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 …

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Demolition of St. Louis Centre Bridge Over Washington Ave Began A Decade Ago

May 21, 2020 Downtown, Featured, History/Preservation, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Demolition of St. Louis Centre Bridge Over Washington Ave Began A Decade Ago
 

Ten years ago today work began on reversing a mistake that had been in place for 25 years prior — the pedestrian bridge over Washington Ave created a dark environment at the sidewalk level.

Taken two days before the bridge bash you can see how dark it was underneath

The “Bridge Bash” event started with comments from numerous white men, followed by Mayor Slay operating the wrecking ball, pyrotechnics made breaking glass a little more exciting.  Here’s the video I uploaded from the scene — the action starts at 8:45.

St. Louis Centre was part of the ‘bring the suburbs to the city’ movement. The inwardly focused mall was a killer to the sidewalks downtown — especially under the Washington & Locust wide bridges connecting to Dillard’s & Famous-Barr, respectively.

Looking west from 6th Street on May 22, 2010
Looking west from 6th Street May 2010
Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006
Looking east along Washington Ave from 7th, February 2006
Same view yesterday
Same view after the bridge was removed

Removal of this oppressive bridge and facing the ground level retail of the MX (formerly St. Louis Centre) has done wonders for this part of downtown. If only we hadn’t wasted decades trying to be like the burbs.

— Steve Patterson

It’s Opening Day! No, Not Baseball

May 18, 2020 Economy, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on It’s Opening Day! No, Not Baseball
 
Source: Food & Drug Administration

Every year opening day in the St. Louis region is a big deal, Cardinals baseball fans celebrate every year. But baseball isn’t starting today — some businesses in St. Louis City & County are being permitted to reopen, with restrictions. Not all businesses that can open, will open. Others that want to reopen aren’t yet permitted to do so, such as gyms.

Many will still be celebrating today. In contrast, others think reopening businesses now is a huge mistake. As businesses reopen today it’ll be impossible to enforce new reduced occupancy and other rules.

As someone that hasn’t been able to work for over a decade I understand getting bored at home, money running out, etc. I wanted to get back to normal, but I had to accept that my stroke meant I had to adjust to a new normal. This took me over two years.

The normal that everyone had at the start of 2020 will not be returning. Ever. Anyone who thinks otherwise will struggle to adapt.

This is not a democratic hoax, Coronavirus won’t just “disappear”. In fact, it may “never go away”.  A mass-produced vaccine won’t be ready to distribute this year, that won’t happen until at least the 2nd quarter of 2021. It could well take more than a year from now.  When it does arrive we don’t know if it’ll be free.

In the meantime we’re going to see repeated waves of infections, deaths will continue to escalate. Our economy will be stopped again with each wave. Until at least 70% of the population is vaccinated social  distancing, face masks, etc need to continue — 2021 or after.

Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong, but I don’t think I need to worry about that happening.

— Steve Patterson

Eads Bridge Pedestrian Path Finally Accessible Again After 4+ Years Inaccessible

May 14, 2020 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, Walkability Comments Off on Eads Bridge Pedestrian Path Finally Accessible Again After 4+ Years Inaccessible
 

The renovation of the Arch grounds a few years back greatly improved accessibility for the public. Going from the top of the steps down to the riverfront used to be a major challenge if you were pushing a stroller, or using a wheelchair. New ramps now make it very easy.

But the project accidentally cut off access to the pedestrian walkway on the Eads Bridge, as early as May 2015. This month it was finally rectified, though the solution created another problem.

Looking west heading into St. Louis from the Eads Bridge. May 13, 2020

Let’s do a quick recap of the problem caused when a contractor busted through into the light rail tunnel below.

The earliest I can find the issue on Google Street View is from May 2015, how much earlier it began is uncertain.

May 7, 2017 is my oldest photo of the problem. This is when I began conversations with various officials about being able to access the pedestrian walkway in my wheelchair.
By March 16, 2019 the broken concrete had been removed but the height from steel plate to bridge sidewalk was too much for 99.9% of wheelchairs.

In January of this year I posted about the problem, see Eads Bridge Remains Inaccessible Years After Arch Project “Completed”. I was told a fix was in the works, but I’d been hearing excuses since 2017.

A week ago a friend sent a pic to me showing work happening. Yay, finally! Yesterday I went by to see the result, approaching from the North.

Approaching from Laclede’s Landing. I’m happy to see a smooth transition to the bridge, but the width of the crosswalk markings have no relationship to the width of the ramps on either end. 

I’m happy to report the accessibility is better than it ever was. The slopes, cross-slopes, ramps, etc. are all improved. I was very relived to be able to access the bridge. I then went to head West toward downtown.

Approaching the corner from the Arch grounds. At left is the point to cross the street to head into downtown proper.
Here’s a more direct view. Like before, the crosswalk is much wider than the ramp, but that’s not the main problem.
The stupid “beg button” for a walk signal is set back too far from the curb — only by leaning and stretching could I reach it.

Walkable areas shouldn’t have buttons to get a walk signal — they should always come up in the cycle. But if you’re going to make us press these damn buttons at least place them where they can be reached! I can see bottlenecks here post-covid with lots of tourists coming and going.

— Steve Patterson

Aloe Plaza Nudes Unveiled Eight Decades Ago, MLS Coming

May 11, 2020 Downtown, Featured, Parks, Planning & Design Comments Off on Aloe Plaza Nudes Unveiled Eight Decades Ago, MLS Coming
 

Eighty years ago today the nude sculptures in the Aloe Plaza fountain across Market Street from St. Louis Union Station were formally unveiled. The other figures in the fountain were unveiled the previous night.

Carl Milles’ ‘Meeting of the Waters’ is the focal point of Aloe Plaza

Artist Carl Milles attended,  Edith Aloe (1875-1956) did the unveiling.

Edith Aloe, 64, was the widow of the man who two decades earlier pushed to raze buildings across from St. Louis Union Station — former president of the Board of Aldermen Louis P. Aloe (1867-1929). Mrs. Aloe was instrumental in Milles being selected to create the fountain.

Since then the plaza has largely remained unchanged. A wheelchair ramp was added years age to access the plaza from Market Street and a decade ago awful spot lights were installed. Why awful? The resulting light from overhead is so bright it overpowers the lighting within the fountain — prison yards likely have similar lighting schemes. Incredibly uninviting.

Aloe Plaza across from Union Station cleared away “undesirable” buildings, followed by decades more demolition creating the largely failed Gateway Mall

The view above is looking West from 18th Street in June 2013. Right now the new Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium is being built on the West side of 20th Street.

Looking West from Aloe Plaza as crews remove the old highway interchange and begin work on the stadium. April 24, 2020

The stadium will give the Gateway Mall a proper terminus, but will Aloe Plaza remain unused, unchanged?

We should begin thinking & talking about a major renovation of the 2-block long plaza. The fountain & sculpture are sacred, in my view. Everything else is negotiable.

Why?

Union Station has made major investments in replacing the failed train shed mall, uh, festival marketplace with an indoor aquarium & outdoor Farris wheel. The MLS stadium is an even bigger investment. Both will draw huge crowds. Aloe Plaza is located between them.

Aloe Plaza was designed as a tranquil passive space in a growing city of 800k plus. 2011 photo

The first question is if the space should remain passive or if it needs activity areas?

Obviously I think it needs a redesign with opportunities for programmed activity.  But what activities? Would programming & activities compliment or distract from the fountain?

Too bad the Gateway Mall Advisory Board was disbanded.

— Steve Patterson

SOURCE: May 11, 1940 (page 3 of 16). (1940, May 11). St.Louis Post-Dispatch (1923-2003) Retrieved from link.

PS: The 1940 census shows 64-year old widow Edith Aloe living in the Park Royal Apartments, 4605 Lindell Blvd. — apartment 414. Her rent was $125/month. Her 24-year old single maid Evelyn Iffrig also lived there. Evelyn married in 1946, so Edith would’ve needed a new maid. Evelyn died in 1995, her husband lived until 2006.

Outpatient Surgery Since Last Cancer Update

May 7, 2020 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Outpatient Surgery Since Last Cancer Update
 

At the end of March I wasn’t feeling well, temporarily stepping away from blogging on a regular schedule.

I wrote, in part:

March 2020 has been difficult. My last treatment was March 2nd. Since then my appetite has dropped off a cliff. Eating less, I haven’t my usual energy.  I’m not walking around our apartment as much, I’m sitting more and napping more.

Despite standing up when my Apple Watch tells me every hour I’ve developed couch sores on my rear end. This encourages me to spend more time in bed.

My day naps got longer and longer, throwing off my sleep schedule at night. Not being active has brought back the muscle spasms in my left limbs — a result of my 2008 stroke. 

At my late March oncology appointment my doctor diagnosed my problem: adrenal insufficiency. Basically my kidney cancer was screwing up my adrenal glands. The prescription quickly changed my energy levels & appetite — I feel like 30 again! I’m easing off the drug now, will meet with a endocrinologist next month to look into my adrenal glad issue.

In April I had outpatient surgery. Though not elective, it was welcomed. I inherited my mom’s tricky veins so I had a “port” implanted in my chest to make blood draws and infusion treatments easier.

A sign on the Washington University Medical/BJC campus

So while I’m feeling well again I’ve enjoyed not having to stick to a rigid self-imposed 4 day per week schedule. As I’ve been doing the past few weeks new blog posts will come as I have time and a subject that interests me. I’ll have at least one blog post per week.

In a future post I’ll share what it was like to have surgery and get cancer treatments during this epidemic. Stay safe everyone.

— Steve Patterson

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