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Steve Patterson’s Favorite Urban Books

March 25, 2005 Books 1 Comment

The following are some of my favorite books on urban issues. They are presented alphabetically by Author.

– Steve

Green Urbanism: Learning from European Cities
Author: Timothy Beatley

Great ideas that we need to take into consideration

How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built
Author: Stewart Brand

A great look at how buildings change over the years

Cash, Tokens, and Transfers: A History of Urban Mass Transit in North America
Author: Brian J. Cudahy

A must read book on mass transit

Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream
Authors: Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, and Jeff Speck

A great look at sprawl and what can be done about it

The Rise of the Creative Class and how it’s transforming work, leisure, community and everyday life
Author: Richard Florida.

Controversial book looks at changes in classes and how new social classes are changing cities

The Living City: How Urban Residents are Revitalizing America’s Neighborhoods and Downtown Shopping Districts by Thinking Small in a Big Way
Author: Roberta Brandes Gratz

Inspiring book about the importance of the little guy and doing a building at a time

The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Author: Jane Jacobs

A classic. If only planners had paid attention to her 40 years ago

The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America’s Man-Made Landscape
Author: James Howard Kunstler

Kunstler’s first work on cities. A must read.

City Comforts
Author: David Sucher

Packed with those little “comforts” that make a city great.

City: Rediscovering the Center
Author: William H. Whyte

Whyte’s research into uses of public spaces is legendary.


St. Louis Center – Save the Skybridge

February 3, 2005 Books 1 Comment

Never before have I reprinted an entire email received from someone. But, in the case below I hope you get a big smile reading it just as I did:
– Steve

ST. LOUIS – As reported in Martin Van Der Werf’s
column in the Post-Dispatch today, efforts are afoot
to remove the pedestrian “skybridge” from the St.
Louis Centre complex, thereby forever altering the
scenic streetscape along this burgeoning section of
Washington Avenue. In response, a group of concerned
citizens is planning a multi-pronged approach to keep
the historic skybridge intact.

“Changing the dramatic exterior of the St. Louis
Center skybridge would be a mistake,” says Franklin
Jennings, a spokesperson for the ad-hoc “Save the
Skybridge” effort. “Once torn asunder, the views in
this area of eastern Downtown would never be the same.
We consider the skybridge to be part-and-parcel of the
robust nature and dramatic vista of this working
neighborhood. It has been a part of Downtown for
roughly two decades. Our contention is that it should
be serviceable for at least two generations.”
… Continue Reading


Insider’s Guide to St. Louis – NOT!

January 13, 2005 Books 5 Comments

Regular readers of Urban Review St. Louis know that I am working with a couple considering moving to St. Louis from Staten Island NY. As part of our discussions on neighborhoods we’ve focused on areas just North of Delmar (Cabanne) due to proximity to MetroLink, the Loop and the CWE. The architecture is also stunning. Many streets are lined with well maintained homes from loving homeowners who just happen to be mostly black.

As part of their research into St. Louis they picked up the “Insider’s Guide to St. Louis” written by local writer Dawne Massey. Unfortunately, Massey’s insider information is the same old message that continues to damage North St. Louis. We are really killing ourselves when we continue to write off such a large geographic area. I’ve got a few examples.

Massey has this to say about St. Louis’ Greyhound bus terminal:

“Since the bus station (1450 N. 13th St.) isn’t in a desirable location, you should take a cab from the station to your hotel. Also, it’s not a good idea to walk around the
bus station area at any time of day.”

What? I’d certainly walk from the bus station to downtown. The only reason I wouldn’t walk is because the pedestrian qualities are dreadful – but that is not the message Massey is sending to outsiders.

Massey also comments on the the city’s North side:

“There isn’t a whole lot to see and do in the area of town known as the ‘near-north’ side. Other than the historic African-American neighborhood known as The Ville and
the Greyhound bus station, there aren’t too many reasons to venture into this series of older neighborhoods in serious need of rejuvenation. Some local developers are slowly making progress on this front, with new low-income family housing units taking over vacant lots and deteriorating buildings. Annie Malone, one of the country’s first African-American millionaires, was the most famous resident of The Ville, and the neighborhood’s Sumner High School is the alma mater to St. Louisans Tina Turner, Arthur Ashe, and Chuck Berry.”

Hello? How about Crown Candy Kitchen? How about the water towers? How about Hyde Park? How about the Bissell Mansion with its spectacular views and great food? O’Fallon Park? Bellefontaine Cemetery? Calvary Cemetery? Fountain Park? Windermere Place? Scott Joplin House?

I Googled Massey and found references to some articles in the Post-Dispatch Get Out section as well as the St. Louis Blues Foundation. Not Blues hockey but as in the musical style. It seems Massey is the director of the foundation looking to build a museum on Laclede’s Landing.

Anyone in St. Louis that likes Blues must have ventured into North St. Louis a time or two? Those German’s & Irish in South St. Louis may have been great brick masons but Blues musicians they were not. My best memory of Blues in St. Louis is hearing the Bosman Twins not the Missouri Botanical Gardens but at the Moose Lounge (4571 Pope Ave, St Louis, 63115 (314) 385-5700) near O’Fallon Park.

If you are interested in sharing your thoughts on this writer’s take on North St. Louis you can contact the publisher, The Globe Pequot Press via email.

North St. Louis has some of the city’s best architecture and urban streets. Yes, some of it is a little worse for wear but other areas are pristine. It is only when we stop these self defeating statements about the North side will we ever rebuild our city. South City and the CWE needs a strong North side. St. Louis County and the entire region need a strong City of St. Louis. We’ve got to start sending the right messages to ourselves and to outsiders.

– Steve


Is Wal-Mart Good for America?

November 17, 2004 Books Comments Off on Is Wal-Mart Good for America?
An ‘Urban Review St. Louis’ reader alerted me to a new Frontline special entitled, “Is Wal-Mart Good for America?”


It has already aired but it is repeating at 2am on the St. Louis PBS station – set your DVRs to record it. Click here for the web site.



Great photo collection of St. Louis

November 12, 2004 Books Comments Off on Great photo collection of St. Louis

Check out the Thomas Kempland collection of photos taken by J.R. Eike in the early part of the 20th Century. Most are in the Dutchtown neighborhood where I have lived for the last 10 years. Be warned, these are really interesting and time-consuming!