Corrections to the Mill Creek Valley Narrative

 

 I feel the need to correct the record regarding Mill Creek Valley, to counter the false information being repeated. Though St. Louis was founded in 1764 it wasn’t incorporated until 1823. At that time “the city limits were expanded west to Seventh Street and north and south by approximately 5 …

A Look at City Foundry St. Louis…in August 2013

 

 In August 2013 the vacant brake foundry in Midtown St. Louis, Vandeventer Ave. & Forest Park Ave., was an “eye sore” just south the main campus of Saint Louis University.  IKEA’s announcement to build on the opposite side of Vandeventer was still a few months away. I visited the foundry …

New (ish) Book — ‘New Mobilities: Smart Planning for Transportation Technologies’ by Todd Litman

 

 Mobility is very important to our lives, and humankind continues to consider new/different modes of transportation. Both of my grandfathers were born in simpler times: 1886 & 1899. The latter was my maternal grandfather, he lived until the age of 97. He saw and experienced many forms of mobility in …

Research Notes on the History of Grocery Stores in St. Louis, 35 Years Since Kroger Closed

 

 After visiting the newest grocery store in St. Louis last week, I took a deep dive into the history of grocery stores in St. Louis, spending hours in Post-Dispatch archives through the St. Louis Public Library website. I’ll write about the new store soon, but today is my research incomplete …

Recent Articles:

New Book — ‘Scenes of Historic Wonder: St. Louis’ by Jaime Bourassa & Cameron Collins

November 25, 2019 Books, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on New Book — ‘Scenes of Historic Wonder: St. Louis’ by Jaime Bourassa & Cameron Collins
 

Local publisher Reedy Press comes out with many great books every year, usually on a specific subject.  For example 2015’s ‘Downtown St. Louis’ by NiNi Harris (a 2nd edition was just released). Today’s book is different, the subjects are varied. The only common element is they’re oddities.

Quirky, provocative, awe-inspiring, and just plain bizarre describe the scenes captured in this often comical, always fascinating pictorial. The images in this singular collection depict one-of-a-kind moments that we’ll never see again, mainly because they reflect a specific place in time in history. Glimpses of everyday work, family, and public life not to mention scenes of leisure, sport, and entertainment convey what made each period unique. Informative captions place each scene in context and give substance to moments that range from mundane to wondrous and, in some cases, downright wacky. (Reedy Press)

Here’s a list of how the many topics are organized:

  • Old St. Louis
  • Transportation
  • World’s Fair
  • Sports
  • Industry and Innovation
  • Fun and Games
  • Education
  • Everyday Life
  • Hard Times
  • Brews and Food

In flipping through this book the last couple of weeks I’ve learned new things about St. Louis’ history, seen pictures I’d not seen before.

Here’s a small fraction of the subjects covered:

  • Mound City, the opening subject is Native-American mounds that used to exist on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River.
  • Kayser’s Lake, at  9th & Biddle, was one of many stagnant ponds to eventually be drained to get rid of disease and make room for development.
  • The Campbell House Museum opened in the 1940s, but they didn’t have a good record of what the interior looked like in the past — but in 1973 a photo album from 1885 was found!
  • In 1910 a biplane flew under a span of the Eads Bridge (obviously not during flooding).
  • The 1906 demolition of the Farris wheel used in the 1904 World’s Fair, which had been used in 1893 fair in Chicago. Residents at the time considered it an “eyesore.”
  • A steeply-banked wooden motordrome (motorcycle race track) used to exist at Grand and Meramec — that I new. The photograph, however, it not one I’d seem before.
  • I also knew the zoo’s original location was on the east end of  our current Fairgrounds Park (Grand & Natural Bridge), but the photo used is new to me.
  • 3-story outhouse for tenements. Yes, a great photo of a 3-story outhouse structure with walkways to adjacent tenement buildings.
  • St. Louis’ historic Chinatown area, commonly known as Hop Alley, razed in the 1960s for parking for the new baseball stadium.
  • Homer G. Phillips Hospital, for African-Americans, was the result of segregation. It helped train thousands of black doctors and nurses. The photo used isn’t a building exterior shot, but a group of professionals inside working.
  • Four Courts Building, 1870-1917, occupied the block bounded by Clark, 11th, Spruce, 12th (Tucker).

If you’re a St. Louis history buff this book needs to be on your coffee table or bookshelf.

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: Should Red-Light Cameras Return To St. Louis?

November 24, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll, Transportation Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Red-Light Cameras Return To St. Louis?
 
Please vote below

Last week we heard the city is interested in bringing back red-light cameras:

We haven’t seen red-light cameras in St. Louis for a few years, but now the city is considering bringing them back — and the tickets that come with them.

“We’re looking for a tool that can help us save lives,” Director of Operations Todd Waelterman said.

He said police are short-staffed and have too much on their plate, so they’re exploring other options to make the streets safer. (KSDK)

This is the subject of today’s poll.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight. More information, my thoughts, and results Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 24 of 2019-2020 Session

November 22, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 24 of 2019-2020 Session
 

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 15th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 23.

Today’s agenda includes three (12) new bills.

  • B.B.#171 – Ingrassia – An ordinance prohibiting the City of St. Louis, the offices of the City’s Collector of Revenue, Treasurer, Recorder of Deeds, License Collector, Circuit Attorney, and Sheriff, and the City’s Board of Election Commissioners from asking applicants for employment about their salary history, including wages, benefits, and any other compensation, unless otherwise provided therein; and containing a severability clause.
  • B.B.#172 – J. Boyd – An Ordinance relating to the unlawful possession of a handgun by a minor; to be added to the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis as Chapter 15.130.
  • B.B.#173 – P. Boyd – An ordinance approving a blighting study and redevelopment plan for the Goodfellow/West Florissant Scattered Sites Redevelopment Area.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

Readers: Keep Cut From 28 To 14 Aldermen

November 20, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers: Keep Cut From 28 To 14 Aldermen
 
Sausage getting made in the Board of Aldermen’s chambers

Unsurprisingly, the majority of those who voted in the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll prefer to keep the planned cut from 28 to 14 Aldermen.

Q: Agree or disagree: St. Louis voters should vote to keep the Board of Aldermen at 28, rather than be reduced to 14 by 2022.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [2.94%]
  • Agree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [2.94%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [2.94%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [2.94%]
  • Disagree: 5 [14.71%]
  • Strongly disagree:25 [73.53%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

While I agree with the majority, I also think we need safeguards to make sure the establishment doesn’t end up controlling all 14 seats. We need to do something to make sure the members represent all of St. Louis — not just whites, or blacks. St. Louis is more ethnically diverse than just black & white. Do what?

Look at the process for drawing ward boundaries. Will it be fair or will the lines be drawn in such a way as to make it harder for racial minorities to get elected?

Before the 1914 charter was adopted St. Louis had two legislative bodies — a Council and a House of Delegates. The Council had 12 members, plus a president. The House of Delegates had 28.

The 1880 & 1910 census had St. Louis’ population at 350,518 & 687,029, respectively. So population was increasing rapidly, but they cut back on the total number of legislators from 40 to 28.

The freeholders at the time were looking ahead 10-50 years, not more than 100 years. Given our population, reducing to 14 makes sense — as long as we make sure the new 14-member Board of Aldermen looks as diverse as our population.

— Steve Patterson

Examining the St. Louis MLS Stadium Site Plan, Part 2

November 18, 2019 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Examining the St. Louis MLS Stadium Site Plan, Part 2
 

Two weeks ago I began a critical look at the site plan for the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium with a look at the area to the south of Market Street(see Part 1). This area includes practice fields with parking below, new streets, and development sites that have been highway ramps for decades.

Today I’ll look at the area to the north of the stadium site.

Site plan

The north side of the stadium will border on Olive Street, left to right on the top of the site plan above. The blocks facing Olive and to the north are very different than the area south of Market. This area contains both rehabbed buildings, but also vacant parcels just waiting for new infill construction.

Olive Street is major east-west corridor, connecting downtown to midtown and beyond. The stadium will have a two block-long facade along Olive Street, from 20th to 22nd. So let’s begin in the middle — at 21st Street.

Looking north at 21st & Olive from the mid-point of the proposed MLS stadium. The Schlafly Tap Room is on the left, offices on the right, lofts in background at Washington Ave. Click image to view area in Google Street View

The site plan shows a crosswalk at 21st Street to the south, across Market Street. Given this stadium is surrounded by an urban street grid a crosswalk every block makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, the site plan doesn’t show a crosswalk at 21st Street, across Olive Street.

Will people coming to the stadium from the north go to 20th or 22nd to cross 4 travel lanes of traffic on Olive? No, they won’t.  Those coming toward the stadium from the north on 21st will attempt to cross at 21st. If this intersection isn’t designed to stop traffic for pedestrians people will get hit, some killed. Why would anyone use 21st Street to head south toward the stadium?

21st & Locust looking south toward Olive and center of future stadium
21st & Olive, looking east toward 20th
A former Imo’s Pizza on the NW corner of 20th & Olive.
This 2-story building at 2011 Olive was built in 1919.
Two 2-story buildings on Olive between 21st & 22nd have been renovated into offices.

There are lots of lofts, restaurants, and such in the three blocks between Olive & Delmar.  All the streets from 20th to 23rd connect to Olive, it’s reasonable to expect people to use all these streets to walk toward the new stadium.  Some may come from lofts/apartments, with others parking on the streets.

There is also vacant land in this area, some state-owned. Ideally new multi-story residential buildings will fill in the gaps over the next 10-20 years. Ideally St. Louis would limit/ban surface parking in this area. Businesses like Schlafly’s Tap Room already has surface lots occupying more land than their building. A shared-use parking garage with an active ground floor (restaurant, retail, etc) with enclosed walls & ventilation would be acceptable in this area.

Hopefully the non-contributing single story buildings between Olive, Delmar, 18th, & Jefferson will be replaced with two to five story structures. If this area is to become a thriving urban neighborhood it needs to keep surface parking to a minimum.  It’s already bad along Olive heading west toward Jefferson.

The apartments in the background use the NW corner of 23rd & Olive for parking.
The building at 2209-11 Olive, built in 1906, has its own parking. Not sure when this building was “modernized”.
The building on the NE corner of 23rd & Olive was built in 1922.
At the NW corner of 23rd & Olive a large surface lot for the building on Locust detracts from Olive’s importance as an urban corridor.

This is all part of the Olive and Locust Historic Business District — listed on the National Register of Historic Places twelve years ago.

No doubt the area north of Olive will change once the new stadium opens. It remains to be seen if this change will be positive, negative, or neutral. Without a consensus on the future direction, enforced through form-based zoning, my bet is on the negative.

— Steve Patterson

 

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