Only 92 Days Until St. Louis’ First Non-Partisan Municipal Election

 

 Another presidential election is behind us…well, most of us. Now it’s time to think about St. Louis’ March 2021 primary.  It began a week ago when filing opened. Here’s a look at the important dates, from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners: 11/23/20: Filing begins 01/04/21: Filing ends 01/20/21: …

Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

 

 Early this week the KMOV News (CBS/4.1) had a story on the Jefferson County Health Department approving a mask mandate — and the upset group protesting outside. The very next story was the St. Louis Area Task Force saying hospital beds, including ICU, beds were filling up with COVID-19 patients. …

POLL: Should Missouri’s Governor Mandate Masks?

 

 The COVID-19 pandemic continues, but the response hasn’t been static since the start: The number of states with statewide mask mandates has risen since the summer, when roughly half of states had statewide mandates in place. Today, almost three-fourths of states have a statewide mandate in place. (ABC News) Missouri …

Population Loss in Six North St. Louis Wards

 

 As I pointed out recently, north St. Louis continues experiencing population loss. In my post on the election results I wrote: Despite the increase in registered voters, six contiguous north city wards (1,2,3,4,21,22,27) had decreases in registered voters. These same six also had decreases in 2016. When the 2020 census …

Recent Articles:

Soccer Stadium, Team Name, and COVID-19

August 15, 2020 Featured, MLS Stadium Comments Off on Soccer Stadium, Team Name, and COVID-19
 

By the time the newly-named St. Louis CITY SC hit the pitch in their Downtown West stadium, now under construction, the bulk of the COVID-19 pandemic should be over…hopefully. Originally they were to join Major League Soccer in 2022, but the current pandemic delayed the MLS expansion schedule a year.

The new MLS stadium is being built North of Market Street, West of 20th Street — exactly where I suggested in February 2016.
The Market Street bridge over the old 22nd Street Interchange is getting filled in.

This delay will greatly benefit the St. Louis CITY SC. Construction on the stadium was just beginning as Coronavirus began spreading in the U.S.  The year delay gives more time to compete the facility and the adjacent training grounds and club offices. The delay also gives them time to make design changes to help in case of future pandemics.

The most obvious would be hand washing stations in public & private areas. The owners & architects are likely discussing other possible design changes:

  • Larger public & private restrooms. Or at least have more dividers.
  • Larger locker rooms, or again more separation.
  • Larger back spaces, like kitchens & staff areas.
  • How to handle lines to enter, for concessions.
  • Potential for high-tech equipment to check temperature of those entering the stadium, locker rooms, offices, etc.
  • How to make the stadium look good on television if a game is played without fans.
  • Materials that resist germs, hold up well to deep cleaning.
  • Equipment to automate the sanitizing of spaces, especially locker rooms.
  • Evaluate the design of HVAC equipment to determine if it meets the newest guidelines for removing contagious air droplets, bringing in fresh air.

There are probably many more design considerations than the above.

The St. Louis CITY SC crest.

Then there’s the name of the team, announced two days ago: St. Louis CITY SC.

We are East of the River and West of I-270. We are Old North and South County. St. Charles and St. Ann. Belleville and Oakville. We are the heart of a vibrant midtown and the soul of dozens of historic downtowns.

Our club represents every street, neighborhood and community in the region, standing up for one another. We are the collective spirit of generations old and young, doers and makers, always looking forward – together.

We are America’s First Soccer Capital and we tenaciously embrace our future. This is our club. This is our home. This is our CITY. (St. Louis CITY SC)

Part of me likes the idea that they’re trying to accomplish — getting us to view the region as outsiders do — a city called St. Louis. Outsiders don’t see or care that St. Louis County is carved up into 90 municipalities, or that the City of St. Louis physical boundaries were frozen in place nearly a century and a half ago. .

Carolyn Kindle Betz, who heads the local ownership group MLS4TheLou, has announced the name and logo for the new Major League Soccer team in St. Louis.

The team is named “Saint Louis City SC” and the color “city red” which borders on the color pink is featured in their logo.

Betz says that the team’s name is a way to bring the region together. The “City” aspect of the name is used by many other soccer clubs internationally. (Fox2)

Betz is right, I was able to find a lot of football clubs with ‘city’ in the name, Manchester City FC is the most known example. It seems not all football…uh…soccer fans like ‘city’ in the name.

Football is full of boring team names like ‘United’, ‘Rovers’ and ‘City’. Look in the right places, however, and you’ll find some really, really good ones. (Planet Football)

It’s interesting how U.S. teams use F.C. (football club) or S.C. (soccer club).  The MLS league will have thirty teams once expansion is complete. Thirteen use ‘FC’ in their names, including the three other expansion teams. With St. Louis CITY SC, the will have four ‘SC’ teams. The remaining thirteen do not use either ‘FC’ or ‘SC’ in their team names.

The colors, crest, etc are all very nice.

— Steve Patterson

Checking Out New Pedestrian Bridge Over I-70 Connecting Old North St. Louis and Near North Riverfront Neighborhoods

August 6, 2020 Accessibility, Featured, North City, Walkability Comments Off on Checking Out New Pedestrian Bridge Over I-70 Connecting Old North St. Louis and Near North Riverfront Neighborhoods
 

In December 2018 MoDOT temporarily closed I-70 to remove an old pedestrian bridge at North Market Street. A similar pedestrian bridge was removed from over I-44 at Marconi Ave, and at other locations.  Yesterday I checked out the new ADA-compliant replacement over I-70.

The East side of the new pedestrian bridge, along Northbound 10th Street, has a switchback ramp.

Before getting into the new bridge we should look at what it replaced. Interstate 70 was built decades before the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, so the old pedestrian bridge had stairs on each side.

This 2010 photo is from the West side along 11th Street. The stairs on each end went  down in opposite directions.

Stairs make such a bridge impossible for those of us who use wheelchairs, but also difficult for people who walk using a cane or walker. They’re also a challenge to a parent pushing a stroller, cyclists, etc.

In April 2019 I snapped this image of construction on the new bridge as I was driving by. Yes, I drive too!

Yesterday’s weather was so nice I decided to check out the completed bridge. It was 1.2 miles just getting there from our apartment near 7th & Cass Ave. I did encounter missing curb ramps in a few places — often missing sidewalks. But I made it.

The access point on the East side of I-70 is at North Market Street. There is no painted crosswalk, no signs warning drivers to yield to pedestrians. No curb bulbs to narrow the crossing distance. Nothing. 10th Street traffic is one-way northbound — and it is fast.
Once safely across 10th Street you see trash has accumulated. The city has equipment to clean streets but tight spots like this don’t get cleaned.
From the base looking up the ramp to the landing. I use a power chair which had no problem with the incline. Being ADA-compliant means the maximum level should be acceptable to person using a manual wheelchair. Every so often there are level spots to give someone s rest.
From the landing, looking back down.
Looking South from the landing
From the very top looking back at the landing
Looking East at North Market Street from the top.
Looking West across the level top of the bridge.
Looking North at Northbound I-70.
Looking South at Northbound I-70. The switchback ramp can be seen on the left.
Looking South at Southbound I-70. The straight ramp on the West side (11th Street) can be seen on the right.
From the West end of the bridge you get an excellent view of Jackson Place Park. This was the center of three circles in the original plan of the separate Village of North St. Louis.
Looking South down the straight ramp on the West side (11th Street).
Looking back up from the bottom.
At the bottom you look across 11th Street at Monroe Street. A new curb ramp was built across the street. Like the other side, 11th is one-way and there is no crosswalk markings, signs, etc.
Back up toward Jackson Place Park you can get an overview of the West side.

It is nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. Highways divided many neighborhoods, many previously connected streets permanently severed. I have no idea how much this cost, but it was worth every penny. The highway is still an at-grade divider at this point, but the bridge makes it possible for everyone to safely to cross over it.

Once the current pandemic is over I’ll take the bus to other new pedestrian highway bridges so I can compare.  Yesterday I explored in Old North, got takeout from Crown Candy, and returned home 3.5 hours after leaving. Roundtrip was about 3 miles.

— Steve Patterson

Checking Out Giant Touch Screen Information Kiosks

July 30, 2020 Featured Comments Off on Checking Out Giant Touch Screen Information Kiosks
 

Way back in January I saw a news story that interested me, but it was too cold out — eight new information kiosks had gone online.

The vertical touch screen information centers provide visitors and residents with information on restaurants and attractions as well as local resources and services.

Kyle Sparks was visiting from Cincinnati and used a kiosk a the corner of 4th and Chestnut.

 “I’ve only been to St. Louis a couple of times and I was just kind of moseying around trying to find out what I could find and these make it really easy,” he said. 

The kiosks are part of the city’s Smart City initiative and have been in the works for two years. The information centers are being paid for without any tax dollars.

“There is no investment from the city or taxpayers to pull this thing off. It’s entirely funded through sponsorships and advertising opportunities,” said Jacob Long, spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson. (KMOV)

I saw a couple white driving home from trips to a store. In late April it was warm enough for me to check them out. However, health and other posts prevented me from writing about them…until now.

An IKE at 8th & Washington Ave.

Here’s what the manufacturer says about the hardware & software:

Designed in concert with Pentagram and built to the proprietary specifications of our platform, every IKE guarantees the best in quality and will complement the aesthetics of any city.

Instead of being relegated to a secondary position on a tablet, the large 65” screens located on both sides of the kiosk are prominent, visually impactful and encourage frequent pedestrian interaction.

IKE is built on an open, multi-lingual data platform that provides maximum flexibility and integration with city data sources. Our software is developed in an agile process, with city partners joining us at the table to develop new ideas and applications.

Our in-house Software Engineering team has full-stack expertise, including infrastructure, scalable backend systems and user interfaces. This allows for the continuous evolution and innovation of our platform and gives our team the ability to customize IKE software to meet the needs of any city. (IKE Smart City)

Let’s take a look.

The other side of the IKE at 8th & Washington.
There are accessibility options the user can select — assuming they can see well enough to select the larger text option.
The sidewalk side of the hardware has a lighted blue 911 button — I didn’t test this.
I did test the ability to have it take your photo and text it to yourself. The photo arrives square, but I cropped it here. This side of this IKE was incredibly slow on April 21st.
So I went over to Market & Tucker to test another.
This screen worked much better than the previous. They may just need to be restarted every so often. Again, this was cropped from a square image. I’m seated in my wheelchair so standing would get more of you in the photo.
Yesterday I saw another at 8th & Walnut
And another was just installed along Tucker at Washington Ave. The cover is still in place. According to the KMOV article, there were 8 initially — 7 downtown and 1 across from Crown Candy Kitchen. Not sure how many are throughout St. Louis now.

I’ve yet to see anyone using an IKE, but downtown has been deserted because of the pandemic. They definitely get your attention, even as a motorist, especially as a pedestrian.

The IKE touch screens are in addition to the static directories downtown provided by the CVC, shown above in this 2013 image.

We’ll see how it goes. I need keep carrying hand sanitizer with me so I can keep testing them.

— Steve Patterson

A St. Louis Statue to be Proud of: Frankie Freeman in Kiener Plaza

July 23, 2020 Downtown, Featured, Parks Comments Off on A St. Louis Statue to be Proud of: Frankie Freeman in Kiener Plaza
 

Recently there have been renewed calls for the removal of statues honoring confederates. Just yesterday:

On Wednesday, the House took a pivotal first step in an overwhelming vote to remove a bust of the fifth chief justice of the United States and Confederate statues from public display in the U.S. Capitol.

The final vote was 305-113. There were 72 Republicans who joined with Democrats in approving the measure. (ABC News)

Another target has been homicidal tyrant Christopher Columbus. Last month the St. Louis statue honoring him was removed.

A statue of Christopher Columbus that stood in a St. Louis park for 134 years was removed Tuesday amid a growing national outcry against monuments to the 15th century explorer.

The commissioners who oversee Tower Grove Park recently voted to remove the statue. It was loaded onto a truck Tuesday, but it wasn’t clear what will become of it. Park officials didn’t immediately reply to a phone message seeking comment. (AP/MSN)

The controversial statue of King Louis IX remains on Art Hill, for now.

Installed in 1906, the Apotheosis of St. Louis depicts the city’s namesake, Louis IX of France, riding astride an armored horse, his sword raised upside down to form a cross. It’s a portrayal befitting a ruler renowned for his military prowess. But the statue fails to address the canonized king’s darker legacy—the totality of his accomplishments—and now, amid a spate of protests against systemic racism in the United States, the St. Louis monument is one of many public works at the center of a major cultural reckoning. (Smithsonian Magazine)

Amid all this controversy I wanted to think about positive role models honored in bronze. The Martin Luther King Jr. statue in Fountain Park came to mind first. Then my mind turned to one of the newest statues in St. Louis, installed in November 2017:

The bronze figure depicts Freeman walking away from the Old Courthouse. It’s symbolic of her leaving after the 1954 landmark case “Davis et. al. v. the St. Louis Housing Authority,” which resulted in the end of legal racial discrimination in St. Louis public housing. Freeman was the lead attorney for the case.

A few days before her 101st birthday, Freeman sat next to the statue on Tuesday and greeted visitors who came to celebrate her, from U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill to former Washington University Chancellor Dr. William Danforth. (Post-Dispatch)

Freeman died the following January. Why does she have a statue in Kiener Plaza?

Freeman, also known as “Frankie Freedom,” was raised in a segregated town in Virginia. She knew she wanted to become a lawyer since she was young. Eventually, she became a civil rights attorney who fought to end segregated housing and promoted equal rights in St. Louis and nationwide during the civil rights movement.

She was also the lead attorney in the court case Davis v. St. Louis Housing Authority in 1952, which helped in ending racial segregation in public housing in St. Louis. “Frankie Freedom” became an assistant attorney general of Missouri and staff attorney for the St. Louis Land Clearance and Housing Authorities from 1956 to 1970.

Freeman became the first woman to join the U.S Civil Rights Commission in 1964, which investigates discrimination complaints, collects data on discrimination, and advises lawmakers and the president on equal protection and the issues of discrimination. She served on the commission for 16 years.

She was also an active member and longtime board member of the United Way and was part of the leadership of the Girl Scouts. (Newsweek)

Freeman spent her entire life working toward equality for all — we should be proud she made St. Louis her home.

Sculpture of civil rights attorney Frankie Freeman, May 2018
After the March 2017 reopening of Kiener Plaza I noted a spot left for a then-undisclosed sculpture.

Further reading see Davis et al. v. The St. Louis Housing Authority at Wikipedia and/or JUSTIA. Watch her on YouTube via Missouri Historical Society.

— Steve Patterson

 

A Look at 207 North Sixth Street, Charlie Gitto’s Pasta House Since 1978

July 15, 2020 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on A Look at 207 North Sixth Street, Charlie Gitto’s Pasta House Since 1978
 

When I first saw Charlie Gitto’s restaurant at 207 North 6th Street many years ago I imagined a small business owner fighting Famous-Barr department store parent company, The May Department Stores Company, to keep its small downtown restaurant open.

Charlie Gitto’s Pasta House stands in contrast to the spiral parking garage exit ramp. At right, the massive Railway Exchange building that housed the May Company headquarters and their Famous-Barr department store, later a Macy’s.
This view shows the East side of the garage which faces both 7th & Olive streets. I adore the green glazed “bakery brick” on the facade.

Sounds good, right? But it was way off.

My first clue was from the recent announcement that Charlie Gitto had died.

Gitto and his wife, Annie, at one point operated as many as six restaurants in the area along with their children.
The couple opened the well-known Charlie Gitto’s Pasta House on Sixth Street downtown in 1978. Their children owned the other restaurants. (Post-Dispatch)

Wait, 1978? The surrounding parking garage was older than that. Though I’d only eaten there once, it looked like it had been there for generations, memorabilia covered the walls. 1978.

So what restaurant was there when the building survived most of the block being razed for Famous-Barr’s parking garage. Was there a fight to keep the small building at 207 N 6th from becoming rubble?

When I decided to seek answers to these questions I had no idea the huge wormhole I was going down. But that’s often the case, especially when searching Post-Dispatch archives.

Before delving into the archives I did a quick Google search. There I found a May 2013 article about how Macy’s planned to close the downtown location in August. It began with this about opening a parking garage:

In September 1922, Famous-Barr proudly opened a new two-story parking garage on Seventh Street, near its bustling department store. It cost $200,000 to build and could hold 400 machines, as cars were known then. (Post-Dispatch).

Wait, 1922? Two-stories?

The spiral exit ramp of the Famous-Barr parking garage is clear in the background as the Kiener parking garages are under construction. The spiral is at 6th & Pine, the Charlie Gitto’s Building is visible next to it. The rest of the block to Olive still exists.

Instead of quickly finding answers I was finding more questions. I ended up using newspaper archives through the library, historicaerials.com, and Sanborn Fire Insurance maps. City records online weren’t helpful because they didn’t list an age for 207 North 6th Street.

Let’s look at what I found in chronological order, starting in 1909.

In 1909 207 N. 6th Street was a restaurant. It had a first floor masonry wall to separate it from the lobby of the Mona Hotel to the North. The 2nd floor over the restaurant was likely part of the hotel since the masonry wall didn’t continue up. Sanborn Co. Fire Insurance Map

So this confirms the site has always been a restaurant, right? Wrong. It was in 1909 and since 1978 but that doesn’t explain which its block got razed.

On January 31, 1922 came the following was on page 3 of the Post-Dispatch:

The Famous & Barr store has purchased, subject to title, the east half of the block on Seventh, between Walnut and Elm Streets, as the site for a four-story or six-story free parking garage for its customers, to be operated on a plan similar to the four-story parking garage that is to be erected by the Scruggs-Vandervort-Barney Dry Goods Co. on the south side of St. Charles, between Eleventh and Twelfths streets.  

So in the 1920s both downtown department stores built parking garages blocks from their stores. The site of this first Famous-Barr garage later became part of the 1966 Busch Stadium and is now surface parking at Ballpark Village.

In the final edition of the Post-Dispatch on November 1, 1960 came front page announcement of a new garage, which continued on page 6.

Famous-Barr Co. will raze most of the buildings in the block across Olive Street from its downtown store and will construct a parking garage for 800 automobiles there, Stanley J. Goodman, general manager, announced today. 

The 10-level garage will occupy the western half of the block bounded by Sixth, Seventh, Olive and Pine streets. Express exit ramps paralleling Pine street will occupy some of the eastern portion of the block.  

The only present stores that will remain in the block are Boyd’s at 600 Olive, Jarman shoe store at 622 Olive and Neels Drug at 207 North Sixth. 

So no battle to save the 207 N 6th St building, also that hasn’t always been a restaurant.

On October 11, 1950 Neels Drugs was located at 521 Pine Street. By October 22, 1959 Needs Drugs, an independent Rexall druggist was located at 207 North 6th Street.

On November 27, 1974 Post-Dispatch restaurant writer Joe Pollack indicated, on page 86, that Rich & Charlie’s was going to open another pasta house…on 6th. The very next month there’s a classified ad run December 27-30 seeking dishwashers & porters — apply at Pasta House Co. 207 N. 6th.

Advertisements for Rich & Charlie’s and The Pasta House Company with identical specials appeared in the October 12, 1975 Post-Dispatch, page 117.

In October 1975 Pasta House Company has a location at Plaza Frontenac, but 6 months earlier Rich & Charlie’s was advertising for cooks, dishwashers, etc at Plaza Frontenac. Rich & Charlie’s began in 1967 at 8213 Delmar, a longtime Pasta House Company address.  Another article described The Pasta House Company as a “affiliate” of Rich & Charlie’s.  Even now I don’t fully understand how these businesses were connected, neither mentions the other on their current websites.

At approximately age 40-41 Charlie Gitto was the manager of the Pasta House Co. chain’s location at 207 N. 6th Street. In 1978 he went from manager to owner of this location, now called Charlie Gitto’s Pasta House. Another pasta house was nearby, Tony’s Pasta House.

— Steve Patterson

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

This message is only visible to admins.

Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Click to show error

Error: Server configuration issue

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe