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We Drove Through Miles of Sprawl to Reach the Country

September 12, 2016 Featured, Suburban Sprawl 10 Comments

The weather was so beautiful Saturday September 3rd we decided to go out to lunch — in Washington, Missouri. Since my husband hadn’t tried Sugarfire Smoke House, we decided to go to the riverfront location. Granted, we could’ve gone to the one downtown just 11 blocks away from our loft, but we wanted to go for a drive in the country with the windows & sunroof open.

The fastest way was out via I-44, 55 min – 1 h 10 min (51.6 miles) per Google.  A little slower was out I-64 to MO-94, 1 h 10 min – 1 h 20 min (55.5 miles) per Google.  Because it was a nice day and we weren’t in a hurry we drove to Washington MO without using an interstate highway. Though it added an hour, we took MO-100 W/Historic U.S. 66 W — 1 h 30 min – 2 h 20 min (52.6 miles) per Google.

Just a short drive South on 18th from Locust and I turned right onto Missouri 100 — aka Chouteau. I stayed on 100, mostly Manchester, until in Washington, MO.  At one point we were behind a #57 MetroBus dropping off workers to various retail jobs. Wow, mile after mile of super ugly suburban sprawl.

There was a brief break in the ugliness before we crossed over I-44, but we quickly got into Washington’s ugly suburban ring.

Auto-centric sprawl just like you'd find anywhere in the suburbia of large metro regions. Click image to view location in Google Maps
Auto-centric sprawl just like you’d find anywhere in the suburbia of large metro regions. Click image to view location in Google Maps

After turning off MO-100 onto MO-47 we began to enter the charming part of Washington and we made our way to Front Street along the Missouri River.

We could see the river gap, our table on their patio.
We could see the river gap, our table on their patio.

After lunch we took MO-47 North over the river to reach MO-94. We went through Dutzow, Augusta, and Defiance before reaching I-64 to return downtown. We saw great scenery/views before and after lunch, but it was the drive there that reminded me how truly awful most of America’s built environment is.

— Steve Patterson



Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    While I basically agree with everything you posted, I’ll remind you, again, that money talks. Sugarfire doesn’t care where you live or where you come/came from, they care WHERE you spend your money. By spending your money in Washington, it’s one, small, vote for sprawl, and one, small, vote against urban investment. Multiply that by what everyone else does, and bad behavior continues to be reinforced. Next time, take the drive but leave your spending for those areas that live up to your standards! Sugarfire may be in the “charming part of Washington”, but they chose to open their location there because the larger area is growing; they’re not relying solely on the few residents and workers from the “charming part” to survive and make a profit!

    • Fozzie says:

      Agreed. Why not support one of the many, truly local restaurants in Washington?

    • Not sure if the commenter has been there before, but this restaurant is in a more urban setting than the rest of Steve’s drive. Downtown Washington, MO is pedestrian friendly (at least compared to the suburban putting), connected strongly to the river. In fact you can catch a glimpse the rail line that stops in WashMO from the restaurant photos posted here.

      • JZ71 says:

        I’ve been to Washington several times, so yes, I’m familiar with the downtown area (which is why I tried to clarify my comment) and the Old Dutch Hotel & Tavern is one of our favorites. My point is/was that a) this blog is focused on St, Louis, not Washington, and b) Sugarfire now has multiple locations, and that they’re in competition with each other. If you/we want businesses to occupy urban storefronts in St. Louis, you/we need to patronize and support them, not take our business to their suburban locations. It’s no different than why Macy’s closed downtown – it IS all about the money!

  2. Mark-AL says:

    “…Washington’s ugly suburban ring….” It is what it is. It’s an intersection–a place where two or more roads meet. There are thousands of them IN THE CITY. Otherwise, what might you expect to see at this location? Do you object to the traffic light poles? They come with the turf. This isn’t Amsterdam. You won’t find fields of tulips in the US. You have high expectations, Steve. Some might say they’re unreasonable and ungrounded. Do you find this image more attractive?

    In hindsight, maybe you should have taken the trolley to the local Sugarfire. Would have saved gas, wear and tear on the auto, and it would have kept the $ in STL.

  3. Great post Steve. I used to drive the 25 miles between Wildwood and Washington, MO to school (long story) along MO-100 every day. It’s been interesting to see all the subburban development along the road over the years (I still visit family in WashMO on occasion), but not a commute I looked forward to and part of the reason I’ve decided to live in the decidedly more urban setting of NYC.

    • Thanks Matthew. Yes, I recall when you moved to NYC. I enjoy seeing your photos on Facebook. Sadly, the St. Louis region is mostly ugly sprawl with very tiny bit of marginal density/urbanism. It’s no wonder young people like yourself who want urbanism are forced to leave.

  4. Nate Briggs says:

    A phenomenon I call “Anywhere America”. Manchester Road, St Louis – looks the same as Leesburg, Virginia – looks the same as Fort Collins, Colorado – looks the same as suburban Seattle. There are very few physical configurations that are thoroughly friendly to cars, because cars is what we have (because we have to have them).


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