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Central Library After Hours Book Return For Motorists, Not Pedestrians

Our library system is wonderful, I feel fortunate to live just two blocks from the magnificent Central Library, which recently had a $70 million dollar renovation. Returning a few items the other day when the library wasn’t open I realized the renovation included a new return box.

There I am on the sidewalk in my wheelchair looking for the slot to slide the items in.

East side of the after hours book return at the Central Library
East side of the after hours book return at the Central Library
The return slots are only accessible from Locust, not the sidewalk
The return slots are only accessible from Locust Street, not the sidewalk

I had previously assumed the ramp you see behind the library return box was for passenger loading/unloading, but perhaps it is so pedestrians could easily get into the street to return books & videos.

Most other libraries in St. Louis have easily accessed return boxes, not requiring competing with moving traffic. Here are a few examples:

Central Express 4 blocks east
Central Express 4 blocks east of Central
Baden, far north city
Kingshighway at Southwest
Kingshighway at Southwest
Buder, south Hampton
Buder, south Hampton

Does someone at the St. Louis Public Library think everyone downtown drives everywhere? Returning books a few blocks away means getting in the car? Another day I asked a librarian at the circulation desk who confirmed they only have the one return box.

It appears the new book return is accessed from below so librarians don’t need to go out with a cart to retrieve items, a wise choice given the volume at Central. Not providing a way for pedestrians to return items without having to enter the street is yet another example how everyone involved either 1) drives and didn’t consider the pedestrian viewpoint or 2) deliberately made a decision to make returns a challenge for pedestrians.

Neither is good.

— Steve Patterson


New Books From Reedy Press: Black Missourians, Eckert Summer Cookbook, Do Before You Die, St. Lou-isms

I’ve received a number of books recently, this post is about four from St. Louis-based publisher Reedy Press.


Covers of the four books
Covers of the four books

The first fills in a gap in my knowledge about some names I’ve heard in my nearly 23 years as a resident of St. Louis.

Extraordinary Black Missourians: Pioneers, Leaders, Performers, Athletes, and Other Notables Who’ve Made History by John A. Wright Sr. and Sylvia A. Wright, $19.95.  ISBN: 9781935806479

African Americans have been a part of Missouri from its territorial days to the present, and Extraordinary Black Missourians describes more than 100 pioneers, educators, civil rights activists, scientists, entertainers, athletes, journalists, authors, soldiers, and attorneys who have lived in the state for part or all of their lives. Josephine Baker, Lloyd Gaines, Langston Hughes, Annie Malone, Dred Scott, Roy Wilkins, and others featured in the book are representative of individuals who have contributed to the African American legacy of Missouri. They set records, made discoveries, received international acclaim and awards, as well as led in the civil rights movement by breaking down racial barriers. These accomplishments, and others, have played a major role in shaping the history and culture of the state and nation. Extraordinary Black Missourians attempts to put a face on these individuals and tells of their joys, failures, hardships, and triumphs over sometimes insurmountable odds.

With a look at blacks from all over the state, there are names in the contents I’ve never heard before. Glad to have this indexed book for future reference.


Everyone that has lived in St. Louis knows the name Eckert. Last year I posted about The Eckert Family Fall Cookbook and now they’re out with a summer volume:

The Eckert Family Summer Cookbook: Peach, Tomato, Blackberry Recipes and More compiled by Jill Eckert-Tantillo and Angie Eckert, $12.00. ISBN: 9781935806462

The second installment of the Eckert Family Cookbook Series features delectable, time-tested recipes from their famous summer harvest. From roasted tomato gratin to peach cobbler, The Eckert Family Summer Cookbook covers every category from soups and salads through desserts. Recipes emphasize ingredients pulled straight from the fields during summer months, when tender fruits flourish alongside root vegetables, sturdy greens, and woody herbs. Highlights include corn saute, peach tomato mozzarella salad, pork tenderloin with balsamic peaches, and fresh blackberry tart, among other delights. Tips and techniques for preparation and storage also fill The Eckert Family Summer Cookbook-the latest example that eating locally grown foods is a family tradition for the Eckerts! Jill Eckert-Tantillo is vice president of Marketing and Food Services for Eckert’s. Angie Eckert is vice president of Retail Operations for both the Country Store and the Garden Center for Eckert’s. Both Jill and Angie love to prepare meals for family and friends using the freshest ingredients of the season. They believe the best family memories are made around the dinner table.


Bored? Here’s a book with 100 suggestions on things to do here in St. Louis. Scanning the list I’d say I’ve only done about 20-25 of them, so I’d better get busy.

100 Things to Do in St. Louis Before You Die by Amanda E. Doyle, $15.00. ISBN: 9781935806509

Let’s face it: St. Louis is a big city, and life is short. Whether it’s moving some musts to the “done” column of your bucket list or finding fresh ways to spend your summer in the city, this handy compendium will make the most of your minutes. Bike the Riverfront Trail to the Chain of Rocks Bridge, sip a chocolate malt at Crown Candy Kitchen, hold your breath during the high-wire act at Circus Flora, or admire the architectural and design splendor of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ebsworth Park home: you just gotta do it! One hundred ways to connect with your town await. Special features include insider tips on getting the most from your stops and themed itineraries for the truly adventurous. As the associate editor of Where Magazine for the past 13 years, and as mom to a curious preschooler, Amanda E. Doyle enjoys seeking out the city’s singular charms, including those documented in her two previous books, Finally! A Locally Produced Guidebook to St. Louis, By and For St. Louisans, Neighborhood by Neighborhood and To the Top! A Gateway Arch Story.


Every region has lingo that is unfamiliar to newcomers, St. Louis is no exception.

St. Lou-isms: Lingo, Lore, and the Lighter Side of Life in the Gateway City by John L. Oldani, PhD, $19.95. ISBN: 9781935806448

Do you warsh your dishes and rinsh them in the zink? Do you eat mustgo for dinner? Heard about zombies in Wildwood or St. Louis Hills? Ghostly hitchhikers in Florissant? What or who is a St. Louis Hoosier? In St. Lou-isms, John “Dr. Jack” Oldani documents wholly new St. Louis folklore related to senior citizens, baby boomers, lawyers, nurses, new St. Louis vocabulary, Irish and Bosnian folklore, and even urban belief tales. Dogtown, St. Louis Hills, Valley Park, Wildwood, Ellisville, and other communities are connected through jokes, beliefs, tales, speech, lingo, graffiti, games, and other lore. St. Lou-isms decodes the lingo and traces the stories, shared by all St. Louisans. This book will keep you from being St. Louis “stupid,” or a few clowns short of a circus! You can live, laugh, and learn to leave a legacy! For more than 30 years, Dr. John L. Oldani, a St. Louis native, has been a professor of American Studies and folklore at American and international universities. From his fieldwork, he has collected more than 150,000 folklore texts from the St. Louis area. He is the author of four other books on American folklore, one highlighting the American quilter.

Look for these at local bookstores like Left Bank, AIA, Missouri Botanical Garden, etc., or click the title link to order direct from the publisher.

— Steve Patterson


Gateway Arch Inaugurated By VP Humphrey Forty-Five Years Ago Today

For  a few years now many people have been gearing up for the 50th anniversary of the last piece of the Arch being set into place, that will be on October 28, 2015. I wasn’t born yet so the topping of the Arch isn’t the big deal as it is to those alive at the time, watching it take shape. To many they only knew the Arch grounds as a parking lot.

mage from Jefferson National Expansion Memorial archives.
Demolition of nearly 40 city blocks began in 1939, for decades the area was just parking.
From the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial archives.

This parking lot is the subject of chapter three of a new book: The Gateway Arch: A Biography by Tracy Campbell. If you want a coffee table book on the Arch, this isn’t it. If you want an interesting biography of an iconic object, this is your book. This book will be released on the 28th.

The Gateway Arch was expected to open to the public by 1964, but in 1967 the public relations agency stopped forecasting the opening date. The arch’s visitor center opened on June 10, 1967 and the tram began operating on July 24.

The arch was dedicated by [VP] Humphrey on May 25, 1968. He declared that the arch was “a soaring curve in the sky that links the rich heritage of yesterday with the richer future of tomorrow” and brings a “new purpose” and a “new sense of urgency to wipe out every slum.” “Whatever is shoddy, whatever is ugly, whatever is waste, whatever is false, will be measured and condemned” in comparison to the Gateway Arch. About 250,000 people were expected to attend, but rain canceled the outdoor activities. The ceremony had to be transferred into the visitor center. After the dedication, Humphrey crouched beneath an exit as he waited for the rain to subside so he could walk to his vehicle. (Wikipedia)

Hopefully we’ll have dry weather on October 28, 2015.

— Steve Patterson


Reading: Made for Walking by Julie Campoli

Every so often I get a book to review that I keep repeating “Yes!” as I go through it, Made for Walking is that sort of book:

Landscape architect and urban designer Julie Campoli challenges our current notions of space and distance and helps us learn to appreciate and cultivate proximity. In this book, developed as a follow-up to Visualizing Density (2007, co-authored with aerial photographer Alex S. MacLean), she illustrates urban neighborhoods throughout North America with hundreds of street-level photographs.

Researchers delving into the question of how urban form affects travel behavior identify specific characteristics of place that boost walking and transit use while reducing VMT. In the 1990s some pinpointed diversity (of land uses), density, and design as the key elements of the built environment that, in specific spatial patterns, enable alternative transportation. After a decade of successive studies on the topic, these “three Ds” were joined by two others deemed equally important—distance to transit and destination accessibility—and together they are now known as the “five Ds.” Added to the list is another key player: parking.

This book should be required reading for everyone involved in neighborhoods, development, transit in the St. Louis region – especially St. Louis aldermen. Camponi articulates why it is beneficial to change land use patterns, accompanied by hundreds of images to make her points.

Cover of Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form by Julie Camponi. Click image for the publisher's page
Cover of Made for Walking: Density and Neighborhood Form by Julie Camponi. Click image for the publisher’s page with free chapter download

One example I recognized immediately, the Coal Harbour area of Vancouver BC. Here the sidewalks in an area of new high rise buildings are pleasant because smaller-scale buildings front onto them, defining them.

ABOVE: The Coal Harbor area of Vancouver in 2003
ABOVE: The Coal Harbour area of Vancouver in 2003. Click image to view neighborhood in Google Maps.

Here is the chapter list:

  • Everything is somewhere else
  • Five Ds and a P
  • Neighborhood Form
  • Twelve places made for walking
  • Low-carbon neighborhoods
  • The shape of things to come
  • Good bones

Highly recommended!

— Steve Patterson


Reading: The Eckert Family Fall Cookbook: Apple, Pumpkin, Squash Recipes, and More

November 10, 2012 Books, Featured Comments Off on Reading: The Eckert Family Fall Cookbook: Apple, Pumpkin, Squash Recipes, and More

Fall is here, Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. This year I’m hosting my friends I spend the holiday with. We’ve been together nearly every year for more than a decade now. Even though it’s potluck we all try to find something new and fun to bring to share with others.

This year I’ll likely make one of the recipes in a new local cookbook: The Eckert Family Fall Cookbook: Apple, Pumpkin, Squash Recipes, and More:

For decades, the St. Louis region’s most popular destination for pick-your-own produce has been Eckert’s Orchards. The Eckert family has been preparing delicious meals from foods grown on their farms for seven generations. Eating locally grown foods is a family tradition, and over the years, the family’s collection of delicious fall recipes has grown. From a classic apple butter that has been handed down for generations to a more modern preparation of pork with apple cider reduction, this cookbook has something for everyone. These tried and true family recipes are designed to allow the flavors of the season to shine through. Tips and techniques from the growing fields will ensure successful preparation of fresh ingredients while maximizing flavor. From fall squash to sweet potatoes to apples, these recipes provide inspiration for many memorable meals utilizing the delicious fall harvest. (Reedy Press)

Look for the book in local stores or order online.

— Steve Patterson