes are no-parking, except for rare times when tickets are being sold at the Dome.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic the volume on 4th/Broadway couldn’t justify the one-way couplet. It’s past time for the decades-long experiment on our streets to end. The sole purpose of originally converting these streets to one-way decades ago was to quickly move cars into downtown offices in the morning, and then vacate them in the afternoon — just before the sidewalks were rolled up each night. Part of the engineer’s disastrous effort also included banning on-street parking — that slows down the flow of vehicles. This is exactly the opposite of how you build a user-friendly downtown.

Now, approaching Convention Plaza (Delmar), the vehicles that raced from the light form a single-file line.

Looking back North from Convention Plaza (Delmar)

Walk Broadway from Cole Street to I-64 and see how it feels being next to one-way traffic for over a mile. You’ll see in places the street has 5 very wide lanes that encourage high speeds. Even with the barricades at points, drivers coming off I-44 onto southbound Broadway at Cole street they reach high speeds to get into single file formation at Convention Plaza (aka Delmar).

The prior week a vehicle knocked over a bollard on the Southwest corner of Broadway & Washington Ave.
And then crashed through this temporary wall.

Changing 4th/Broadway back to two-way traffic is only part of the needed solution. Traffic signals must be timed so that a person taking off from a red light doesn’t encounter another red light just a block or two down the street. Our signal timing often encourages people to speed to make it through the next two or three lights. Lane width also matters — the wider the lanes the faster the traffic.

This isn’t the St. Louis of 1950, we need to reverse decisions made by people born in the late 19th century.

— Steve Patterson

Grammar Checking Graffiti on Eads Bridge

August 20, 2020 Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on Grammar Checking Graffiti on Eads Bridge
 

The last four months I’ve gone out on the Eads Bridge numerous times, thanks to the accessibility of the Missouri end of the pedestrian walkway finally getting fixed. I’ve also crossed the Mississippi River a couple of times to visit the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, with its geyser & lookout tower.

Looking West toward downtown St. Louis

I tend to ignore graffiti on my trips on the bridge, too much else I’d rather focus on. But one day a grouping of graffiti caught my eye on a lookout point as I was photographing the Arch & river.

This is pretty typical of graffiti you’ can find on the railing.

But above this was something offensive, for a couple of reasons.

Really?

I’ve been blogging for nearly 16 years now, regular readers are aware I routinely make grammatical errors. I acknowledge I make mistakes. That said, I know the apostrophe is used to indicate  possession, a contraction, and in some cases plurality. Obviously this person, perhaps 29-year-old Joe Joe, doesn’t understand the difference. Grammerly has a good explanation here, TED has a good video here.

I couldn’t let this mistake continue, so I brought a big black marker on my next two visits.

The unnecessary apostrophe is now gone!
Now this graffiti is only offensive for one reason. Note, the water level has been dropping.

If you’re going to graffiti something at least make sure you use the apostrophe correctly.

Again, I’m fully aware there are likely examples in my writing over the last 15+ years where I’ve used the apostrophe incorrectly. My doing so doesn’t interfere with your photography.

— Steve Patterson

New Book — ‘Parks and Recreation System Planning: A New Approach for Creating Sustainable, Resilient Communities’ by David Barth

August 19, 2020 Books, Featured, Parks Comments Off on New Book — ‘Parks and Recreation System Planning: A New Approach for Creating Sustainable, Resilient Communities’ by David Barth
 

Times have changed considerably in the nearly 75 years since the city released the 1947 Comprehensive Plan, with a section on Public Recreation Facilities. Has our approach kept up with needs of the city, region? A new book is looking to push these forward.

Parks and recreation systems have evolved in remarkable ways over the past two decades. No longer just playgrounds and ballfields, parks and open spaces have become recognized as essential green infrastructure with the potential to contribute to community resiliency and sustainability. To capitalize on this potential, the parks and recreation system planning process must evolve as well. In Parks and Recreation System Planning, David Barth provides a new, step-by-step approach to creating parks systems that generate greater economic, social, and environmental benefits.

Barth first advocates that parks and recreation systems should no longer be regarded as isolated facilities, but as elements of an integrated public realm. Each space should be designed to generate multiple community benefits. Next, he presents a new approach for parks and recreation planning that is integrated into community-wide issues. Chapters outline each step—evaluating existing systems, implementing a carefully crafted plan, and more—necessary for creating a successful, adaptable system. Throughout the book, he describes initiatives that are creating more resilient, sustainable, and engaging parks and recreation facilities, drawing from his experience consulting in more than 100 communities across the U.S.

Parks and Recreation System Planning meets the critical need to provide an up-to-date, comprehensive approach for planning parks and recreation systems across the country. This is essential reading for every parks and recreation professional, design professional, and public official who wants their community to thrive. (Island Press)

This book is for design professionals, bureaucrats , elected officials, and community leaders involved in parks and recreation systems. The contents shows the level of detail:

Introduction: A Framework for Community Sustainability and Resiliency

Part I: Generating Multiple Benefits
Chapter 1. Parks and the Public Realm
Chapter 2. Multiple Dimensions of Parks and Recreation Systems
Chapter 3. High-Performance Public Spaces

Part II: Planning a Comprehensive Approach
Chapter 4. A New Approach to Parks and Recreation System Planning
Chapter 5. Initiating and Planning the PRSMP Process
Chapter 6. The Preliminary Implementation Framework

Part III: Executing the New Approach
Chapter 7. Existing Conditions Analysis
Chapter 8. The Needs Assessment
Chapter 9. Level-of-Service Alternatives
Chapter 10. Developing a Long-Range Vision
Chapter 11. Implementation Strategy

Conclusion: The Power of Parks and Recreation System Planning

You can read a preview at Google Books here, it can be ordered directly from Island Press, locally independent bookstore Left Bank, or that online store. Note: I don’t make anything from these links, just trying to be helpful.

— Steve Patterson

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