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Out of Town, Posts Will Resume Soon

January 9, 2013 Featured, Site Info, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Out of Town, Posts Will Resume Soon

Whenever I plan to be out of town I make sure I have posts until I return. However, as mentioned yesterday,  I had to go out of town for a family funeral this afternoon. The last time I drove a car, until yesterday, was April 14, 2012 when I sold my Corolla (see post).

I rented a car from the Budget office in the Sheraton on 14th Street. Interestingly I was able to come & go at the Sheraton in my power chair using the front revolving door.

ABOVE: Revolving front door at Sheraton on 14th Street
ABOVE: Revolving front door at Sheraton on 14th Street

Most are too small but this generous door allowed me to enter just like everyone else. I took the power chair there just to confirm details and do paperwork, I got a ride to pickup the car. My chair is too big and heavy for most vehicles, especially a compact.

Back in a few days, posts should resume by Sunday at the latest.

— Steve Patterson


Happy Holidays

December 25, 2012 Steve Patterson Comments Off on Happy Holidays

This afternoon I’ll be with a close friend and her daughter’s family. I’ll eat too much and be shocked at how many toys the little ones receive. I hope you have a pleasant holiday.

Best wishes!

– Steve Patterson


Happy Thanksgiving Day!

November 22, 2012 Featured, Steve Patterson 5 Comments

It’s Thanksgiving so I thought I’d share some personal thoughts.  I’m thankful to have been living downtown in my loft for five years now, the 2nd longest of anyplace I’ve lived in St. Louis. The longest was a decade in the two-family I bought in 1994 in Dutchtown.

ABOVE: Interior view of my downtown loft, my first minimalist living space.

I don’t see myself ever moving again, what I have is too perfect for me: zero steps, few interior doors, easy access to transit, etc.

Today I’m hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my friends I spend the holiday with every year, hopefully you’re spending time with family/friends.

— Steve Patterson


Six Months Without A Car

It’s now been six months since I sold my car. Once before I didn’t have a car (2007) but I had a 49cc Honda scooter, so I got around pretty well on my own schedule. Now I have a power wheelchair and a bus pass, not as convenient.

ABOVE: The 30-day pass is different than the monthly pass in that it can span into two months, just depends on start date.

Don’t get me wrong, I love public transit (bus & rail) but I also love cars. I have numerous books on European cars, auto magazines from the early 1970s, etc. I read articles on the Motor Trend iPhone app daily. I’m a car guy without a car!

What I’ve noticed over these last six months is I think differently about time than I ever have since I got my driver’s license nearly 30 years ago (gulp). Just a couple of years ago I would compare how long a trip would take me on the bus to how long it would take me to drive. It doesn’t take long to get most places driving in the St. Louis region and the car was always faster, much faster just a few more miles away. A week ago I visited friends living near Loughborhough and Hampton and it took an hour to get there from downtown. Yes, an hour!

But that’s my new normal, surprisingly so it didn’t seem long. A trip to the Target at Hampton & Chippewa takes 40-45 minutes just on the bus, plus additional time getting to the stop and back home. Same for my doctor’s office, also on Hampton.

I’ve learned to make productive use of my time, often taking pics out the bus window, returning emails, making notes, keeping up on Facebook, etc.  I feel I’m just as productive as with a car, I just schedule things differently. Granted, I’m single and on disability so I’m not dropping kids off at school before going to work. I’m not trying to convince you to give up your vehicle, just note that.

In July I went on an 8-day vacation that included Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Oklahoma City. Amtrak got me to  my destinations and Greyhound got me home, I was able to see so much more on the trip because I wasn’t driving.

I’ve gotten a couple of rides with friends these last six months but I’ve not had to get a taxi to get somewhere, as I thought I’d have to.

Once you don’t have a car for a while your view of time and mobility changes.

— Steve Patterson


What’s In Store For My Next 22 Years In St. Louis?

Will the next 22 years be just as interesting as the first 22?

It was 22 years ago today that I first saw the City of St. Louis, it was truly love at first sight. The city had seen better days long before I was born, but the potential sparked my imagination about what this place could become. Problems were everywhere.

ABOVE: The Darst-Webbe towers on the near south side circa 1990-91, razed

Much was in the very recent past or even still to come:

  • The former St. Louis Centre downtown mall was just five years old.
  • Union Station had only been reopened as a “festival marketplace” for 5 years.
  • The Gateway Arch parking garage was only 4 years old. Current plans call for it to be razed.
  • The Gateway One office building, now known as Peabody Plaza, was also just 4 years old.
  • The 14th Street Pedestrian Mall opened 13 years earlier in 1977, but had already failed. It would take the next two decades to remove the failed experiment.
  • The Kiel Opera House was still open, although it closed months later.
  • Hockey was played in the Arena on Oakland.
  • Getting to/from the airport required a vehicle because we didn’t have light rail.
  • Boatman’s & Mercantile were the biggest banks in town, both local with histories dating back to the 19th century.
  • St. Louis was down about not having an NFL football franchise, the Cardinals had moved to Arizona 3 years earlier.
  • Vince Schoemehl was elected to his third term as St. Louis mayor the year before (1989).
  • The 1990 Census, taken months before I arrived, would show a population of  396,685.  By 2010 I’d witnessed a population decline of 77,391.  Not a small number in 20 years time, but the decade between 1970 and 1980 saw more than twice as many people leave: 169,435.
  • Famous-Barr was the big local department store chain, part of Federated May Department Stores bought by Federated (Macy’s) in 2006. The Famous-Barr at Chippewa & Kingshighway had wonderful urban massing & form. It was razed to build a Home Quarters big box store. The HQ chain closed in 1999 before the store would be built.  Central Hardware was the local home improvement chain, it closed in 1997.

Yes I’m feeling nostalgic, I usually do on anniversaries.  But the real lesson here is people, and the places where they live, aren’t static. Change is a constant.  This isn’t inherently good or bad — it just is.

ABOVE: Showing my love for St. Louis on the wheelchair I use when I need go more than a block from my downtown loft.

What changes will I be able to write about 22 years from now?

  •  Continued population losses? Increases?
  • St. Louis elected first female mayor?
  • Several expansions of the local modern streetcar system connected the city (north, central, south) and the older inner-ring suburbs.
  • Board of Aldermen reduced in size?
  • St. Louis razed the old I-70 (elevated & depressed sections) downtown?
  • City rejoined St. Louis County as one of many municipalities? City, County and municipalities merged into a unified regional government?
  • Daily physical newspaper no longer printed?
  • Earthquake hit St. Louis?
  • Bill Haas elected to an office higher than the school board?
  • St. Louis adopted a city-wide urban form-based zoning code?
  • Tired & outdated Loughborhough Commons replaced with a dense mixed-use development?

I’m as excited about the future of St. Louis as I was 22 years ago. I’m less naive I was then but I’m forever an optimist, albeit a critical one.

— Steve Patterson