More Frequent Bus Service Should Begin Next Year

 

 A year from now transit service in St. Louis City & County will likely be different than it is today. Metro, AKA Bi-State, has held informational meetings and hearings on their new plan they call Metro Reimagined. Light rail (MetroLink) will be largely the same, the plan focuses on the …

Sunday Poll: Was the Greitens Affair Consensual?

 

 Last week a special House committee released a report on its investigation into the affair Eric Greitens had before he became Missouri’s governor: He blindfolded and bound a woman to exercise equipment, spanked her, and tried to kiss her without her consent. Those are among the scandalous allegations against Gov. …

Pruitt-Igoe’s William Igoe Died 65 Years Ago; St. Louis Board of Aldermen Started New Session This Week

 

 Sixty five years ago today the person for whom the intended white section of failed Pruitt-Igoe public housing project was named died at age 73: William Leo Igoe (October 19, 1879 – April 20, 1953) was a United States Representative from Missouri. Igoe was born in St. Louis to Irish immigrants. He attended the public and parochial schools …

A Decade Since Developer Pyramid Construction Collapsed; Guidelines Needed for Development Incentives

 

 A decade ago I was about four hours from St. Louis, still in a rehab hospital after my February 1st stroke. I got a call from a friend, a former Pyramid Construction employee, telling me he heard the heavily-leveraged company was shutting down that day. I immediately called someone still employed at …

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Opinion: Plenty To Blame For Region’s Drop From 20th To 21st

March 28, 2018 Featured, STL Region Comments Off on Opinion: Plenty To Blame For Region’s Drop From 20th To 21st
 

Last week we learned nw U.S. Census estimates show the St. Louis metropolitan area dropping from 20th to 21st in terms of population.

Overall, the St. Louis metropolitan area, which comprises 14 counties and the city of St. Louis, grew slightly but at a much slower rate than other parts of the U.S., based on population estimates taken from July 1, 2016, to July 1 of last year.

The Baltimore area, which had been ranked 21st, swapped spots on the population list with the St. Louis region. The city of Baltimore saw a numeric population drop greater than St. Louis city, but Baltimore’s loss represented a 0.9 percent decrease, compared with a 1.4 percent loss in St. Louis. (Post-Dispatch)

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but it is. Many still think a loss of population in the City of St. Louis means people just moved out to the suburbs. While that happens, it isn’t the story. The story is the entire region is suffering from rot. Our fragmented government to awful namesake pizza we’re stuck in the past. Everyone outside St. Louis can tell and steer clear.

The voters who approved the 1876 Great Divorce kicked off the downfall of both the city & region;

What made short-term sense in the 1870s turned into a long-term wall, separating entire generations of St. Louisans and creating barriers that the Great Divorce’s authors never could have foreseen. On the surface, St. Louis’s lower population and tiny footprint—among the smallest of any major American city—make its issues with violent crime look even worse as it annually tops lists of the country’s most dangerous cities. More deeply, the city-county divide creates a duplication of services, the cost of which possibly runs into the billions, and pits the city and county against each other in attracting businesses.

Generations since have been unwilling to undo this mistake. The problem has been leap-frogged by the population shift to St. Charles County. Hundreds of fiefdoms have created thousands of political positions that wan the pond to remain small so they seem important.

The entire region needs a reboot. A complete restructuring. I don’t see the needed change ever happening though. I do see a region that, in time, willl fall out of the top 25.

Here’s the results from the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: The City of St. Louis is the primary reason for the region falling from 20th to 21st.

  • Strongly agree 6 [15.79%[
  • Agree 4 [10.53%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [21.05%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 4 [10.53%]
  • Somewhat disagree 2 [5.26%]
  • Disagree 3 [7.89%]
  • Strongly disagree 8 [21.05%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 3 [7.89%]

— Steve Patterson

Design for Lucas Park Unveiled 110 Years Ago Today

March 26, 2018 Featured, History/Preservation, Parks Comments Off on Design for Lucas Park Unveiled 110 Years Ago Today
 

It was one hundred ten years ago that St. Louis first saw plans for the Lucas Park sunken garden that sorta remains today: From STL250:

This Day in St. Louis History, March 26, 1908:
Plans unveiled for Lucas Park

North of the proposed Central Public Library, plans were unveiled for a “sunken garden” of rich green foliage. The site, along with the site of the Central Library, had formerly been occupied by the massive St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall, which was the premiere space for large scale events in St. Louis from 1883-1907. It had hosted the St. Louis Symphony, three national nominating conventions, and was one of he first buildings in the United States to have electric lights. When it was razed, the entire site had been left below ground and the idea for a sunken park space was developed. Lucas Park still occupies this space, just north of the Central Library at Olive Street between 13th and 14th Streets.

“This photo shows Lucas Park as seen in 1920, with Christ Church Cathedral and the rear of the St. Louis Public Library to the right. The large sign that says “Velvet” is now the site of the curving Shell Building. Missouri History Museum Archives. Swekosky Collection.”

 

The 1908 plans were not the first public park on the site, from an old city website I saved:

Lucas Garden was the site of a brick house built by Judge Lucas in 1820 facing the present St. Charles Street or King’s Road, as it was called. There is still a flowing spring in the Public Library basement that was the water supply for the Judge’s home.

“Desirous of contributing to the ornament and health of the City of St. Louis and at the same time to establish a permanent monument to the memory of his ancestor (father) the late Honorable John B. C. Lucas, in the shape of a public square bearing his name,” reads the deed signed by James H. and Marie E. Lucas on March 24, 1857, giving the block of land immediately north of the St. Louis Public Library to St. Louisians. The deed states further that, “This conveyance is however made with the express condition, to wit: that said public square shall forever be maintained as a public promenade for the inhabitants of the City of St. Louis.”

On the same day in 1857 that he signed the deed on Lucas Garden, James H. Lucas sold the block where the Public Library now stands to the city for the sum of $95,000.

In 1859, a board of improvement for the park was created and its development started.

Its layout caused Locust Street to be closed at 13th and the park was given an asymmetrical plan with a bandstand near the foot of Lucas Place. Sale of the buildings at the southwest corner of the park was authorized by Ordinance in 1872. From the time of the first appropriation in 1858 to 1877, $41,465 was spent on it.

The entire 6.25 acres was named Missouri Park and provided popular downtown breathing space until the erection of the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall in 1883. Licensed to a private corporation for a period of 50 years, the ground was restored to use as a park in 1907 and designs for the Italian Renaissance inspired library building were drawn up by the famous architect Cass Gilbert. The library was completed in 1912.

Locust Street was reopened behind the Library from 13th to 14th Streets and the present sunken garden with its fountain was developed. (source)

The 1875 Compton & Dry map shows the park 8 years before the St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall was built on the block.

 

Since the formal 1908 plan the park has retained the original feel, but lost considerable detail.

1960, source unknown

For example, the reflecting pool & fountain were recently filled in.

Lucas Park March 2014

Hopefully we’ll eventually put back lost details like the center fountain, I’m not holding my breath though…

— Steve Patterson

Sunday Poll: The St. Louis Region Dropped From 20th to 21st In Population, Is This The City’s Fault?

March 25, 2018 Featured Comments Off on Sunday Poll: The St. Louis Region Dropped From 20th to 21st In Population, Is This The City’s Fault?
 
Please vote below

Thursday the St. Louis region found out it had dropped from 20th to 21st nationally — switching places with Baltimore MD.

Overall, the St. Louis metropolitan area, which comprises 14 counties and the city of St. Louis, grew slightly but at a much slower rate than other parts of the U.S., based on population estimates taken from July 1, 2016, to July 1 of last year.

The Baltimore area, which had been ranked 21st, swapped spots on the population list with the St. Louis region. The city of Baltimore saw a numeric population drop greater than St. Louis city, but Baltimore’s loss represented a 0.9 percent decrease, compared with a 1.4 percent loss in St. Louis. (Post Dispatch)

The above quote focuses on the city at the center of each region. Population leaving the city for say Jefferson or St. Charles counties doesn’t alter the region’s population. It’s people that leave the St. Louis region for others like Dallas-Ft. Worth, for example, that reduces regional population. But the region didn’t lose population — it gained 556 based on estimates. Of the 20 regions ahead of St. Louis only one lost population — the Chicago area dropped by over 13,000. It’s still way ahead of 4th place Dallas/Ft. Worth (9,533,040 vs 7,399,662, respectively). According to the Census esteems the St. Louis region is only 837 people behind 20th place Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD. While we gained a mere 556 people they gained 7,147.

This is the subject of today’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

New Book — Suburban Remix: Creating the Next Generation of Urban Places; Edited by Jason Beske and David Dixon

March 23, 2018 Books, Featured, Suburban Sprawl Comments Off on New Book — Suburban Remix: Creating the Next Generation of Urban Places; Edited by Jason Beske and David Dixon
 

The book I want to share with you today is about one of my favorite subjects — what to do with millions of acres of suburban sprawl.

The suburban dream of a single-family house with a white picket fence no longer describes how most North Americans want to live. The dynamics that powered sprawl have all but disappeared. Instead, new forces are transforming real estate markets, reinforced by new ideas of what constitutes healthy and environmentally responsible living. Investment has flooded back to cities because dense, walkable, mixed-use urban environments offer choices that support diverse dreams. Auto-oriented, single-use suburbs have a hard time competing.

Suburban Remix brings together experts in planning, urban design, real estate development, and urban policy to demonstrate how suburbs can use growing demand for urban living to renew their appeal as places to live, work, play, and invest. The case studies and analyses show how compact new urban places are already being created in suburbs to produce health, economic, and environmental benefits, and contribute to solving a growing equity crisis.

Above all, Suburban Remix shows that suburbs can evolve and thrive by investing in the methods and approaches used successfully in cities. Whether next-generation suburbs grow from historic village centers (Dublin, Ohio) or emerge de novo in communities with no historic center (Tysons, Virginia), the stage is set for a new chapter of development—suburbs whose proudest feature is not a new mall but a more human-scale feel and form. (Island Press)

As they point out, the suburbs aren’t going away — 2/3 of America lives there. But they will change.

As always, I like to show the contents:

Introduction by David Dixon

Part I: Setting the Stage
Chapter 1 – Urbanizing the Suburbs: The Major Development Trend of the Next Generation by Christopher Leinberger
Chapter 2 – From the Rise of Suburbs to the Great Reset by David Dixon

Part II: Suburban Markets
Chapter 3 – Housing by Laurie Volk, Todd Zimmerman, and Christopher Volk-Zimmerman
Chapter 4 – Office by Sarah Woodworth
Chapter 5 – Retail by Michael J. Berne

Part III Case Studies for Walkable Urban Places
Chapter 6 – Blueprint for a Better Region: Washington, DC by Stewart Schwartz
Chapter 7 – Tysons, Virginia by Linda Hollis and Sterling Wheeler
Chapter 8 – From Dayton Mall to Miami Crossing, Ohio by Chris Snyder
Chapter 9 – Shanghai’s Journey in Urbanizing Suburbia by Tianyao Sun
Chapter 10 – North York Center: An Example of Canada’s Urbanizing Suburbs by Harold Madi and Simon O’Byrne
Chapter 11 – Dublin, Ohio: Bridge Street Corridor by Terry Foegler
Chapter 12 – The Arlington Experiment in Urbanizing Suburbia by Christopher Zimmerman
Chapter 13 – From Village to City: Bellevue,Washington by Mark Hinshaw

Part IV: Bringing it All Together
Chapter 14 – Planning by David Dixon
Chapter 15 – Placemaking by Jason Beske

Conclusion by Jason Beske and David Dixon

Though this book contains many color photographs, it isn’t a coffee table book. There are plenty of graphs, charts, tables to illustrate the market analysis. The prospect of reshaping the suburbs was one of the most exciting things about studying to become an urban planner — until my stroke ended that prospect.

This book is available in hardcover, softcover, and digital.You can check out a preview here.

— Steve Patterson

Opinion: ‘In God We Trust’ Should Be Removed From Wentzville’s City Hall

March 21, 2018 Featured, Religion Comments Off on Opinion: ‘In God We Trust’ Should Be Removed From Wentzville’s City Hall
 

Last week we were in Wentzville buying a newer car so we decided to make a quick detour to see the controversial motto inside the recently opened Wentzville City Hall.

Chambers of the Wentzville Board of Aldermen

Lawsuits to have this motto removed from currency have failed due to lack on burden, but in a legislative chamber where all citizens should feel welcomed this should not be allowed. It’s unquestionably religious.

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout persons throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize the Deity on United States coins. From Treasury Department records, it appears that the first such appeal came in a letter dated November 13, 1861. It was written to Secretary Chase by Rev. M. R. Watkinson, Minister of the Gospel from Ridleyville, Pennsylvania (US Treasury)

So the motto began on coins because of “religious sentiment” at the beginning of the Civil War. Yes, but “In God We Trust” is the national motto, you might say. Sure — since 1956 during the Cold War.  Another great period in US history — U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy was trying to find all the “reds” in Hollywood.  The same period “under God” was added to the pledge of allegiance. For most of the nation’s history the national motto was E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one.

Although “In God We Trust” is the official motto, “E Pluribus Unum” has long been acknowledged as a de facto national motto. After all, it is on the Great Seal of the United States, which was adopted in 1782. Moreover, in the 1770s and ’80s Congress opposed a theistic motto for the nation, and many of the founders worked hard to prevent one from being established.

In July 1776, almost immediately after signing the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson were tasked with designing a seal and motto for the new nation. In August John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail, that he had proposed the “Choice of Hercules” as the image for the seal. Adams believed that individuals should choose to lead moral personal lives and to devote themselves to civic duty, and he preferred a secular allegory for that moral lesson.

The other two committee members proposed images that drew on Old Testament teachings, but neither shared the beliefs of those today who assert the role of God in our national government. Benjamin Franklin, a deist who did not believe in the divinity of Christ, proposed “Moses lifting up his Wand, and dividing the Red Sea, and Pharaoh, in his Chariot overwhelmed with the Waters.” This motto he believed, captured the principle that “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”

Thomas Jefferson, who later created his own Bible by cutting out all mentions of the miracles of Jesus Christ (as well as his divine birth and resurrection), envisioned “The Children of Israel in the Wilderness, led by a Cloud by day, and a Pillar of Fire by night, and on the other Side Hengist and Horsa, the Saxon Chiefs, from whom We claim the Honour of being descended and whose Political Principles and Form of Government We have assumed.” Of all of his accomplishments, Jefferson selected just three for his tombstone, one of which was writing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, which established a separation of church and state.

The three men worked in consultation with an artist, Eugène Pierre Du Simitière, who rejected all of the ideas of the three committee members. His own first attempt was also rejected by Congress. It would take years and several more committees before Congress would approve the final design, still in use today, of an American bald eagle clutching thirteen arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other.

Only the motto “E Pluribus Unum” (“from many, one”) survived from the committee on which Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin had served. All had agreed on that motto from the beginning.The current motto, “In God We Trust,” was developed by a later generation. It was used on some coinage at the height of religious fervor during the upheaval of the Civil War.

It was made the official national motto in 1956, at the height of the Cold War, to signal opposition to the feared secularizing ideology of communism.

In other words, “In God We Trust” is a legacy of founders, but not the founders of the nation. As the official national motto, it is a legacy of the founders of modern American conservatism — a legacy reaffirmed by the current Congress. (Ohio State University)

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

Q: Agree or disagree: The phrase ‘In God We Trust’ is on our currency, so I don’t have a problem with it on the dais of the Wentzville Board of Alde

  • Strongly agree 7 [24.14%]
  • Agree 2 [6.9%]
  • Somewhat agree 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [6.9%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [10.34%]
  • Disagree 3 [10.34%]
  • Strongly disagree 11 [37.93%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 1 [3.45%]

It sickens me some are so insecure about their religious beliefs they’re only happy if they force them on the rest of us.

— Steve Patterson

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