Where Am I? Facebook Page Cover Image Contest

 

 I’ve often changed the cover image of the UrbanReviewSTL Facebook page, but now I’m asking “Where Am I?” for most images. In the above example, which will ne uploaded this morning, three buildings are visible. The best answer will identify all three. The reward for getting the first correct answer? …

Economic Impact of PGA Championship Won’t Be Felt Where Needed Most; St. Louis Looked Favorable To A Wide Audience

 

 When it comes to economic impact estimates I’m largely a skeptic. Such was the case with last week’s PGA Championship: The 100th PGA Championship Aug. 9-12 is expected to have an economic impact felt well beyond Bellerive Country Club’s picturesque course, up to $100 million, according to some estimates. Hotels …

Sunday Poll: What Impact Will The PGA Championship Have On Our Regional Economy?

 

 With the exception of Tuesday’s primary the news last week was dominated by the 100th PGA Championship held at Bellerive Country Club in suburban St. Louis County. I’m not a golf fan, so my thoughts turned to economics: The 100th PGA Championship Aug. 9-12 is expected to have an economic …

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After A Quarter Century, Still No Transit-Oriented Development At St. Louis’ Light Rail Stations

July 30, 2018 Featured, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on After A Quarter Century, Still No Transit-Oriented Development At St. Louis’ Light Rail Stations
 

Tomorrow is an important day for transit in St. Louis. At 10am Tuesday 7/31, 2018 a new MetroLink station will open along the original segment. The original light rail alignment opened 25 years earlier on July 31, 1993.

I was 26 and a huge supporter of rail transit, but I didn’t live or work anywhere near amy of the stations. At the time I lived in Old North St. Louis, a year later I bought a 2-family in Dutchtown. I was working in Rock Hill. MO.

MetroBus picking up riders at the Wellston MetroLink station– taking them to their final destination. The Wellston Station still lacks any transit-orioented development (TOD).

As a result of where I lived & worked, light rail wasn’t of any use to me. Switching jobs from Rock Hill to North St. Louis to Kirkwood didn’t change the lack of usefulness to me. However, I do recall a few times I’d catch the bud to take MetroLink to the airport for a rare trip.

East St Louis

It wasn’t until after moving downtown, and my February 2008 stroke a few months later, that I really began to use our public transit system on a regular basis. In the last decade I’ve traveled far more miles on MetroBus than via light rail.  Trips involving light rail almost always involve a MetroBus on one end, or both.

Crowds fill trains after fireworks on July 4th, 2012
MetroLink trains travel in a short tunnel under the historic Union Station train shed.

The St. Louis region only a little bit of heavy rail commuter lines to places like Jennings & Ferguson, Webster Groves, Kirkwood, etc. Light rail in the form of streetcars was the primary type of rail transit in the St, Louis region. A line even connoted Illinois into downtown St. Louis, coming in under Tucker Blvd.

Prior to WWII the bus began to replace streetcar lines — it was smoother and quieter than the old streetcars. The final streetcar line ended in May 1966. So when modern rail transit was being conceived in the 1980s the choices of right-of-way was limited. In 1989, as part of the work on light rail the City of St. Louis traded bridges with the Terminal Railroad Association. The TRA got ownership of the MacArthur Bridge and the city got the Eads Bridge and tunnel under downtown’s central business district.  Rail use of the Eads/tunnel ended in 1974 because then-new locomotives couldn’t navigate the bridge or tunnel. New light rail vehicles, however, would fit nicely. This was an excellent use of right-of-way and a great way to cross the Mississippi River.

Eads Bridge with the Admiral in early 1991
ABOVE: The view to the west of the Sunnen MetroLink station in Maplewood is radically different now, just bare earth.

An old freight corridor was acquired that would take the original alignment from downtown St. Louis through numerous municipalities in St. Louis County toward the airport. On opening day trains didn’t reach the airport terminals, it stopped at the Hanley Station. The main terminal was opened soon after. The East Terminal (#2) station came years later.

The only structure at North Hanley is a parking garage, added years after the station opened.

Extensions were made in St. Clair County, IL and in 2006 a Missouri extension to Shrewsbury via Clayton.

The Shrewsbury MetroLink station opened with the blue line extension on August 26, 2006.

The Blue Line to Shrewsbury was costly as many residents along the alignment wanted the trains underground rather than at grade. The line was built to continue South from Shrewsbury, but nearly 12 years later that seems like a non-starter.

In the 25 years since the original line (Red) opened, and nearly 12 years since the Shrewsbury line (Blue) opened, we’ve not seen any transit-oriented development around the stations. We’ve had some transit-adjacent development, but mostly nothing. This is because smart land use planning wasn’t implemented at each station prior to construction. Development around the Maplewood station on the Blue line has been a lot of new car dealerships.

Tomorrow morning service will begin at the new CORTEX station located between Grand and Central West End (BJC). The CORTEX district tries to market itself as pedestrian-friendly. Compared to most of the St. Louis region, it’s a pedestrian’s paradise. For this pedestrian, however, it’s a typical mediocre attempt at best. Sidewalks are narrow, surface parking lots face rail line, the original CORTEX building still lacks an ADA-compliant accessible route. Ribbon cutting for the new station begins at 10am, I’ll be there, weather permitting.

The new station can be tracked from Boyle Ave on the West, or Sarah Street on the East end, though it’s closer to Boyle. Those using Boyle from the North or South will have no problems tomorrow. Same for those using Sarah from the North. As of Thursday last week, those trying to enter/exit the station from/to South Sarah will have ro use the street.

You’d think finishing sidewalks to/from a transit station would be important, but not in St. Louis
A wide sidewalk runs along the North side of the tracks between Sarah & Boyle, looking West from Sarah Street.
An Eastbound train is seen passing by the station last week.

We’ve invested a lot in light rail, but we’ve not always been smart about it. We’ve not leveraged it to created dense walkable nodes around stations. Going back after the fact is proving just as hard, if not harder, than if it had been done 25 years ago.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Which Age Range Are You In?

July 29, 2018 Featured, Popular Culture, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Which Age Range Are You In?
 
Please vote below

Every so often I like to poll readers to see their ages.This is just my curiosity about who comes here on a Sunday.

For the record I’m 51. Time really does fly by quickly, next month marks 28 years since I arrived St, Louis as an enthusiastic 23 year-old from Oklahoma.  It has been more than a decade since my stroke, more than 4 years since I got married. This halloween will be the 14th anniversary of this blog. Fourteen years!

In the 70s, when I was a kid, people in their 50s were portrayed on television as so old. My parents were older than my friend’s parents, but they were stilll only in their 40s.  Archie & Edith Bunker were an old couple, but Edith didn’t turn 50 until 1977 — in season 8. Her was an emotional 2-part storyline where a man tried to rape her at home. You can watch both episodes here.

In 1978 I got hooked on the show Dallas (1978-1991). Larry Hagman who played J.R. Ewing was 47 when the show premiered. Patrick Duffy, who played younger brother Bobby Ewing, was just 29. Barbara Bel Geddes, who playe70s d their mom, was only 56.  Their father “Jock Ewing” was portrayed by a much older Jim Davis — he was 69 when the show debuted. Duffy is now 69. At that time late 60s was very old for television.

In the 80s you had The Golden Girls — three “older” women in their 50s living together, plus the mom of one. Now that I think about it, Betty White first appeared on The Mary Tyler Moore show in 1973, playing the sex-crazed Sue Ann Nivens — White as 51 at the time.  Moore was 37.

One of my favorite current series is the Netflix show Grace and Frankie (trailer)– the four main characters are all in their 70s (even though Janw Fonda is actually in her 80s). I was also a huge fan of the Roseanne reboot — I loved it when Estelle Parsons, now in her 90s, returned as Roseanne & Jackie’s mom Beverly. Hopefully she’ll return for The Conners.I’m betting Roseanne Conner will die of an accidental opioid overdose. We’ll see on Tuesday October 13th.

Anyway, here’s this week’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. On Wednesday I’ll discuss the results and wish my husband a happy 35th birthday.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis County Voters Can Get Sample Ballots For August 7th Primary Based On Their Address

July 27, 2018 Featured, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County Comments Off on St. Louis County Voters Can Get Sample Ballots For August 7th Primary Based On Their Address
 

A week ago I took a look at issues & candidates facing voters in St. Louis City on August 7th, today is a brief look at St. Louis County. Brief because St. Louis County is highly fragmented with many municipalities, school districts fire protection districts, etc. The County’s ballot content report is 36 pages! County voters can click here for a page that’ll show a sample ballot based on their address. Ballots for each voter isn’t that long, so be sure to review your ballot ahead of time & vote on August 7th.

As last week, I suggested voting no Proposition A.

U.S. Senate & state-level candidates are the same as lsat week. U.S. House District 1 & State Sen District 4 are also in part of St. Louis County. Speaking of U.S. House 1, last Saturday night we attended the birthday party & rally for candidate Cori Bush. The main guest was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex – the 28 year-old who defeated a 10-term incumbent in NY’s 14th U.S, House District. Both women are considered new faces of the Democratic Party.

Cori Bush (left) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (right) at The Ready Room on Manchester.

The following morning Ocasio-Cortez was on Face the Nation with SEn. Bernie Sanders, both in Kansas campaigning for progressive Democrats.

The main race is for the Democratic nomination for County Executive. The television ads for Steve Stenger and Mark Mantovani have been relentless and brutal. I think they’re both right about the other. Will the 3rd candidate on the Democratic ballot pick up votes out of distaste for the two big rivals?

The race that might have a bigger impact is for prosecuting attorney. Ferguson councilman Wesley Bell is challenging Robert McCulloch.

Four years after Ferguson erupted, Bell says bringing reforms to the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office is long overdue. He wants to reform the county’s bail system, moving it to what he calls a “risk-based” process rather than a “cash-based” one. He also wants to expand the county’s drug courts and diversion programs — programs that he claims McCulloch “has never been committed to.”  (RFT)

Wesley Bell is worth considering, his website is votewesleybell.com

Illinois’ primary was back in March, so television ads for governor will just increase between now and November 6th.

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Opinion: We Need To Rethink Our Entire Criminal Justice System

July 25, 2018 Crime, Featured Comments Off on Opinion: We Need To Rethink Our Entire Criminal Justice System
 
Bank of holding cells at police HQ

Decades ago both major political parties both wanted to appear “tough on crime”. which led to knew legislation, sentencing guidelines, etc. The results haven’t been what was expected. Instead of a deterrent to crime, or at least rehabilitation for first offenders, we’ve created a system of mass incarceration.

Over the past four decades, our country’s incarceration rate – the number of prisoners per capita – has more than quadrupled and is now unprecedented in world history. Today, roughly 2.2 million people are behind bars in the United States, an increase of 1.9 million since 1972. We have the world’s largest prison population – with one-quarter of its prisoners but just 5 percent of the total population. And, on any given day, some 7 million people – about one in every 31 people – are under the supervision of the corrections system, either locked up or probation or parole. This vast expansion of the corrections system – which has been called “the New Jim Crow” – is the direct result of a failed, decades-long drug war and a “law and order” movement that began amid the urban unrest of the late 1960s, just after the civil rights era. It’s a system marred by vast racial disparities – one that stigmatizes and targets young black men for arrest at a young age, unfairly punishes communities of color, burdens taxpayers and exacts a tremendous social cost. Today, African-American men who failed to finish high school are more likely to be behind bars than employed. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

This highly profitable system begins early, with the School-to-Prison Pipeline:

A disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out.  “Zero-tolerance” policies criminalize minor infractions of school rules, while cops in schools lead to students being criminalized for behavior that should be handled inside the school. Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline. (ACLU)

So I applaud St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardener for trying to change the current system — changes that will improve lives and potentially reduce crime.

“We’re looking to collaborate more with law enforcement because as law enforcement we have to say things aren’t working and we have to do things differently. So we have to change the narrative of more arrests means safer cities because St. Louis has done a great job arresting and prosecuting and we still are a less safe city,” said Gardner.

Gardner says alternatives for jail would include diversion programs. She said also wants to reform the bail system.

Gardner added she wants her office to reach out to groups that work with offenders to address the root of violence. (KMOV)

Earlier this year 60 Minutes took a look at German prisons, a stark contrast to our prisons:

In Germany, prison isn’t meant to punish, it’s designed to mirror normal life as much as possible. Among the privileges enjoyed by German prisoners: immaculate facilities, organized sports, video games and keys to their own cells. Inmates can wear street clothes and can freely decorate their own cells — keeping all sorts of household objects that American prison guards might consider dangerous. Prisoners who demonstrate good behavior can even leave prison for work or weekend getaways. Average Americans may balk at this level of freedom for convicted criminals, but prisons in Germany cost less and produce far fewer repeat offenders than U.S. prisons. (CBS News/60 Minutes)

Less cost, fewer repeat offenders. We need to admit our ‘tough on crime’ policies are as big a failure as our ‘war on drugs’ policies.

Readers were split in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Do the crime, do ALL the time (including non-violent offenders).

  • Strongly agree 4 [22.22%]
  • Agree 3 [16.67%]
  • Somewhat agree 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree 0 [0%]
  • Disagree 5 [27.78%]
  • Strongly disagree 4 [22.22%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 2 [11.11%]

If we truly want to do reduce crime we must rethink our approach to criminal justice, because what we’ve been doing isn’t working.

— Steve Patterson

Monogram’s Developer Not Closing 17th Street Afterall

July 23, 2018 Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Monogram’s Developer Not Closing 17th Street Afterall
 

A little over two years ago neighbors and myself were opposed to the proposed closure of a short section of 17th Street. The developer of the old CPI HQ, now called Monogram, wanted the city to give them 17th Street between Washington Ave & St. Charles St so they could connect two city blocks into a super-block.

Here are my posts from that time & issue:

We lost, the legislation passed so as work on converting the former office building into apartments we’ve been expecting St. Charles & 16th treets to get widened so they could become two-way — a requirement of closing 17th Street. In the last two years, however, something changed the developer’s mind about closing 17th Street.

The view from a neighbors balcony at 4:30pm in November 2009 — when CPI was still open and the lot was employee-only parking
2012 Entire block of surface parking east of CPI’s building shown in the background

For a few years after CPI closed anyone could park on the lot, but for a short time it became a pay lot. Once construction was set to begin a temporary chain link fence with locking gates was installed.

By May of 2017 lthe parking lot was filled nearly every day with construction workers’ vehicles.
In May of this year they trenched wiring to four new concrete bases for lights. It was at that point I didn’t think they’d widen 16th/St Charles to close 17th.
Then at the end of the last month the new fence posts going in confirmed the street changes would not happen.
By early this month a very attractive new fence was installed.
For years the lot have 4 drives — two on 16th, two on 17th. They fenced off two, leaving one per street. The remaining two got wide sliding gates.
A pedestrian gate is on Washington at 17th. Monogram residents who park here will walk across 17th — like we suggested in 2016.
On July 16th they began resurfacing the lot.
By closing half the in/out drives and not closing 17th/widening 16th/St Charles they get more total spaces than before.

I just wish the months-long battle over closing of 17th could’ve been avoided.

Thankfully the lighting is LEDs that face directory down, not out toward surrounding buildings. More outside lighting should be directed only where needed.

— Steve Patterson

 

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FACEBOOK POSTS

Where am I? Name the intersection and the 3 buildings that are visible.

ANSWER: Jefferson Hotel/Arms at Tucker @ Locust. Christ Church cathedral can be seen through the opening. At left you can see a little of the Park Pacific Apartments (Union Pacific bldg)
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8 hours ago  ·  

Where am I?

ANSWER: Looking northbound at the Tucker median from the Locust Street crosswalk.
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