Category Archives: economics

The Great Migration

The Great Migration is a critically important aspect of American history that must be understood if we are to make any sense whatsoever of the current state of race relations. The following map depicts a specifically delineated, defined transfer of African Americans from the South to the Northeast, the upper Midwest and West.

The Great Migration

St. Louis City Sustainability Plan

SUSTAINABILITY PLAN EVENTS

The City has issued a Draft For Public Review of its Sustainability Plan. During the month of October, the City will conduct an outreach and awareness campaign called Sustainability Plan :: inform. There will be several opportunities to attend a free public presentation describing the process and contents of the City’s proposed Sustainability Plan.

The City’s official Sustainability Plan will be issued in January 2013, and the Mayor’s Sustainability Summit III :: implement will be held in 2013 on a date to be determined.

Logo with red

 

From St. Louis Sustainability MeetUp:

If you haven’t read the City’s new (proposed) Sustainability Plan, please click the link below and do so now. If you can’t read the whole thing, at least examine the sections that pertain to your interests, such as health care, education, transportation, jobs, food, etc. And then, please make commenting on the plan a priority.

The link to the whole plan and its many sections is on the City website. You’ll also find the plan at area libraries. Written comments will be accepted until November 14, 2012; the City encourages you to take advantage of the online Comment Form. Information about public presentations relating to the Draft Plan is posted on the Sustainability Website (http://stlouis-mo.gov/sustainability/).

The authors of this plan spent two years assembling it. It may or may not ever be implemented, or even be made actionable. But it presents an opportunity for all of us to readdress Chris’ original reasons for starting this MeetUp. What is Sustainable Development? How do you envision the coming years of transition? What could we do to make our region more resilient?

St. Louis International Film Festival

Bob recommends seeing as many of the following six documentaries being shown this month as a part of the SLIFF (St. Louis International Film Festival) program this fall.

You can download the schedule of documentaries being shown by clicking this text.

• Saturday November 10, 1:15 PM, Plaza Frontenac: BETTING THE FARM

Betting the Farm

Betting the Farm



• Sunday November 11, 4 PM, Tivoli: GETTING UP: THE TEMPT ONE STORY

Getting Up

Getting Up



• Wednesday November 14, 7 PM, Hi-Pointe: ENVISIONING HOME

Envisioning Home

Envisioning Home



• Thursday November 15, 7:15 PM, Tivoli: THE PREP SCHOOL NEGRO

Prep School Negro

Prep School Negro



• Friday November 16, 6:30 PM, Wash U / Brown School: DIGNITY HARBOR

Dignity Harbor

Dignity Harbor



• Saturday November 17, 12 noon, Wash U / Brown School: THE SECOND EXECUTION OF ROMELL BROOM

The Second Execution of Romell Broom

The Second Execution of Romell Broom


Downtown North Tour

On Saturday September 8, 2012, both sections of Community Building embarked on a tour of Downtown St. Louis that began at the Busch Stadium Metrolink Station and meandered through the Gateway Mall, Old Post Office area, Washington Avenue, the Riverfront, the Convention Center, housing built north of the Edward Jones Dome, past Lucas Park, Reverend Larry Rice’s homeless shelter and to Bob’s apartment in the Plaza Square Apartments. Afterwards, we crossed the Gateway Mall again, walked through Union Station, it’s indoor mall and departed via the Metrolink Station nearby.

Following are groupings of images that combine still photographs taken on the day of our tour with other images of the areas depicting these areas and the history associated with them.

 

METROLINK

These images include four color photographs taken during our trip from the Forest Park Station at Skinker on our way downtown. The last two images show historical images of train-based public transit in St. Louis. You can simply watch the slideshow play, you can click on the right and left arrows or simply click on the thumbnail images below.

01DowntownN-2012-1.jpg02DowntownN-2012-3.jpg03DowntownN-2012-44.jpg04DowntownN-2012-2.jpg23-2StLouisElevated.jpg23-4StLTrainSystem.jpg

 

BUSCH STADIUM

An image of Bob leading our group near Busch Stadium along with a series of historic images showing plans for the stadium from the 1960s, Edward Durrell Stone’s donut-shaped precast concrete stadium, the adjacent Spanish Pavilion (also designed by architect E.D. Stone) relocated it’s site at the 1964 New York World’s Fair, plans for the new stadium, the construction of the new brick stadium structure, demolition of the old structure and then plan and perspective of the proposed Ballpark Village (still unrealized).

05-0DowntownN-2012-4.jpg05-10St. Louis Arch rendering BuschStadium.jpg05-13BuschStadiumSpanishPav.jpg05-21stl spanish pav const-620.jpg05-22SpanishPavilionOpening.jpg05-23-1964 ny spain.jpg05-28StadiumComplex.jpg05-30BuschStadiumDemoErect.jpg05-50NewBuschStadium.jpg05-60BallparkVillage.jpg05-80VillagePerspective.jpg

 

 

 

NYT: Admitted, but Left Out

Shannon Slade submitted this article from the New York Times for our blog:
October 19, 2012

Admitted, but Left Out

By

WHEN Ayinde Alleyne arrived at the Trinity School, an elite independent school on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, he was eager to make new friends. A brainy 14-year-old, he was the son of immigrants from Trinidad and Tobago, a teacher and an auto-body repairman, in the South Bronx. He was soon overwhelmed by the privilege he saw. Talk of fancy vacations and weekends in the Hamptons rankled — “I couldn’t handle that at that stage of my life,” said Mr. Alleyne, now a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania — and he eventually found comfort in the school’s “minority corner,” where other minority students, of lesser means, hung out.

Idris Brewster in a Dalton class photo from 2001-2002 (front row, third from left), and as a student at Occidental College.

In 2011, when Mr. Alleyne was preparing to graduate, seniors were buzzing about the $1,300-per-student class trip to the Bahamas.

He recalls feeling stunned when some of his classmates, with whom he had spent the last four years at the school, asked him if he planned to go along.

“How do I get you to understand that going to the Bahamas is unimaginable for my family?” he said in a recent interview. “My family has never taken a vacation.”

It was a moment of disconnection, a common theme in conversations with minority students who have attended the city’s top-drawer private schools.

There is no doubt that New York City’s most prestigious private schools have made great strides in diversifying their student bodies. In classrooms where, years ago, there might have been one or two brown faces, today close to one-third of the students are of a minority. During the 2011-12 school year, 29.8 percent of children at the city’s private schools were minority students, including African-American, Hispanic and Asian children, according to the National Association of Independent Schools, up from 21.4 percent a decade ago. (Nationally, the figure was 26.6 percent for the same period, up from 18.5 percent 10 years before.)

Ayinde Alleyne, left, graduated from the Trinity School in 2011. He attends the University of Pennsylvania.

But schools’ efforts to attract minority students haven’t always been matched by efforts to truly make their experience one of inclusion, students and school administrators say. Pervading their experience, the students say, is the gulf between those with seemingly endless wealth and resources and those whose families are struggling, a divide often reflected by race.

Schools have aggressively recruited minority families that pay all costs in full, to break the perception that they are always the ones receiving financial aid. But a connection persists. At the Calhoun School, also on the Upper West Side, 32 percent of the student body is made up of minority children, and 70 percent of them receive some form of financial aid (a figure that has decreased markedly in recent years). Spending on financial aid at the school grew to $3.6 million last year from $1.7 million a decade ago. (It now represents 14.8 percent of total expenses, up from 14.1 percent over that same period.)

At Trinity, where 37 percent of students are from a minority group, financial aid spending ran to $5.7 million last year, up from $2.7 million 10 years ago (13 percent of expenses, up from 11 percent). Minority students represent 38 percent of the student body at the Dalton School, on the Upper East Side, where financial aid totaled $7.8 million last year, up from $3.9 million a decade earlier (13 percent of expenses, up from 12 percent).

DJ Banton craved new friendships and deep connections at the Trinity School, but felt as if she didn’t belong.

David Addams, the executive director of the Oliver Scholars Program, which recruits low- and middle-income African-American and Latino students and helps guide them through private schools, says the report card is mixed. “These schools have gotten better at providing opportunities for X number of kids, but once there, how well does the school community embrace them and support them in succeeding as well as any other member of the community?” he asked.

The schools point to efforts to hire diversity directors, create forums for discussion about race and privilege, and design mentoring programs to help students find connections. But several new film projects at some of these schools cast a bright light on the sometimes fraught intersection of race and class, and how the two play out in some New York City independent schools.

The film projects at Dalton, Calhoun and Trinity are independent of one another and are at different stages of completion. The Trinity film, “Allowed to Attend,” in which Mr. Alleyne appears, was made by Kevin D. Ramsey, the school’s director of communications, and has been shown at the school. At Dalton, the filmmaker parents of an African-American student tracked their son and a friend through their years at the school and are preparing their documentary for broadcast on public television next year. Calhoun is just embarking on its project. But footage from the films and interviews with students and administrators involved with them reveal that initiatives to diversify some of the most elite schools have proved more challenging than glossy brochures and perfectly balanced multiracial imagery on Web sites might indicate.

Students report feeling estranged, studying among peers who often lack any awareness about their socioeconomic status and the differences it entails. They describe a racism that materializes not in insults, but more often in polite indifference, silence and segregation. Albert, an Asian-American boy in “Allowed to Attend,” says: “You can do a lot of psychological damage to people by ignoring them for an extended period of time. For, like, four years.”

At the Dalton School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, minority students represent 38 percent of the student body.

DJ BANTON had never fit in at her neighborhood school in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Children there called her an Oreo — black on the outside, white on the inside — because of the way she talked, and because she got good grades. So when she was accepted at Trinity for the seventh grade through the Prep for Prep program, she hoped she would find children like herself, students who liked to study and listen to Top 40 songs and watch anime. She craved new friendships and deep connections, perhaps the only surefire inoculation against the perpetual loneliness of adolescence.

Those hopes didn’t pan out, at least not for many years. “I left one school where I felt I didn’t belong and went to one where I thought I would belong, and realized I didn’t belong in ways I couldn’t surmount,” Ms. Banton, who appears in “Allowed to Attend,” said in an interview. In elementary school, she said, she could pretend to be “blacker” — change the way she talked, pretend to like music that she didn’t. But at Trinity, “the differences were in money and in the way I was raised,” she said. “I had never been to camp, and I couldn’t change or control that.”

Many of the themes explored are common to any adolescence: where to sit in the cafeteria, dating, parties, homework, tutors. But these issues also intersect with race, wealth and privilege. Minority students talk about feeling overwhelmed by the resources they are suddenly confronted with, and many feel forced to pick between their personal roots and the golden promise of a new peer group with greater wealth. They struggle to bridge the two worlds, and some grapple with guilt if they pull away from neighborhood friends. They describe feeling like a guest at someone’s house: you can stay and look, but you don’t belong.

“The only people who could relate to what I was feeling were minorities, or they were poor,” Ms. Banton, now studying at the University of Southern California, said. “It became linked in my mind — rich, white; minority, poor.”

The emotions are raw, even years later. When Katherine Tineo, who is Afro-Dominican, was accepted at Brown University, she remembers her classmates at Calhoun telling her that it was a result of affirmative action. She stood up in a school town hall meeting and explained, through tears, that she believed that she had been admitted on the merits of her application — her good grades and her efforts to create awareness about multiculturalism at Calhoun.

Recounting the experience seven years later, Ms. Tineo, now 25, broke down again. “To say I got into a school because of my color and not because of my efforts?” she asked, her voice cracking. “I didn’t come from similar places from them, so they thought I didn’t amount to the same thing.”

Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson have made a documentary on the experience of their son, Idris, at Dalton.

The project at Trinity was inspired by an earlier film, “The Prep School Negro,” a documentary completed in 2008 and re-edited in 2012 by André Robert Lee, which explores what it means to be poor and black in a wealthy, mostly white school. The film examines his experience at Germantown Friends, an elite day school in Philadelphia, and his attempts as an adult to understand his education and socialization. As a student, he received a “life-changing” education, he said, discovered new worlds and even found a white, upper-class “adoptive” family.

But as he gravitated to his new world, he slowly divorced himself from his poor, urban past, which included his mother, sister and friends. “I lost a major connection with my family, and I lost an understanding of what true intimacy and connection with people is,” he said.

Mr. Lee has spoken at more than 200 schools, and at a screening of the film at Trinity, Ms. Banton asked him to elaborate on how he had bridged the gap between old and new friends. She was struggling with the same issue; her best friend, one she used to play with nearly every day in Flatbush, now seemed distant and angry. “You wonder, ‘Is it my fault for changing or her fault for not?’ ” Ms. Banton said.

Conversations with Ms. Banton about “The Prep School Negro” prompted Mr. Ramsey to make “Allowed to Attend,” which was filmed during the last three weeks of school in 2011 and includes four other minority students, their families and friends. (The entire senior class was given the chance to participate in the film.) The administration gave Mr. Ramsey permission to produce the film, and the students in it approved the final version; Ms. Banton also made a copy available to The New York Times.

Trinity’s upper-school head, Jessica Bagby, said she cried when she watched the film. “They were so brave in telling their story; they were so courageous,” she said. “But I was heartbroken that their experience was what it was.”

That experience included the different places where students congregated, with the white, popular students hanging out in the “swamp,” or student lounge, and the minority children taking over the red staircase. It involved a divide between those with weekend houses and limitless lunch budgets and students like DJ, who could not afford to spend $8 a day at the diner. And it included a teacher mixing up black girls who look nothing alike. One young woman, Cece, explains in the film that she could not feel pretty when the standard of beauty — white, skinny, tall — was something she could never be.

“It’s hard for me to get a guy to pay attention to me in a predominantly white school, because I’m black, and that’s miserable,” Cece says. “From September to June, there’s not a day that I feel pretty.”

The Calhoun School is making its own film.

The Dalton film, “American Promise,” is a 12-year project undertaken by Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster, two Brooklyn filmmakers, whose son, Idris Brewster, started at Dalton in kindergarten along with his best friend, Oluwaseun Summers, who goes by the name Seun. Idris graduated in June and now attends Occidental College in Los Angeles; Seun left after eighth grade, after years of academic and social struggle. He graduated from Benjamin Banneker Academy, a predominantly African-American high school in Brooklyn, and attends the State University of New York at Fredonia.

Idris Brewster has fond memories of Dalton. He hated middle school, but enjoyed high school. He made wonderful friends, and said Dalton’s mentoring program helped him connect to other African-American boys at the school. The school provided him the support he needed and the opportunity to branch out. “I met different kinds of people than I would have met at a public school, or in my neighborhood,” he said, equating his education to living in a different culture for 12 years.

But his close friends were all African-American, and racial divides were pervasive. “We’re excluded from the whites,” he said, describing the cafeteria as “whites on one side and blacks on the other.” He did not assign blame to Dalton, and said that much of the issue was simply economic. Most of the black students were not wealthy, he said, so “they have less in common with the whites, who are extremely rich.”

Seun’s mother, Stacey Summers, recalls feeling elated when he got into Dalton. She was happy to take part in the film. “I wanted to chronicle his journey because it would be filled with success, and it would be rosy, rosy, rosy,” she said. “I was naïve.”

“You are thinking going in that all the children are bright and capable,” she added. “The longer you are in the system, you realize what children and parents have to endure to keep up with that level.” Many families paid for expensive private tutors, and other support for their children that she could not afford.

Seun struggled academically and socially. Play dates were difficult. Parents could not, or would not, come to their Brooklyn neighborhood. Some who declined to visit the borough offered to have Seun to their homes, but his mother felt she was imposing. “He never had a friend come to Brooklyn,” she said. She felt like an outsider.

Ms. Stephenson and Mr. Brewster had to get permission every year from Dalton’s board to film in the school, according to a former trustee. They hope that “American Promise,” scheduled to be broadcast on public television in 2013, and the book that accompanies it will be constructive in addressing the issue they say is paramount: the achievement gap between African-American boys and their white counterparts.

“This is not about what Dalton didn’t do for us, or what white people didn’t do for us; it’s about what are the needs of these boys and how can we provide it,” Mr. Brewster said. The conversations in the documentaries, and interviews with the participants, suggest that talk of a postracial society is just that. “As soon as someone says ‘postracial,’ I say, ‘Who was at the last dinner party and who came to the wedding?’ That one friend doesn’t count,” Mr. Lee, the “Prep School Negro” filmmaker, said.

STEVEN J. NELSON, the head of Calhoun, said that there were certain inevitable realities for minority families at the school: At some point, one parent will be mistaken for a nanny or a service worker. African-American boys will be frisked by the police, or followed inside a store.

“Students, and these are nice kids, too easily assume ‘I’m a white kid in this nice Upper West Side school, and that kid is a brown kid in this nice Upper West Side school; my understanding of us can stop there,’ ” he said. Conversations have to move beyond the surface, he said.

To help that process along, Calhoun recently won $243,063 from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to produce a film and develop a curriculum and a Web site. The film will be created by Point Made Films, which produced “The Prep School Negro.”

Clayton Wortmann, a former Trinity student who participated in that school’s documentary, agreed it was important to start a conversation. “The level of silence is astounding,” he said in an interview. “Everyone is too nice to talk about it.”

He said the film reminded him of the essay “Consider the Lobster,” by David Foster Wallace. “Do you think about these things? Do you think about how little you think about these things?” he said, paraphrasing the essay, which is about the cruelty of killing and eating the crustaceans. “That’s what the film will do. It will get people to think about how little they think about it.”

Link to original article in the New York Times:

Hill and Ville

NOTE: The following post was created in Fall 2011 during Community Building. Some of the text refers to specific things that occurred in class at that time, however the overall point remains apropos.


Reflecting on the music and discussion we had in yesterday’s class. The drawings the students’ worked on were representations of The Ville and The Hill. It almost seems too cute in the way they rhyme but there’s certainly a logic involved in making the comparison.

One of the things about the two tours that strikes me is that I felt our visit to The Hill tended to preference the built fabric and the vernacular sense of continuity that makes for a very compelling and cohesive neighborhood. The insistent repetition of the overall house forms had an almost numbing effect in some areas despite the individuality of each home not just architecturally, but also in the way each family ornamented and presented their homes to the public.

My suspicion is that it would have been possible to visit The Ville and take a tour with a similar sense of architectural continuity. Our tour tended to favor the larger institutional buildings and organizations over the urban fabric of the residential community. When we did look at homes, they tended to be unique for historical reasons and due to the residents who grew up there rather than for their architectural or urban content.

There’s nothing wrong with this difference between the tours, but it does lead to a varied perception. Clearly much of the difference that was noted related to the general comfort and ease with which we generally felt in visiting The Hill. Part of that has to do with the “branding” of the neighborhood as a source for Italian culture and food that is widely known and appreciated in Saint Louis. Also, the neighborhood itself has made a particular point of reminding visitors (and residents) that they are in the “Italian” section of the city.

Bob’s explanations have made it clear that while Italians were among the original residents of the area, it wasn’t a monolithic culture that dominated the area in the way that I think is suggested by the constant reminders (flags, banners, fire hydrants, etc.). In fact, the branding has so successful as a strategy for attracting restaurants and bakeries, that there seems to be a much higher concentration of such businesses in the area than could be supported by the local economy. The great number and variety (and expense) of many of the restaurants clearly seem to be in business because they attract customers from a relatively wide area.

It seems that this dominance of branding neighborhoods has been so successful in certain respects that it tends to suppress many other features of the community that are beneficial, but not publicly understood to be connected with The Hill. It would be interesting to take photographs of less typical sections of The Hill that might be suggestive of other cultures, practices and locations and to present them to a group and ask them to identify the neighborhood in which they were taken.

I suspect that it would be possible to find buildings and sites and locations just within The Hill that could be suggestive of the industrial riverfront areas, Soulard, Wellston, The Ville, Clayton and West County. In a similar way, I suspect one could take photographs of various locations around the city to could be considered to fit into the image that is commonly accepted for The Hill and have people identify them as having been taken there, when in fact they represent restaurants, homes, churches, parks and businesses in other parts of the city.

So what does this mean? Does it mean that the representations of The Hill that we have ingrained in our minds is false? I don’t think that’s the case, however it does suggest that we’re somewhat brainwashed in the way we understand segments of the city. I wonder to what extent our preconceptions determine our reactions?

Another thought experiment might be to take students on a drive blindfolded and then arrive somewhere without knowing where they are going in advance. Then they would be forced to really “read” the city they find themselves in for clues and information about its condition, history, demographics, prosperity, density, etc.

Our conversation about the drawings was instructive, but also revealed some things about our own ideas and how we project them onto situations. Someone commented that, “Well of course we feel more comfortable going to The Hill, since we all have a European background.” I felt this statement was, at a minimum, insensitive.

My sense is that part of the intentions behind the class has to do with overcoming stereotypes and preconceptions that we have about people and places that cause us to distort reality and block us from really seeing things as they are.


After writing this post, I decided to go ahead with my thought experiment and take still frames from the video I shot during our visits to the Hill and the Ville. Can you identify which are which?

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

#11

#12

#13

#14

#15

#16

Please test yourself and put down whether you think each photograph was taken in The Hill or The Ville.

Bartholomew’s City Plan (1947)

City Planner Harland Bartholomew developed a detailed, comprehensive plan for St. Louis which documents the existing conditions at the time and projected future development based upon increasing population density and totals. In actuality, the city’s population peaked shortly thereafter and then following a steady decline as St. Louis County became increasingly suburbanized.

This chart presents four primary demographics. The top line represents the population of the United States (dashed lines at right indicate projected figures). The second pair of lines represent the populations of the states of Illinois and Missouri. The third line represents the City of St. Louis. The shorter line at the bottom represents St. Louis County.

Population growth (historical and projected)

This analysis of the population of the region formed the basis for the comprehensive plan. The caption for this illustration (Plate Number Two) reads, “St. Louis cannot expect sizeable population increases in the future.”

This pair of maps compares the population density within the boundaries of the City of St. Louis as of 1940 (top) and the projected/desired density as of 1970 (bottom):

Population density (historical and projected)

As illustrated, Bartholomew suggests that the density of the city’s core would increase and that the westward expansion would not only stop, but actually be reversed. The same desire for increasing the density in the center of the city has been suggested as desirable and ideal by many urban planners since, but the reality has been exactly the opposite.

The multicolored plan below represents Bartholomew’s ideal Land Use Plan. The reality is much more complex and heterogeneous. Achieving such clarity in function and use was a dream for planners of the modern American city was an ideal never to be attained in practice.

Desirable Ultimate Land Use Plan

The mismatch between the actual and zoned uses are indicated in this diagram of the Lafayette Neighborhood District. These drawings compare the existing land uses with the existing zoning. Clearly the actual facts on the ground were much more heterogeneous, mixed and complex than the simplistic organization suggested by the area’s zoning.

Lafayette Neighborhood District (present land use and present zoning)

The serious nature of reconfiguring the city to correspond to the desired land uses is suggested by the sample rezoning of a neighborhood in this series of plans for the Macklind Neighborhood District. From left to right the drawings depict: Present Land Use, Present Zoning and Proposed Zoning. Clearly to achieve the purity of the desired zoning would require major alterations to the city fabric.

Macklind Neighborhood District (present and proposed uses)

Achieving the clarity of vision suggested by the “Desirable Ultimate Land Use Plan” (above) would require massive rebuilding of the city as suggested by the following plan which highlights in red areas of Substandard Housing (“a measure of obsolescence and blight”).

Substandard Housing

The plan indicates two areas of city which would require massive reconstruction. The red hatched areas indicate “blighted areas” and the black hatched areas indicate “obsolete districts”.
Obsolete and Blighted Districts

A key method for determining whether districts were obsolete and/or blighted involved determining how many residences in the area relied on outside toilets. This map documents the absolute numbers (red figures) and the density of such conditions in the city. In general, the closer to the riverfront and the older the age of the structure, the more likely that they did not include indoor plumbing.

Percentage of Dwelling Units with Outside Toilets

The necessity for rebuilding the city along different lines altogether is made bluntly clear by this suburbanized images of a redesigned Soulard. To Bartholomew’s way of thinking, this district was entirely obsolete and needed wholesale replacement.

Soulard Neighborhood District

The following map delineates neighborhoods (outlined in red) and industrial districts (highlighted in yellow). In general, the greatest density of industrial districts were located along the Mississippi River or along the Mill Creek Valley area. Both of these areas were served by extensive rail networks. These areas remain largely industrial in nature with greatly reduced railroad activity, however many of these tracks remain in place.

Neighborhood and Industrial Districts

The plan features two maps indicating the massive investments in upgrading infrastructure the city was undertaking. The first indicates the many improvements that were a part of the 1923 Bond Issue. The largest projects included major upgrades to the system supplying potable drinking water for the city ($11,000,000) and construction of the River Des Peres drainage system beginning in Forest Park, extending through the south city before draining into the Mississippi River.

Other significant improvements included the following new structures in the downtown area: Civil Courts Building, Municipal Opera House, Municipal Power Plant and the Soldiers Memorial. Other amenities included a series of public hospitals, fire houses, parks, playgrounds, sewer upgrades and a major street lighting program. Public spaces to be improved included Union Station Plaza and Memorial Plaza. The total cost of the 1923 Bond Issue exceeded $67,000,000).

1923 Bond Issue

Further investments in the city were made as part of the “Post War Bond Issue” of 1944 which totaled more than $63,000,000 and included improvements to streets, water systems, sewer systems, parks, fire stations, telephone networks, hospitals, airport, art museum and zoo.

Post War Bond Issue of 1944

Of course, the actual development of the City of St. Louis in the second half of the 20th century followed an altogether different design which was occurred through the combined action of major highway construction, massive new suburb development in the surrounding communities and the demographic shifts associated with “white flight”.

If Bartholomew had considered the evidence of population shift away from the city center toward the perifery, he might have been able to more accurately visualize and create a realistic city plan that could possibly have been implemented in a more coordinated way. Clearly, such a plan would have to deal with (at a minimum, St. Louis City and St. Louis County). My suspicion is that he was only authorized to prepare a plan for the city itself.

Population Change (1930–1940)

McKee lines up five homebuilders

By Tim Logan      tlogan@post-dispatch.com      314-340-8291

ST. LOUIS  •  In what may be the closest thing to progress yet in his decades-long bid to rebuild much of the city’s near north side, developer Paul McKee said this week that he has reached agreements with five home builders to construct housing for his NorthSide Regeneration project.
 
Paul McKee
Paul J. McKee, Jr., of McEagle Properties, LLC, interviews with St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters near the intersection of Pine St. and N. 23rd St. in downtown St. louis late Tuesday, December 6, 2011. Photo by Erik M. Lunsford elunsford@post-dispatch.com

 

McKee and the quintet of builders have plans for 79 homes – mostly new construction – on a few rebuilt blocks along St. Louis Avenue, just west of North Florissant Avenue, in the city’s St. Louis Place neighborhood. It’s intended to be the first phase of residential construction that will grow as – and if – McKee’s vast vision becomes reality.

The progress is fragile. Previous plans to launch NorthSide – like one to rehab the Clemens House mansion on Cass Avenue – have become false starts. At roughly $200 million, the five blocks of housing would be the largest development McKee has yet announced in the 1,500-acre footprint north of downtown since he started buying land there eight years ago.

But all McKee’s plans hinge on the fate of NorthSide’s $390 million in public subsidies, in the form of a tax increment financing package that will go before the Missouri Supreme Court next month.

McKee selected the builders – Fischer & Frichtel, Rolwes Co., Rubicon-Bruno Homes, X3 Design Build and Gateway Development – in a competitive process earlier this year. They are a mix of companies with experience in new and rehabbed homes in both suburban and city neighborhoods. But they say they are planning on building “urban-style” homes on what are now mostly vacant blocks between 20th Street and North Florissant Avenue – land McKee bought quietly over several years, then combined with a massive purchase of city-owned land earlier this year. Some existing, occupied homes will remain there.

Several of the developers said they were attracted by the chance to be part of starting something new in the battered neighborhood, and by the prospect of a large-scale redevelopment. McKee’s plan ultimately proposes thousands of new homes and vast swaths of new office, industrial and retail space across the area.

“I’ve seen so many plans come and go in the city of St. Louis,” said Jerry Meyer, director of development at Rubicon-Bruno. “This is the first one I’ve seen that addresses education, infrastructure, jobs and housing. We can create another real option for people here.”

“This area needs life,” said X3’s Kevin Logan. “It’s a great opportunity for us to participate in that.”

Pricing is still being worked out, but it’s likely these homes will cost far less than the $400,000 average price estimated in McKee’s 2009 TIF application. Greg Sommerhof, a Wentzville builder who is working on market analysis, says he sees a strong target market in teachers and city police and firefighters. He held focus groups with all three groups, and found a lot of interest in quality new construction in the city.

“Overwhelmingly, people found it attractive,” he said. “Security concerns were holding them back. If we can provide that, we’ll have a great start.”

The developers also have got a lead on financing. St. Louis Community Credit Union has agreed to lend to buyers in the project, said credit union spokesman Michael O’Brien.

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“Hopefully the opportunity will come to fruition,” he said. “We’re a locally owned credit union. Our focus is primarily the city. So it’s a natural for us.”

McKee said he could start construction in the spring. But of course, all of this depends on NorthSide’s giant subsidy, which has been in legal limbo since a circuit court judge ruled in July 2010 that it was vague and overbroad.

The TIF would generate about $390 million for streets and new sewers and other infrastructure across the two-square-mile area, money McKee says he needs to get his project done. Upgrading infrastructure for this patch of housing alone would cost $2 million, he said.

McKee has been trying to access that money for two years now, first proposing more specifics to allay Judge Robert Dierker’s concerns, then bringing the case to state Appeals Court, which in June passed it up to the Missouri Supreme Court. Oral arguments there are scheduled for Nov. 28, with a ruling likely several weeks after.

“If that doesn’t go our way,” McKee said, “We’re dead.”

 

[click here for link to original article and photograph]

Buckminster Fuller’s Old Man River

R. Buckminster Fuller worked with Washington University Professor of Architecture James Fitzgibbon. Here is a portion of text by Fuller discussing the project:

Having undertaken the solution by artifacts of the world’s great housing crisis, I came to regard the history of cities. Cities developed entirely before the thought of electricity or automobiles or before any of the millions of inventions registered in the United States Patent Office. For eminently mobile man, cities have become obsolete in terms of yesterday’s functions-warehousing both new and formerly manufactured goods and housing immigrant factory workers. Rebuilding them to accommodate the new needs of world man requires demolition of the old buildings and their replacement of the new and now obsolete real estate, streets, water and sewer lines, and yesterday’s no longer logical overall planning geometries. I sought to take on this challenge and developed plans for an entirely feasible and practical new way for humans to live together economically. Old Man River’s City is one such design.

Old Man River’s City, undertaken for East St. Louis, Illinois, takes its name from the song first sung by Paul Robeson fifty years ago, which dramatized the life of Afro-American blacks who lived along the south-of-St. Louis banks of the Mississippi River in the days of heavy north-south river traffic in cotton. Cessation of the traffic occurred when the east-west railway network outperformed the north-south Mississippi, Mexican Gulf, and Atlantic water routes, which left many of its riverbank communities, such as East St. Louis, marooned in economic dead spots. East St. Louis is an American city overwhelmed by poverty. Its population of 70,000 is 70 percent black.

I originally came to East St. Louis to discuss the design and possible realization of the Old Man River’s City, having been asked to do so by East St. Louis community leaders themselves, being first approached by my friend Katherine Dunham, the famous black dancer. At the community leaders’ request I presented a design that would help solve their problem. It is moon-crater-shaped: the crater’s truncated cone top opening is a halfmile in diameter, rim-to-rim, while the truncated mountain itself is a mile in diameter at its base ring.

You can read the entire piece A Community Dwelling Machine by clicking here.

How Kenya has beaten the world in mobile money

The following article is from National Geographic:

The Invisible Bank: How Kenya Has Beaten the World in Mobile Money

In the developed world, we are used to the idea that we created the model of industrial and economic progress which other countries must follow. Many of our big ideas about development rest on the assumption that the West cracked the formula for economic progress sometime in the 19th century, and what we need now is for the developing world to ‘catch up’. Even the language we use encapsulates this idea, in the division between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’. But new innovations are challenging the idea that development requires handing ideas down from developed to developing. In banking and finance, the big ideas in cashless transfers and mobile, flexible exchanges are not to be found in Geneva or London or New York. A revolution in mobile money transfer has occurred, but not in these financial centres. Instead, it’s happened in Kenya, with m-Pesa.

[click here to see the remainder of the article]