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North 14th Street Demonstrates How A Pedestrian-Friendly Streetscape Should Be Designed

On September 1 2006 I reviewed the plan for replacing the North 14th Street Pedestrian Mall with North 14th Street: Old North’s Pedestrian Mall May Soon Be Gone! I concluded the post with this paragraph:

“I have some initial reservations about the streetscape plan but I will hold those back until I’ve had a chance to talk with the local residents, the RHCDA and Rosemann Architects. I want to congratulate everyone involved for finally getting a project to this point – I look forward to working with them to see it to fruition.”

The following drawing was included in the post.

ABOVE: Concept drawing from September 2006.

Privately I shared my reservations about the pedestrian circulation.

ABOVE: Close-up of 14th & Montgomery on 2006 plan

Unfortunately I can’t locate the somewhat harsh email I fired off. However my criticism focused on 1) the decorative brickwork and the fact pedestrians couldn’t maintain a straight line as they walked down the street. The green areas were to be planters.  These would have created tight points where pedestrians tried to cross the streets.  Remember, this was 17 months prior to the stroke that disabled me.

ABOVE: Close-up of 14th & Warren on 2006 plan

The planters and the ramp placement would have forced all pedestrians (able-bodied & disabled) to zig-zag at each intersection. At the time I had no idea how annoying such intersections would be from a wheelchair but I did know the concept was not pedestrian-friendly.

June 2010
ABOVE: During construction, June 2010

In June 2010 I was glad to see my criticisms had been observed with the design now permitting all pedestrians to maintain a straight line as they walked from one block to the next.

ABOVE: The final result is very pedestrian-friendly. November 2010

I’m so glad the completed design permits the disabled in wheelchairs to use the same pathway as the able-bodied.  All have lots of room, all can stay on a direct path.  Nobody is pointed into the center of the intersection with angled ramps.  This is how pedestrian-friendly business districts should be designed.

Unfortunately many of the new streetscapes being installed in other areas  do not have the same direct path for pedestrians.

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "13 comments" on this Article:

  1. Justin Shire says:

    we are big fans of the old north city development – unfortunately, until people stop shooting each other on a daily basis we are not able to invest in the area and bring our reasonable priced healthy concept to the 14th street development.

    • I feel safer on 14th than in many other parts of the region.

    • A.Torch says:

      You will find crime much higher than the 14th street area. Including the areas of Dutchtown.

      • samizdat says:

        As a res in Dutchtown, I second this. The Old N. Nabe has been pretty quiet on a regular basis whenever I visit. Don't know what happens at night, but during the day 't'ain't so bad. Perhaps Justin is referring the break-ins under cover of darkness. Plenty of that everywhere. Though from a personal standpoint, except for a minor garage break-in, we have not had any problems *knock wood ;)*

        • Justin Shire says:

          I did not mean it to be a slam but the rate of incidents and severity of the crimes one may feel there is a high rate of violent crime in north city.

          I did not intend to dismiss the work on your project we would be the first to sign a lease to open a labeebees when the neighborhood stabilizes. While I know a lot of work is being done maybe some alternative options or point of views could help stabilize the area. I always say when I am exploring “tough” neighborhoods I judge their progress by their local laundromat. Take a look at the one which is very close to your office I think it's about a block or two west. This could be a good place to help clean up and see if it does any good. Actually if you get volunteers to clean the lot and put some fresh paint etc… I 'll buy them all lunch delivered.

    • Mike Baldwin says:

      I must agree with Steve and A. It seems safe here to me. I have lived in the area eleven years and have never been shot at. I have been mugged and shot at in other neighborhoods of Saint Louis, however. Crown Candy attraction to police officers tends to keep the area pretty calm. More police-friendly businesses would do the same and expand the radius of calm.

      Prior to the re-development, 14th street was a bit of the wild west and you were best advised to stay away especially after dark. Of course, no one will no for sure until we see some actual businesses occupying the street.

      Not sure what your business is, Justin, but based on demographics, it would probably do well in Old North.

  2. Jeff says:

    14th Street is an urban success story, and a model for the entire country. Only one tiny gripe– prior to the overhaul, there were still quite a lot of protruding signs hanging off the buildings, and I think it's a shame that they were all removed. I think hanging signs make an urban street colorful, diverse and interesting, not to mention it's great advertising for the storefront businesses.

    So, Old Northers… are there any plans to re-install any of these hanging signs?

    • Mike Baldwin says:

      While I am a supportive neighbor, I am not sure if you can call it a success yet. I would need to see businesses paying rent and customers shopping to call it a success. Until then, who is paying the mortgage? How long can the one (other than Head Hunters) business survive without additional foot traffic?

      • samizdat says:

        Good point. You can build it, but will anyone come? Big question for most developers these days.

        • JZ71 says:

          Agree. We live in a city built for 800,000, housing and employing less than half that. Do the math – empty storefronts and emptier streets are a direct result of population and job loss. Build it and they will come only goes so far – the real test will be over the next couple of years – as the economy improves, will businesse actually move in? Will the investment be worth it?

  3. Chuck says:

    Looks like a lot of the “embellishments” from the 2006 plan are gone. I think losing those takes away some from making 14th Street a special “space,” but perhaps it doesn't matter. Without business there and pedestrians using the sidewalks, the trees and planters would be a useless waste.

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