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. Before getting into the new bridge we …

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 …

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. …

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. Sounds good, right? But it was way off. My first clue …

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Recreational Marijuana in Missouri Will Have to Wait, Medical Still on Schedule

April 20, 2020 Featured, Medical Marijuana Comments Off on Recreational Marijuana in Missouri Will Have to Wait, Medical Still on Schedule
 
A couple of medical marijuana licenses have been awarded for businesses to operate at 1400 N 7th, December 2019 photo

Today was supposed to be a big day for marijuana advocates. April 20th, aka 4/20, is symbolically important in 2020. However, with most Americans under a stay-at-home order 420 celebrations will be held online — or privately at home.

A couple of months ago a group announced plans to gather signatures to put recreational marijuana legalization on Missouri’s ballot in November. As you can imagine, physically gathering signatures is impossible during an epidemic.

A group called Missourians for a New Approach committee announced Wednesday that it “simply cannot succeed in gathering sufficient signatures” amid restrictions that closed business and forced people to stay home. The group had faced a deadline of May 3 to collect 170,000 signatures.

“We had hoped that it might be possible to persuade the state of Missouri to allow online signature gathering under the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in this spring,” the group said in a statement.

But state officials said no, and the group said “there does not appear to be any other path.” The statement said that the group hoped that the campaign would resume next year, with the goal of placing the issue of whether to legalize the use of marijuana for those 21 or older on the November 2022 ballot. (KY3 Springfield)

The stay-at-home order in the City of St. Louis began four weeks ago today, at 6pm. Even before then I was hoping to begin seeing changes at the future grow location near our apartment in the Columbus Square neighborhood. Nothing to date. I haven’t driven around to the other sites that have been awarded licenses for growing, processing, etc.

Despite the pandemic medical marijuana is still on track in Missouri.

“The coronavirus pandemic hit just about the time the new multi-million dollar medical marijuana industry was trying to get off ground in Missouri.

More than 300 cultivators, manufacturers and dispensaries were all awarded licenses shortly before the pandemic. Voters approved marijuana for medical use in 2018.

This is the phase when all these facilities are trying to get permits and begin construction or renovation. They also need the state to do final site visits before they can begin operations.” (Fox 4 Kansas City)

Hopefully this new industry will stay on track, providing needed medical marijuana for patients and quality jobs.

— Steve Patterson

New Book: ‘The Last Children of Mill Creek’ by Vivian Gibson

April 15, 2020 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book: ‘The Last Children of Mill Creek’ by Vivian Gibson
 

Mill Creek, a vibrant African-American neighborhood, destroyed by Urban Renewal, is one of my favorite St. Louis subjects. So when the publisher contacted me for a review copy of ‘The Last Children of Mill Creek’ I quickly said yes.

A true story of growing up in segregated St. Louis, The Last Children of Mill Creek is the debut memoir by a talented writer finding her authentic voice later in life.

Vivian Gibson is a native St. Louisian who grew up in Mill Creek Valley, a neighborhood of St. Louis razed in 1959 to build a highway. Her family, friends, church community, and neighbors were all displaced by this act of “urban renewal.” In this moving memoir, Gibson recreates the everyday lived experiences of her large family, including her seven siblings, her crafty college-educated mother, who moved to St. Louis as part of the Great Migration, and her at-times forbidding father, who worked two jobs to keep them all warm and fed. With an eye for telling detail, she sketches scenes populated by her friends, shop owners, teachers, and others who made Mill Creek into a warm, tight-knit, African-American community, and reflects upon what it means that Mill Creek was destroyed in the name of racism disguised as “progress.”

The Last Children of Mill Creek is a moving memoir of family life at a time very different from the modern-day, when many working-class African-American families did not have indoor plumbing and when sundown laws were still in effect—and a document of an era that is now often forgotten or denied. In Gibson’s words, “This memoir is about survival, as told from the viewpoint of a watchful young girl —a collection of decidedly universal stories that chronicle the extraordinary lives of ordinary people.” (Belt Publishing)

A family memoir isn’t the usual type of book I’d look at on this blog. It only has one photo, a family photo of a mom reading to kids. No photos of buildings, no maps or charts. Gibson does mention their neighborhood being vacated and razed, but only to provide context.

I’m very glad I didn’t turn it down.

I usually just scan books, but this book I read cover to cover. Yes, it’s a short book — but it still took me a week (post-stroke reading is a challenge for me). Gibson does a wonderful job of introducing the reader to her family and their home that was at  2649 Bernard Street. In doing so she also describes the Mill Creek neighborhood.

Gibson lived with her parents and seven siblings in a 3-room cold-water flat, her paternal grandmother lived alone in the upstairs flat. Yes, a family of 10 lived in just three rooms. Well, her brothers stayed in the basement. Their flat was basically beds and a kitchen. A single light bulb per room. And rats.

With overcrowding into flats lacking hot water, but with plenty of rats, Mill Creek was a slum, right? No, Gibson’s descriptions of her street, neighborhoods, businesses, churches, schools, etc. is of a wonderful tight-knit neighborhood.

Once the current pandemic is over I want to meet Gibson to ask her more about the buildings, blocks, and businesses. In the meantime I’m going to start reading the book again, taking note of the many details she does give. I’d like to see another book — or a film — about the neighborhood.

Many of you likely saw The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, about the failed high rise public housing project. I think someone needs to do a film/documentary about life in neighborhoods a generation before they were razed.  Mill Creek is a good place to start.

Gibson’s book beautifully describes life growing up in Mill Creek, it saddens me it was physically erased. I can’t recommend this book enough, very enjoyable. I’ve spent many more hours thinking about it than reading it.

— Steve Patterson

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GreenLeaf Market Knowingly Blocking ADA Accessible Route

April 8, 2020 Accessibility, Featured, North City Comments Off on GreenLeaf Market Knowingly Blocking ADA Accessible Route
 

Yesterday morning I had minor outpatient surgery (post surgery photo) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Last evening, after my husband left for work as a Home Health Aide, I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and get a few things we needed from the nearby GreenLeaf Market — he’d called earlier to confirm they were open until 8pm. I had my mask on, hand sanitized, and canvas shopping bag on the back of the headrest on my power wheelchair.

Before I continue the story of last night I want to discuss their ADA accessible route — the route for pedestrians off of the Tucker public sidewalk.

During construction I was excited to see the inclusion of an accessible route, though the light post was in the path I could see the striped around it, to the East/right.
GreenLeaf Market opened on April 1, 2019 — just over a year ago.
A parking stop protected the accessible route going around the light base and provided a parking space for a compact car.

It didn’t take long, however, for a change to be made. The parking stop was removed and a cart carousel was put there instead — but it was initially kept back from the light base to keep the accessible route clear. Over the last year I arrived and found the cart carousel pushed up against the light base numerous times. I always extended my right foot and used my power wheelchair to put the carousel back into place for them, then went inside and did my shopping — leaving through the cleared accessible route.

Last night I arrived just before 7pm to find it pushed against the light base yet again. This time a staff member was retrieving carts from the carousel so I asked him to please move it back from the light base.  He said, “go around.” I mentioned the route was an ADA route, that this was a civil rights issue. Unfazed, he continued with the carts.

In hindsight I could’ve handled this differently, but it had been a very long day.

I said I can push it. To I quickly pushed one side away from the light base, it came close to him. He was upset, I was upset. He yelled at the security guard to not allow me into the store — he was blocking the doorway as I arrived. I headed back out but stopped to take the following photograph.

The cart carousel was right where I’d left it.

The security guard came out to tell me to leave the premises immediately, which I did. I went out to the public sidewalk to tweet about the experience. While sitting there tweeting (1/2) I noticed numerous people walking past me, and using the accessible route to enter the store. I also noticed the staff, however, had pushed the cart carousel back up against the light base!

Here a man is using the accessible route to reach the store from the public sidewalk.
When he gets to the blockage he is forced to go around.

Again, I own a big part of this. I had numerous times throughout the last year to point this out to management, but I didn’t. And last night rather than get upset with a guy just doing his job I should’ve just gone around and then mentioned the problem to the manager while leaving with my purchase.

And yes JZ, it can get designed & built correctly and the end user can screw it up. Hopefully I can speak to the manager today. The solution is simple, some pins to prevent the cart carousel from getting pushed up against the light base.

— Steve Patterson

Temporarily Going From Four Posts Per Week To Infrequent Posts

March 29, 2020 Featured, Site Info, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Temporarily Going From Four Posts Per Week To Infrequent Posts
 
A 2012 photo of me on a MetroBus

When I first announced last Halloween that I had stage 4 kidney cancer I said I hoped to continue blogging — keeping up my four posts per week schedule  November though February was manageable.

… Continue Reading

A Trip To The Nearest Park

March 27, 2020 Featured, Parks Comments Off on A Trip To The Nearest Park
 

On Wednesday I went outside, the temperature was nice and I’d been in our apartment for three full weeks — 21 days! I was going stir-crazy.

I decided that rather than just walk a few feet outdoors I’d take my power wheelchair to the closest public park. On the way there a man was sitting on his front porch. I said “Hello” and he replied the same. He was at least 10 feet away, no social distancing violation. He was the first person besides my husband I’d spoken with in person in three weeks.

The main entrance to Fr. Filipiak Park off the SW corner of 10th & O’Fallon. Patrick Henry Elementary is seen on the left.

Here’s the short text from the city’s page on this park:

In 1979, the Rev. Edward Filipiak, for whom the park is named, was a one-man pastorate on a mission to save his church, built in 1844, from demolition. Archdiocese leaders planned a new building nearby but backed off after some former parishioners organized the Friends of St. Joseph, and the National Register of Historic Places designated the twin-spire structure a landmark.

What you’ll see at this park is a grassy knoll of rolling berms and a few shade trees complete with benches and plaques in honor of Fr. Filipiak and those who’ve lost their lives in the line of work. https://www.stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/parks/parks/browse-parks/view-park.cfm?parkID=41&parkName=Father%20Filipiak%20Park

What’s not mentioned is Father Filipiak was brutally murdered in September 1979. His findagrave entry has his photo and a few more details. His murder saved the church, but the 19th century houses that faced 10th Street and backed up to the side of the church weren’t so lucky.

Looking North. A father was playing ball with his two kids. We spoke briefly and from a distance. 
Looking North & slightly East
A plaque honoring Father Filipiak

I think about him and his fight to save the church. If he hadn’t been murdered would the church still be here today?  Or the houses that occupied the land where this park exists — would they still exist.  Anyway, it was just very nice going outside and speaking to other human beings.

Today I’ll be out again but I have to worry about touching stuff and then not touching my face.

— Steve Patterson

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