Potential North-South & County Light Rail Line Should Include ‘Green Track’

 

 No, I don’t want the rails to be painted green. Instead I want the space between the rails to be green with vegetation, where possible. Why? Aesthetics, cooler temperatures, management of stormwater runoff, etc. Green track isn’t limited to only historic lines, it’s increasingly common in Europe with some limited …

Baer Plaza Now More A Dishonor Than An Honor, 25th Anniversary of Dedication Quickly Approaching

 

 I never met Robert J. Baer, but I see the plaza named for him all the time. Baer Plaza, across Broadway from The Dome (map), was named in his honor a little more than 20 years before his death in 2017. The 25th anniversary of the dedication is just 7 …

Glad the Illinois Primary is Tuesday, June 28th

 

 I’ve lived in two states my entire life, Illinois isn’t one of them. But as a St. Louis Missouri resident for nearly 32 years I’ve seen plenty of Illinois campaign television advertisements. Of course, Illinois residents in the St. Louis metro area have seen more than their share of Missouri …

New Residential Building Will Replace Short 1968 Bank Building at 620 Market in Downtown St. Louis

 

 The 2-story building at 620 Market Street, at 7th, was built in 1968. Most recently it was Mike Shannon’s restaurant, originally it was a bank with drive-through tellers. My first time in this building was in the early 1990s when the offices for the East-West Gateway Council of Governments — …

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

November 15, 2021 Featured, Local Business, Retail, STL Region Comments Off on 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 notes.

The Schnucks on Lindell (Lindell Marketplace) was one of two Kroger’s under construction when they left in 1986. National bought this location, Schnucks got it later when they bought out National. Schnucks then closed their Delmar & Kingshighway location, where an ALDI was built less than a decade ago.

It was 35 years ago today (11/15/1986) the first of Kroger’s 54 St. Louis area stores began closing, following their decision to pull out of the St. Louis market after 74 years. Most would reopen as a National, Shop ‘N Save, or Schnucks. These other chains each closed some of their existing locations in older/smaller buildings. Other Kroger locations closed. Cincinatti-based Kroger remains a huge player in the national grocery market.

I moved to St. Louis in August 1990, so Kroger leaving was recent history.  As I recently learned, there’s so much history before Kroger left.  My research is still ongoing, but I wanted to share what I found so far:

  • A & P was already in St. Louis in 1886. A December 20, 1886 advertisement listed 3 locations: 611 Franklin, 1256 S. Broadway, and 712 N. Broadway. [I’d heard of A & P numerous times of the years, but didn’t know anything about it so I turned to Wikipedia: “The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, better known as A&P, was an American chain of grocery stores that operated from 1859 to 2015. From 1915 through 1975, A&P was the largest grocery retailer in the United States (and, until 1965, the largest U.S. retailer of any kind).”  Wow!]
  • A May 5, 1895 A & P ad showed four stores, but one change from 9 years before. The 611 Franklin store wasn’t listed, but 1043 Vandeventer was added.
  • 1901 Straub’s opened, per their website.
  • March 12, 1908 advertisement for Maurer’s meat & grocery stores listed five locations: 8 & 10 S. Jefferson, 2612-14 Franklin, 3858 Garfield, 1402 Market, and 1740 Division.
    9/29/1911 display ad for Maurer-Remley Meat and Grocery Co., 21 locations (not listed)
  • 11/12/1911 David L Remley sues scale co. Recently merged with Jacob Maurer’s stores.
  • 1912 Kroger buys 25 Maurer Remly Meat & Grocery Co. locations. [Maurer & Remley both grew quickly by opening stores or buying out others.  In 4 years Maurer went from 5 to 25 locations before selling out to Kroger. 
  • Saturday  10/12/1912 Kroger bought ground & a plant bounded by Tiffany, vista, rutger, and frisco tracks. Had already purchased 30 Maurer-Remley stores. [25 or 30? stores purchased]
  • Per the Dierbergs website: one store was purchased on Olive, east of the present day I-270. A merchant had opened that store in 1854!
  • Monday 12/16/1935 ad for A&P — the great Atlantic & pacific tea co. 2300 n union, 2905 n Newstead, 4135 shreve, 3127 s. Grand, 3155 Park, 4065 Shaw, 7501  S. Broadway, 5535 S. Grand, 5009 Gravois, 8126 Gravois, 4607 macklind, 118 Lemay Ferry, 5707 Delmar, 6388 Delmar, 6689 Delmar, 6720 w. Florissant, 6208 natural bridge, 8820 St. Charles rock road, 7200 Oakland, 8 s Euclid, 4753 McPherson, 528 n. Taylor, 4389 Laclede, 46 n. Central, 15 s. Florissant in Ferguson, 2533 Woodson Road in overland, 121 n Kirkwood, new store opening 102 Lockwood in Webster groves.
  • Apparently the Schnucks at 10275 Clayton Rd was originally a Bettendorf or a Bettendorf-Rapp store.

    1939 the first Schnucks opened, per their website.

  • Wednesday 3/21/1956: New Detroit based food group ACF-Wrigley purchased Fred P. Rapp Inc includes 10 stores and a warehouse. ACF formed in December 1955 by merger of wrigley stores and big bear super markers of Detroit, standard food and humpty dumpy & subsidiaries of okc, A Wolf Inc, a Detroit wholesaler. They later acquired 13 supermarkets operated by food town stores of Cleveland.  Five new Rapp stores planned for STL in 1956. By early 1957 this will give ACF 40 total stores. Sale includes warehouse at 8590 Page, supermarket at 8455 Gravois. Others leased. Rapp began about 1930 with a small neighborhood store. Opened 2 more in the following 2 years. In 1935 the first 2 were sold. The third, at 3111 Watson Rd converted into a supermarket to begin the chain.
  • December 20, 1956 ad Schnucks giant value markets 4135 Shreve, chambers & west Florissant, 9474 lackland, 9120 Manchester, 4356 Manchester, 6301 St. Louis Ave. [This was the first I found on Schnucks, despite their claim of opening in 1939.]
  • December 1957 meat cutters union dispute with all grocery stores.
  • Thursday 10/2/1957 merger of Bettendorf and Rapp completed today. Both owned by ACF-Wrigley Inc of Detroit. They purchased Rapp in 1956 and Bettendorf earlier in 1957. 
  • 1983 coupon war started by Kroger. They also announced plans to build 5 new stores.
  • Tuesday 10/7/1986: Kroger to sell/close all 54 stores, sell distribution center. Was 3rd largest STL chain. Schnucks (53 existing units) to buy 8 Kroger locations, close 6 existing. Schnucks is #1, National is #2. Independents served by Wetterau are #4. Wetterau is a distributor that services 2,400 independent grocery stores in 26 states! Kroger started doubling & tripling coupons in 1983, causing a price war. Kroger first expanded beyond Cincinatti to St. Louis in 1912 when it bought 25 Mauer Remly Meat & Grocery Co. Kroger cited large number of discount warehouse & independent grocers as reason for closing.
  • Wednesday 10/8/1986: Wetterau Inc to buy 10 of Kroger’s 54 St. Louis stores. These will become Shop ‘N Save. National to buy 26 stores and 560k sf distribution center at 6050 Lindbergh. Two Krogers still under construction: Sarah & Lindell, and north Florissant in Ferguson.  National’s 360k sf distribution center on page will eventually close. National had 45 stores, plus 26 will give it 63 in the metro, plus 8 outside. Heard national would close 9 existing locations. National is owned by Toronto based Loblaw. Schnucks buying Kroger’s at river Des Peres road on south side, Maryland heights, Alton, Cahokia, granite city, and Wentzville. Plus under construction in south county and Brentwood.
  • 11/12/86 elderly upset about Kroger at 3865 Gravois Ave closing. National buying it, but closing. National also buying 4617 Chippewa, will reopen.

Obviously there are huge gaps in my notes. I presume Schnucks bought Bettendorf-Rapp locations from ACF at some point. Eventually I hope to fill in other major mergers/consolidations.

— Steve Patterson

17th Anniversary of UrbanReviewSTL

November 3, 2021 Featured, Site Info, Steve Patterson Comments Off on 17th Anniversary of UrbanReviewSTL
 
A warehouse at the point where MLK & Page meet.

Sunday (10/31/2021) was the 17th anniversary of this blog. In years past I’d have prepared a post looking back and forward, published on the actual anniversary. Now I’m enjoying my final years rather than spend all my free time on the blog.

It was two years ago I disclosed I had cancer. In short, I have stage 4 kidney cancer. I’ll never be cancer-free, it’ll never be in remission. My oncologist described it as a chronic disease.

So far so good. I’m arguably better off now than I was 2 years ago. My last scans (CT & bone scan) showed significant shrinkage of several of my numerous tumors. The reality is eventually my cancer will switch from being a treatable condition to being terminal.

Enough about me, I still spend hours thinking about St. Louis. Here are some subjects on my mind right now:

  • The recent loss of population in the 2020 census will make redistricting a challenge. The predominantly black north side is losing population at a significantly higher rate than the rest of the city.
  • The population is largely black and white — in nearly equal numbers. As a result I’m glad the initial draft of a new ward map has an equal number of wards with a majority population of each. Cutting the number of seats from 28 to 14 is something I still support. My hope is it will reduce aldermanic micromanagement, empowering bureaucrats to make decisions based on policy, not political influence from legislators.
  • I’m enjoying seeing the soccer stadium, front office and training facility be constructed in Downtown West.  What will be more interesting is to see how the surrounding blocks change over time. Will they become more urban, or will parking lots/garages slowly replace existing buildings. If I were in charge I’d made it very difficult/expensive for property owners to raze their buildings for parking.
  • I’m glad to see the lawsuit agains the Rams/NFL moving forward, but I hate the idea of St. Louis getting an NFL expansion team as part of a settlement. Why? This would likely put the north riverfront back at risk of being leveled.
  • North St. Louis is continuing to be vacated. At first middle class whites left, making room for middle class black families. Then the last white families either found a way to move or they died off. Middle class black families began moving to north St. Louis County as lower income blacks moving into north city behind them. Those who remain, with many exceptions, are looking to move to south city or into the county.  The region must reverse the exodus out of north city & county.
  • I don’t have the solutions to the bottom problem above, one thought is maintain the positive pockets. Then turn the remaining areas to natural watershed and/or agricultural land.
  • The proposed Target on South Grand, north of Chouteau, is very exciting. However, the large surface parking lot to the south of the building is only ok if temporary. From the south end of the bridge to Chouteau needs to be multi-story urban buildings. Ditto for the west side of Grand.
  • Additional investment in transportation needs to be made to support those us who don’t have 24/7 access to an automobile. Jobs need to be closer to the areas needing work.
  • As a region we need to reduce the amount of urbanized land per person. This means stopping greenfield development on the edges, focusing on denser development in previously developed areas. This needs to be accomplished equitably.
  • As I’ve said before, we need to prepare for the coming side effects of climate change. I’m not at all optimistic the world’s population/governments will take the necessary steps to reduce damage to the environment. Temperatures in St. Louis will rise. In the winter this could mean pests that used to die off each year stick around. In the summer it could mean am increasing number of periods with temperatures over 100°. I often pass a field at 9th & O’Fallon —the tree lawn for these two streets used to have nine additional trees. Going to the grocery store in summer this area is noticeably warmer. The same problem is repeated throughout the region, usually in lower income neighborhoods.
  • It’s very nice seeing medical cannabis dispensaries in the city & region. Hopefully this is employing people who needed it most. Unfortunately the ownership is those wealthy enough to afford the high cost of entry.
  • Food deserts continue. A Save-A-Lot that opened a few years ago in an inner-ring suburb is closing. It’s increasingly obvious to me slim grocery store margins need customers with a mix of incomes to survive. I’ve seen too many efforts to end food deserts in low-income neighborhoods fail. Near me it looks like GreenLeaf will also fail. The few things I used to get there are no longer available.
  • We can’t solve our climate problems simply by replacing all vehicles with electric vehicles. We must make mobility easier by foot, bike, wheelchair, and transit.

The above are just a fraction of the St. Louis subjects I’ve thought about, it’s a bit overwhelming to me. I can’t turn it off.

Thankfully I’m optimistic I’ll have at least another year to post on the above subjects. Thank you for reading.

— Steve Patterson

Jewish Hospital Merged With Barnes Hospital in 1996, But An Older Jewish Hospital Building Remains Integral To Current Treatment

October 27, 2021 Central West End, Featured, History/Preservation Comments Off on Jewish Hospital Merged With Barnes Hospital in 1996, But An Older Jewish Hospital Building Remains Integral To Current Treatment
 

The Washington University Medical School campus (aka Barnes, BJC) in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood has changed considerably in the last 100+ years. It’s also quite a bit different from when I moved to St. Louis in 1990. It will continue to evolve. This post isn’t a detailed look at the huge number of incremental changes, it’s a look at a little bit of history about the Jewish in Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

It’s not clear to me which medical facility first located within the area bounded today by Kingshighway on the west, Forest Park Ave. on the north, Sarah on the east, and I-64 (US-40) on the south. I do know the automobile either hadn’t been invented, or was just a toy for the wealthy.  Hopefully someone will do a book on the history of medical facilities in the region.

St. Louis’ first hospital for Jewish residents perhaps began with a meeting 143 years ago today, on October 27, 1878. This was just after the city/county divorce so the city’s current limits were already set. Forest Park was still wild, much of the city’s new limits were rural.

Leaders of the city’s Jewish community met at Harmonic Hall to form the Jewish Infirmary and Hospital Association of St. Louis. As early as 1853 Isidor Bush, businessman and philanthropist, had joined with other Jewish leaders to establish a Jewish hospital. After several false starts, Bernard Singer president of the United Hebrew Relief Association of St. Louis, subscribed $1,620 toward the establishment of a home for old and infirm Jews. The meeting that he called was well attended and an additional $870 was pledged.

More money was slow in coming , however, and finally the association revised its plans to allow for the building of a home for the aged and infirm, with a hospital as an appendage. In 1882 the United Hebrew Association dedicated the Home for the Aged and Infirm Israelites at 3652 S. Jefferson Avenue. Today Jewish Hospital, as part of the Washington University Medical Center, is one of the city’s finest medical institutions. (Source: St. Louis Day by Day by Frances Hurd Stadler, 1990, pp204-05)

The author doesn’t connect the dots between the 1882 dedication and the 1990 second printing of her book. I suspect the hospital appendage never happened, but one finally opened:

In 1902, The Jewish Hospital of St. Louis opened at 5415 Delmar Boulevard. Prior attempts to create such a hospital had cited the need to care for the poor Jewish refugees of St. Louis; however, when the Jewish Hospital become a reality, it did so under the directive to afford care to the sick and disabled of, “any creed or nationality.” By 1905, additions to the original hospital building were already required to accommodate more patients, marking the first in a long line of expansions the Jewish Hospital would undergo over the years.

By 1915, the hospital was treating close to 2,000 patients annually. The following years made it clear that further expansion was needed, and in 1920 the hospital purchased land on Kingshighway Boulevard for the purpose of erecting a larger hospital building. The Delmar location was sold, and, following years of construction and funding campaigns, the hospital at 216 South Kingshighway Boulevard was dedicated in May 1926. By the end of 1927, the new building’s first full year in operation, the hospital had treated 5,146 patients. In 1951, a plan was finalized which provided for the integration of three St. Louis Jewish health agencies into what would become the Jewish Hospital Medical Center. The Jewish Hospital of St. Louis merged its operations with those of the Jewish Sanatorium, the Miriam Rosa Bry Convalescent-Rehabilitation Hospital of St. Louis, and the Jewish Medical Social Service Bureau. To accommodate the operations and patients of these health agencies, the Jewish Hospital was required to expand at its Kingshighway location. A building expansion program which included the addition of two new buildings and a six-story wing created room for the patients of the three other agencies to be moved to the newly named Jewish Hospital Medical Center in 1956.

Over its years of growth, Jewish Hospital and its staff have achieved several medical firsts, including performing the first successful in vitro fertilization in Missouri in 1985 and creating the first major in-patient child psychiatric service in the St. Louis area in 1958. When Washington University Medical School and Associated Hospitals (WUMSAH) was formed in 1962, Jewish Hospital was one of the original participating institutions, and in 1963 Jewish Hospital became a major teaching affiliate of Washington University Medical School.

In November 1992, Barnes and Jewish Hospitals signed an affiliation agreement, agreeing to pool resources wherever possible. This affiliation agreement was completed in March 1993 to create Barnes-Jewish, Incorporated (BJI). In April of 1993, BJI and Christian Health Services announced that they would affiliate to create BJC Health System, an affiliation which was finalized in June 1993. In January of 1996, a merger of Barnes and Jewish Hospital, built on the sharing of resources which began with the completion of the affiliation agreement in 1993, was legally completed, and the two became the present day Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Barnes-Jewish Hospital is consistently ranked among the best hospitals in America by U.S. News and World Report. (Wash U/Becker Archives Database)

Only one Jewish Hospital building remains: the 1970s (60s?) Schoenberg Pavilion.

The former entrance to Scheonberg Pavilion is now closed. Entry is only through The Center for Advanced Medicine or the Parkview Tower.
This photo looking the opposite direction was taken just before the oldest Jewish Hospital building on the corner was razed.
This is a crop of the previous photo, you can see a little of the building that was razed to build the Parkview Tower. I regret not taking any photos of the building old Jewish Hospital building before being demolished.

Schoenberg Pavilion was a building at Jewish Hospital, before the 1996 merger with Barnes Hospital — creating Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Today it looks very different than it did then. You cannot directly enter the building from the outdoors — only through the Center for Advanced Medicine (CAM) on the east or the newish Parkview Tower, on the west.  The north side faces Forest Park Ave. and the south side is green space over an underground parking garage.

The south side of Schoenberg with Parkview Tower on the left.
Also the south side of Schoenberg Pavilion, now with the Center for Advanced Medicine on the right.

Inside the Schoenberg name is preset at the bank of elevators inside the 70s building.

Schoenberg Pavilion elevators, 1st floor.
Directory next to the Schoenberg Pavilion elevators. I’ve been to the Cancer Care Clinic a couple of times — this is a referral only urgent care clinic for cancer patients.
Schoenberg Pavilion elevators, 3rd floor.

Inside the entry at the new Parkview Tower is a big sign with mottos from Barnes Hospital and Jewish Hospital.

Jewish Hospital began a dozen years before Barnes Hospital, likely serving Jewish and n0n-Jewish patients. Though probably not black patients for many years.

And finally, in the main floor hallway connection the Center for Advanced Medicine to the Parkview Tower people from the history of Barnes & Jewish are highlighted in a beautiful display.

Four different members of the Schoenberg family going back multiple generations
Hard to photograph, but Moses Schoenberg and David May owned a dry goods store in Colorado. When they moved to St. Louis they opened up Famous-Barr department store. David was married to Moses’ sister Rosa.
This part lists the many medical-related donations family members have made over the generations.

As I receive treatment at Washington University Medical School/BJC I’m thankful for the generosity of those who helped start and continue such a fine institution.

— Steve Patterson

An Open Letter To Missouri Governor Mike Parson & Staff

October 15, 2021 Featured, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Site Info Comments Off on An Open Letter To Missouri Governor Mike Parson & Staff
 
Missouri Governor Mike Parson

Dear Governor:
This post is in response to a Post-Dispatch story pointing out an error in a department website.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is vowing to prosecute the staff of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the newspaper says it uncovered security vulnerabilities on a state agency website.

The governor is characterizing the paper’s actions as a hacking that the state will investigate. He said it could cost taxpayers $50 million.

“Not only are we going to hold this individual accountable, but we will also be holding accountable all those who aided this individual and the media corporation that employs them,” Parson said at a news conference on Thursday. (NPR)

The paper ran the story only after the department corrected their mistake, but you’ve repeatedly described it as “hacking.” I hope this letter will help educate you and your staff.

I’m not a cybersecurity expert, but I’ve been blogging for two weeks shy of 17 years. I’ve never had a class in HTML, nor have I bought a book on the subject. I’m self taught. I’m also 54, so this didn’t come naturally as it seemingly does for younger folks. Speaking of age, yours isn’t an excuse — my oldest brother is 5 years older than you and he gets this stuff without having been a web designer.

Since I just used an acronym above that’s likely foreign to you this may help:

The HyperText Markup Language, or HTML is the standard markup language for documents designed to be displayed in a web browser. It can be assisted by technologies such as Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and scripting languages such as JavaScript.

Web browsers receive HTML documents from a web server or from local storage and render the documents into multimedia web pages. HTML describes the structure of a web page semantically and originally included cues for the appearance of the document.

HTML elements are the building blocks of HTML pages. With HTML constructs, images and other objects such as interactive forms may be embedded into the rendered page. HTML provides a means to create structured documents by denoting structural semantics for text such as headings, paragraphs, lists, links, quotes and other items. HTML elements are delineated by tags, written using angle brackets. Tags such as <img /> and <input /> directly introduce content into the page. Other tags such as <p> surround and provide information about document text and may include other tags as sub-elements. Browsers do not display the HTML tags, but use them to interpret the content of the page. (Wikipedia)

All the <blah blah blah> stuff reminded me of high school & college in the 1980s. The college professor that ran our architecture computer lab liked the word processing application WordStar. It was the DOS days so we had to type things like <B> before and after a word or phrase we wanted to appear as bold on the printed page — it never appeared bold on the screen. Apple’s Mackintosh eliminated this simple coding by doing that in the background. Microsoft’s Windows operating system adopted this as well. The younger members of your staff may not remember DOS or WordStar.

Owning a Mac and using a Mac/Windows at various jobs I thought I’d left coding behind. I had until I began blogging on October 31, 2004. Early on I used 2 different HTML platforms to create my blog & posts before settling on WordPress.  These all do the heavy lifting behind the scenes, but I’ve had to go into the source code over the years to fix problems with how something appears. I’ve also liked how others displayed information on webpages so I’ve looked at their source code to learn. Emails and digital photos also have code. Again, it’s not visible unless someone taps a few buttons or clicks to see it.

Source code is easily viewed by anyone. Hacking is entirely different. This is where someone attempts to gain entry into a computer network or application. There’s always someone attempting to hack into my blog ever week.

I least once per week I get an email from a plugin on my blog letting me know someone (or a bot) repeatedly attempted to login using the default “admin” username. I’m not an amateur, the admin username was removed years ago.

I’d like to think at least one person on your staff understands the Post-Dispatch pointed out the mistake made by the state agency so it could be fixed.  Someone around you knows the Post-Dispatch helped the state by preventing social security numbers of teachers — numbers that shouldn’t have been in publically accessible source code. The other possibility is your entire office is clueless how websites work.

To simplify this I’ll use your own state website as an example:

This is your full bio on the state page, found at https://governor.mo.gov/about-governor/full (click image to view)
This is a screen shot of the source code. I found this by going to the Develop>Show Page Source in my browser (Safari)

I didn’t hack the website. I selected a menu item from a regular web browser — this code is necessary so browsers will display the website as desired. In more complicated databases sometimes it is set up incorrectly so that information that shouldn’t be shown is displayed here.

Someone is attempting to cover their own ass, or protect someone else. Leaders admit when mistakes are make, not try to shift the blame onto those privately bring mistakes to the state’s attention. Yes, an investigation is necessary to get to the bottom of this — an investigation of how social security numbers were displayed in easily accessible source code and why so much hot air to deflect the blame.

Where there’s smoke, there’ fire.

Stop wasting our time and money simply because you’re to shallow to admit you were wrong!  The world already knows it, we just want to hear you say it. Additionally the Post-Dispatch deserves an apology from you. They did exactly what they should have, but you managed to turn a yawn of a subject into national news. Congrats on briefly jumping ahead of DeSantis & Abbott.

— Steve Patterson (a regular Missouri voter for 30+ years)

 

Last Mile to Cahokia Mounds Is Impossible For Pedestrians

September 27, 2021 Accessibility, Featured, Metro East, Walkability Comments Off on Last Mile to Cahokia Mounds Is Impossible For Pedestrians
 

I’ve working on my bucket list in the last two years living with stage IV kidney cancer. Right after Memorial Day I was able to visit Milwaukee, my very first time in Wisconsin. I’m also working on items closer to home that I can safely do during a pandemic. To help me I pulled the 2013 book 100 Things To Do In Saint Louis Before You Die off my bookshelf.  One of several books written or co-authored by my longtime friend Amanda Doyle.

Well, I don’t see myself being able to physically sled down Art Hill, or use a paddle boat in Forest Park. Hmm, visit Cahokia Mounds? I’ve always wanted to see it, it’s likely the only additional  World Heritage site I’ll be able to visit — I’ve been to Independence Hall & many Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, including Fallingwater.

Embarrassingly in my 31+ years living in St. Louis I must admit I’ve never once visited Cahokia Mounds, a World Heritage site only a 15-minute drive into Illinois from St. Louis. Like so many places I thought I could go  &  things I could do in the future, until I became disabled a month before my 41st birthday. I had lived here less than 18 years before I had a massive stroke, meaning I couldn’t walk around the large Cahokia Mounds site. My power wheelchair allows me to “walk” around places like the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Cahokia Mounds:

The remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico are preserved at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Within the 2,200-acre tract, located a few miles west of Collinsville, Illinois, lie the archaeological remnants of the central section of the ancient settlement that is today known as Cahokia. (Cahokia Mounds Museum Society)

The fastest way there is for me and my husband to just drive there. But, I couldn’t see much because I can’t walk far. I also have a manual wheelchair we can put in the trunk, but he’d have to push me or I use my right foot and right hand to propel myself. One of us would get worn out.

I’ve traveled to five different states using transit and my power wheelchair so I should be able to go less than 10 miles. So I looked. Yes, I can roll 8/10 of a mile to the Convention Center MetroLink light rail station, take the train east to the Emerson Park station, and then catch the #18 Madison County bus northbound to Fairmont Ave at Collinsville Rd. Then it’s just a mile west along Collinsville Rd to the entrance to Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (map).

A mile isn’t an issue at all, a week ago I rolled almost 5 miles home from Siteman Cancer Center. Yes, returning home on MetroLink would’ve been considerably faster but I got to see a lot of stuff along my route. I’m on disability so I’m usually not in a hurry. So what’s the problem?

The problem is Collinsville Road is a high-speed (45mph) 4-lane roadway with zero pedestrian infrastructure. None. No pedestrian signals or crosswalks at the signalized intersection near the bus stop. A few businesses near the intersection have a public sidewalk but they’re not connected to each other. Most of the mile distance is just a very tiny shoulder and a ditch. If I were somehow to make it I’d need to cross Collinsville Rd. Opposite the entrance to Cahokia Mounds is a pedestrian sign, but trying to cross 4 lanes of high-speed traffic is a death wish.

Approaching Cahokia Mounds from the east you see it on the left. On the right is a pedestrian crossing ahead sign, next to the ditch.
Further up as you get close to the entrance the road splits so there’s a center turn lane. On the right is a Cahokia Mounds sign pointing drivers left. The driveway to the right has a culvert under it so any water in the ditch can continue to flow.

My thoughts turned to contacting someone to bug them about this. But who? Most of the north side of Collinsville Rd is in Namioki Township, Madison County. Part of the south side of Collinsville Rd & Cahokia Mounds are in Collinsville, St. Clair County. Yes, most of Collinsville is in Madison County, but this part is in St. Clair County. And finally  the the intersection of Collinsville Rd & Fairmont Ave/Black Lane is State Park Place, an unincorporated community in both Madison & St  Clair Counties. Maddening fragmentation!

I suppose an able-bodied person could navigate this last mile, but I doubt anyone would.  Back at State Park Place there’s business on both sides of Collinsville Rd, including a Mexican restaurant on each side. I read somewhere a while ago that one is among the best Mexican restaurants in the Metro East.

My first task will be to contact Cahokia Mounds to see if they have any power wheelchairs/scooters for rent, their website doesn’t mention accessibility at all. I’ll also contact the Highway Dept at each county, though it might take state and/or federal funds to get anything built. I just want to get things…rolling.

Steve Patterson

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