Grand Bridge/Viaduct Not Looking So Good After Only Eight Years

 

 The ribbon for the $20-$30 million Grand bridge/viaduct was cut on August 25, 2012. It looked great that day. Now, eight years later it is not looking so fresh. On Monday (9/14/2020) I crossed both sides, end to end. Ribbon cuttings are appealing to politicians, especially those running for additional …

St. Louis County Moved Mandatory Beg Button After I Complained About Not Being Able To Reach It

 

 Buttons used to activate pedestrian signals are derisively called “beg buttons.” These buttons have long been decried and criticized by advocates for walking, anyway. The buttons’ purpose is less to keep people safe than to reinforce the primacy of cars on the street by forcing people who want to cross …

30 Years in St. Louis

 

 It was three decades ago that I officially moved to St. Louis, from Oklahoma City. I’d planned to move to Washington DC, but instantly fell in love with St. Louis on the way. The building stock and street grid called for me to stay. Many buildings needed renovation but even …

Literature Review: Women’s Suffrage in St. Louis

 

 It was 100 years ago today that the 19th amendment to the constitution was certified, just in time for millions of women to cast their first votes in the 1920 presidential election. By the time the 19th amendment became effective women in some states had been voting for decades, but …

Recent Articles:

Ugly Addition Being Transformed Into New Entrance To Former Post-Dispatch Building, Square’s New St. Louis Offices

June 17, 2020 Downtown, Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Ugly Addition Being Transformed Into New Entrance To Former Post-Dispatch Building, Square’s New St. Louis Offices
 

The work to modernize the former Post-Dispatch office building at 900 Tucker is well underway. Major alterations to a later addition at Tucker and Cole Street will be the biggest exterior change, as you’ll see below.

900 N Tucker, January 2019 photo
This January 2016 photo shows the Tucker side later windowless addition on the north end of the building.
This June 2012 photo shows the blank side along Cole Street.

More than five years ago the St. Louis Post-Dispatch announced it wanted to sell its building, to downsize.

Lee Enterprises, owner of the Post-Dispatch since 2005, announced Tuesday it is selling its building on 900 North Tucker Boulevard and searching for a new location.

The six-story building, completed in 1931, has been the newspaper’s headquarters since 1959, the year that the Post-Dispatch bought the property and printing equipment from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, a now-defunct morning newspaper. (Post-Dispatch)

In August 2018 Jim McKelvey, via StarLake Holdings, was to buy the building, the Post-Dispatch was to remain as a tenant on the top two floors. The purchase closed in September 2018.

The Post-Dispatch decided to renovate and move to a vacant 1980s building a block to the east. StarLake Holdings became Starwood Group.  In July 2019 payment company Square announced it would relocate its St. Louis offices from the CORTEX area to 900 Tucker. Not really a surprise since McKelvey is a co-founder of Square, along with Twitter’s Jack Dorsey.

The Post-Dispatch’s 7th home, 901 N. 10th Street.

Once the Post-Dispatch moved into their newly renovated building a block away, work began on the old building.  Inside at first, but then to the addition.

On May 16th I was driving home and noticed the buff veneer brick was being removed from the concrete block addition.
By May 30th the veneer brick had been removed from the entire west facade and window openings were being created in the block structure.
And window openings also on the north side, also on May 30th
By June 3rd ground floor window openings had been created on both the Tucker & Cole facades. This view shows windows once existed on the Cole side, later bricked up.

I was very happy to see this windowless addition being opened up, but how would it be utilized? On June 7th I got my answer, turns out the main entry will move from Tucker at MLK to Cole Street.

The new lobby will not open to Tucker Boulevard on the west, but to Cole Street on the north. That is philosophical. McKelvey wanted the lobby to face Cole to recognize the untapped potential of the largely African American population on the north side. (Post-Dispatch)

That last line sounds like BS to me, a marketing explanation for what physically made sense with the structure — they wanted to keep the old lobby intact but not as a lobby, so they needed a new lobby. The north addition was their only option.

The morning of June 16th the work on the Cole facade continued. This time the block is being removed entirely. This suggests a different treatment for this section, all glass with the entrance at the sidewalk level is my guess
The view shows the east & north sides.

Given the historic nature of the 1931 original there was no room for anything creative on the exterior. This addition, however, is the perfect place to be creative.  I’m enjoying seeing it evolve.

In December 2011 I posted about how Tucker will become  Downtown’s New Entrance once the new bridge opened, this is the case for many. This new entrance will pop once completed, getting lots of eyes from drivers on Tucker.

In August 2012 I posted about filling in three blocks along Tucker — building new infill to enhance the urban feel of Tucker. Here’s a crude graphic I made at the time.

Aerial of a few blocks of north Tucker showing locations where infill buildings can easily be constructed (blue) and additional spots where they should be considered (red)

Hopefully we’ll see some infill on some of the parking lots, at least on the 3 other corners of Tucker & Cole. In a future post I want to talk about their proposed “innovation district” concept.

— Steve Patterson

Views From The Temporarily Closed Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge (16 photos)

June 16, 2020 Featured Comments Off on Views From The Temporarily Closed Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge (16 photos)
 

In my nearly three decades of living in St. Louis I’ve crossed the Mississippi River on the MLK Bridge many times.

The bridge was built across the Mississippi River in 1951 as the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge to relieve congestion on the MacArthur Bridge to the south. Built as a toll bridge, it was owned by the City of East St. Louis. At one time, it carried U.S. Route 40 and U.S. Route 66 across the river. In 1967, the bridge fell into disrepair after the (free) Poplar Street Bridge was completed; traffic moved to the new bridge, resulting in declining toll revenues needed for maintenance.

Eventually, ownership was transferred dually to the Missouri and Illinoisdepartments of Transportation and the bridge was renamed after Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, after the national civil rights leader was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. In 1987, the states removed the toll for travel across the bridge. A bi-state project for about $24 million to renovate the bridge, at the behest of local civic and government leaders, was carried out in the late 1980s. In the spring of 1989, the rebuilt bridge was reopened. In June 1990, the lighting of the bridge was completed by the St. Louis Port Authority. In the 21st century it is considered an important contributor to satisfying the transportation needs of the region and enhancing the ambiance of the historic St. Louis riverfront. (Wikipedia)

Recently I’ve crossed the river on the MLK using my power wheelchair. This wasn’t dangerous since it closed to traffic in 2018 for maintenance and work on an approach in Illinois. The reopening has been pushed back as flooding last year delayed the work.

After a friend/regular reader walked across the bridge I decided to give it a try as well. I knew from her description that I couldn’t easily get to the south (eastbound) lanes. I had to first roll along the north lanes (westbound), go into Illinois where the concrete center divider sections had been removed, then go back along the south lanes to get great views of the Eads Bridge, Arch, Laclede’s Landing, etc.

I’ve done it twice now, once late evening and the other in the morning. The lighting is different.  I took lots of photos on both trips, but here are 8 from each — in chronological oder.

Tuesday April 21, 2020

You can see my shadow, just before 7pm.
Looking north
I finally reached an opening in the center divider
Looking back toward Missouri
Looking down at Laclede’s Landing
A barge pushing upriver after passing under the Eads Bridge
I was shocked to see occupied houses on low land just north of the bridge approach in Illinois.
Looking north at the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Saturday May 23, 2020

You can see sections where the concrete paving was replaced.
Obligatory Arch & skyline view, sans barge.
In the center you can see the new pocket park under construction on the Laclede’s Landing side of the Eads Bridge, the site of the former Switzer Building. More on this in a future post.
The Illinois side is shockingly barren and flat. A few remnants of industry remain.
One of the reasons the MLK bridge has been closed was this work in Illinois on the roads that approach the bridge.
This month I noticed a change, looks like forming for new bases for new light fixtures.
Looking north again. The north flood gate was still closed.

I may go across again before it reopens to vehicles, it would be nice if the public was invited to cross the bridge the weekend before it reopens.

— Steve Patterson

Eating Out During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Our First Three Experiences

June 10, 2020 Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on Eating Out During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Our First Three Experiences
 

Normally we rarely eat out, I’m home all day and love to cook. Plus eating out often would break our low-income budget. However, we’ve actually been trying to eat out more since restaurants began reopening after COVID-19 pandemic closures.

I’m on disability so I get paid every month, my husband is an essential worker and has been getting full time hours most weeks. Our income has remained unchanged, our stimulus checks were additional income — so we’re trying to spend more than usual to get money back into the economy.

We’ve done takeout, but I’m not a fan of all the wasteful packaging. This post is about three recent experiences where we sat at tables and had a server, in three different jurisdictions.

SPRINGFIELD IL SATURDAY MAY 31, 2020

Right after I took this pic the other tables filled up. I’ve blurred my husband’s face to protect his privacy.
Fast food with a server, outside.

It was a beautiful day, but long story why we went to Springfield. Anyway, at lunch time we decided to try one  location of 400 restaurant chain McAlister’s Deli. Rather than going through a drive-thru and eat in our car we decided to try their patio, the interior dining room wasn’t open. The temperature outside was perfect and they had tables in the shade.  First time trying this chain for both of us.

The tables were 6 feet apart…barely. A server took our orders, we were all wearing masks. Drinks came in usual fast food to go cups, but I’d asked for “no straws” so we didn’t have that waste. The server brought a bill, took my card, returned with a paid receipt. All orders were to go but we could sit and eat so there was no tip option.

Neither of us had enough cash to tip our server so we ordered two cookies for dessert and asked about leaving a tip on our card. The server wasn’t sure. She returned with our cookies and a dine-in credit card receipt. This allowed me to add a tip to cover our original and dessert orders — a total of $25.52. I added a $12 tip because she was doing a lot of running inside and out, may not have been getting any tips. The two women seated closest to use did give her a cash tip. I chatted briefly with them, which was nice to experience again.

All our trash went back into the big to go bag and into a trash barrel. My husband then went inside to use the open restrooms.

Better than going through their drive-thru and eating the food in our car. I noticed they had an accessible route from the public sidewalk to the building, something I look for even when driving.

RICHMOND HEIGHTS, MO (ST LOUIS COUNTY) WEDNESDAY JUNE 3, 2020

My husband had a long dinner break between his afternoon and evening clients, both in St. Louis County. We decided to meet for dinner since I could take transit to meet him at a location midway between his clients.  This saved him driving home for dinner or eating alone.

This Wednesday evening it was a hot day out, but I stayed cool while on Metrolink. We’d decided on the relatively new Red Robin at South Hanley & Dale.  I think it was a Red Robin I ate at about 15 years ago, in Kirkwood. My husband had never been to one before.

Exterior of the newish Red Robin in Richmond Heights
Dining room, the red balloons mark tables where the host cannot seat guests.
Signs with the balloons explains why they are there

This time we got to sit in the dining room. All the tables were still in place but balloons & signs at many created spacing and reduced total capacity.  Nice dining room, an upgrade from the patio the previous Saturday. This time we had our drinks in real glass glasses, but still no straws! A folded paper menu created a pocket to hold plastic-wrapped utensils and napkin.  Our server wore latex gloves when bringing out our food — on real plates no less. But our utensils were plastic.

Plastic utensils & paper napkins, at these prices? Our server said they used to use metal utensils in the dining room.
I took home half of my mac & cheese, I reused my salad dressing and my husband’s ketchup containers to do so.

Total with tip: $31.03. Payment was via a wireless tabletop device from Ziosk.  It was older, would only accept a physical card swipe or Samsung Pay — no chip reader or Apple Pay. I have some cards that are contactless, I should’ve tried one of those.

My 2nd time using a Ziosk at the table
Hmm, I should’ve slid the tip scale a little higher than the default of 20%. Or maybe I increased it from a lower percentage — I can’t remember.

This Red Robin location, like most, is company-owned, not a locally-owned franchise (yes, I asked).

SAINT LOUIS, MO SUNDAY JUNE 7, 2020

We went out for dinner again to celebrate the night before our 6th wedding anniversary. Not only did we want nice, we wanted local. We picked PW Pizza on Chouteau. I’d only been there a couple of times for meetings while working on participatory budgeting, my husband had never been before. We’d both been to Vin de Set, roof level, once.

I loved the interior, being able to see food in the big mirrors over the kitchen.
We were there late on a Sunday afternoon so they weren’t busy yet. It appeared like many tables & chairs had been removed.

We said booth when the host asked table or booth, he then tried to seat us at a booth immediately next to an occupied booth. He didn’t hesitate when I asked it we could sit one more booth over. They do have fixed plexiglass added between booths but why not be further apart when not busy?

Plexiglas partitions were added between their four booths in the main dining room

Again we have real glasses for our beverages, but we also had metal utensils rolled up in cloth napkins. We went to a pizza place but we both ended up ordering calzones. Like the previous two the menus were single use paper. On the front I noticed EOB for Employee Owned Business. I knew the P & W of PW Pizza stood for Paul & Wendy, so I asked. Their company has a program where full-time employees can earn shares in the company — an ownership stake. I’m a huge fan of EOBs, that’s one reason I buy King Arthur Flour.

 

Yes, I love cloth napkins, Every meal we have at home includes them, there is even one in my husband’s work lunch bag. For me this is an expectation of an upscale meal.
Paper menus don’t feel as nice as a heavy dinner menu, but it’s a fair trade off.
And inside the cloth napkin is metal utensils. Why couldn’t Red Robin have done this?
The menu is also a marketing opportunity.

Nobody that came to our table with beverages or food wore gloves. Not sure that makes a difference, just noting it. Our total before tip was $28.26. No contactless payment was available, I had to surrender my card. After inquiring they offered to manually enter the card number rather than swiping it. They said they’d wipe off the card after touching it, ink pens used to add tip get wiped off after every use.

Our calzones

CLOSING THOUGHTS

A month or so ago I’d have told you it would be a year before I’d be comfortable eating out, but even rarely it feels real good to be pampered at mealtime. Especially as a househusbands who plans & prepares all our meals.

This does remind me of the time before smoking bans, when I’d have to research a restaurant to see if smoking was banned or allowed. Now I want to research ahead of time to find out their pandemic-era measures, contactless payment, etc. Like the old days, the websites & social media posts will likely fail to communicate the information I’m seeking. Big chains will have an advantage.

It does feel good to eat a meal I didn’t have to prepare or cleanup, but also on real plates with cloth napkins (like at home). If I’m paying to eat out I don’t want plastic utensils, plastic cups, or paper napkins.

It’ll be interesting to see how the food service industry changes/adapts as the months go by. Hopefully small restaurant owners can make changes while surviving on reduced capacity.

Hoping For A Better World Before I Stop Breathing

June 8, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Popular Culture, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Hoping For A Better World Before I Stop Breathing
 
Black Lives Matter sign along Gravois

I can still breath, but far too many can’t anymore — due to police brutality.  Here’s how Cambridge Dictionary defines brutality:

/bru??tæl.?.ti/ behavior that is very cruel or violent and showing no feelings for others.

Cruel or violent. No feelings for others.

The Police aren’t cruel & violent toward everyone, their clear target is black women & men. Breonna Taylor & George Floyd were the most recent victims.

I was just over a year old when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. The killing of unarmed black men had been going on for decades at that point, though it didn’t make the news then. Now it seems we’re still grappling with one senseless killing when another occurs.

Since I was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer last fall I’ve cried a lot. But I’ve come to accept I have 1-10 years left to live. What’s harder to accept is my final years will likely be marked by a deadly virus and the continued killing of young unarmed black women & men.

I know as a white male I’ve been fortunate. My mom didn’t have to worry if I’d be killed just for being myself. Actually that’s not quite true, as a very out gay man my mom worried about AIDS or me being beaten to death.

Still I’ve lived my 53+ years unafraid of the police. I’ve been pulled over before and given the officers a hard time about not wearing their seat belts — a black person could never do such a thing. I grew up in Oklahoma City but never heard a word about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre when white mobs entered and destroyed a thriving segregated Black Wall Street. Not. A. Word.

Aerial over Washington DC shows BLACK LIVES MATTER in huge letters leading to the White House

Peaceful protests are the foundation of our democracy. Seeing the many protests all over our region is very encouraging. I have friends out protesting, I’d join them if it was physically possible.

Those who started riots & looting are not protestors, they’re agitators. They come out when the opportunity arises. The protestors are not rioters. Protestors are not looters.

The 7-11 at 17th & Pine was burned a week ago.

White folks are often uncomfortable during times like this when there are mass protests. Good! Black folks are uncomfortable every day so it’s about damn time white folks feel uncomfortable.

When I’ve cried the last few weeks it’s not because I’m going to die in the coming decade, but because young black  women & men have died so violently at the hands (knees) of police, citizen vigilantes, etc. Recently I also cry every time I see the video of the old white man shoved to the pavement by police in Buffalo NY. They just kept walking past him. Cruel & violent indeed.

Homemade billboard along SB I-55 in Illinois demonstrates the slave owner mentality still exists. Location is just south of Farmersville IL in Montgomery County.

The defense is often just following orders, following the lead of higher rank police. The culture of the institution is the problem, in every city from coast to coast. It’s pervasive. Old institutions take forever to change, but my time is limited.

I thought after Rodney King things would change. I thought so again after Michael Brown. Small incremental changes around the edges isn’t enough. We must rethink what policing means in 21st century America, including discussions around dismantling & defunding.

We must stop treating our black citizens like escaped slaves.

My bucket list includes travel and such, but I’d forget it all just to not have any more unarmed blacks killed. I’d like to go out knowing the world will get better, not worse, after I’ve stopped breathing.

Black Lives Matter!

— Steve Patterson

NEW POLL: Will You Vote In Person or Absentee In The Next Election In Your State?

May 31, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on NEW POLL: Will You Vote In Person or Absentee In The Next Election In Your State?
 
Please vote below

The Republican-controlled Missouri legislature passed a bill making it easier for some in the state to vote through the end of 2020:

State lawmakers earlier this month sent [Gov] Parson a bill that would allow people considered at-risk — those age 65 and older, living in a long-term care facility or with certain existing health problems — could vote absentee without needing to have their ballot notarized. Anyone else could cast a mail-in ballot but would need to get it notarized.

Parson hasn’t taken action on the bill yet. It would only apply to the August primary and November general election. (Post-Dispatch)

As a disabled voter I’m automatically sent an absentee ballot request form for every election, though it doesn’t have the thrill of voting on Election Day. But that doesn’t matter when the weather, or my health that day, would prevent me from getting to vote.

With the current pandemic the subject of mail-in voting is being strongly debated. Today’s poll is not about policy, but what you personally plan to do. Answers are shown in random order, I’ve included the option  for you to include your own answer if one of mine isn’t satisfactory. Note that if you type in an answer I’m the only one who’ll see what you’ve written — it’ll be shown as “other” on the public results.

This non-scientific poll will close at 8pm tonight.

If you want more information on absentee voting here are links for readers in the primary audience:

No matter how you vote, just be sure you vote — in all races on the ballot!

— Steve Patterson

Advertisement



FACEBOOK POSTS

This message is only visible to admins.

Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Click to show error

Error: An access token is required to request this resource.
Type: OAuthException

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe