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Category Archives: government
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
• Sunday November 11, 4 PM, Tivoli: GETTING UP: THE TEMPT ONE STORY
• Wednesday November 14, 7 PM, Hi-Pointe: ENVISIONING HOME
• Thursday November 15, 7:15 PM, Tivoli: THE PREP SCHOOL NEGRO
• Friday November 16, 6:30 PM, Wash U / Brown School: DIGNITY HARBOR
• Saturday November 17, 12 noon, Wash U / Brown School: THE SECOND EXECUTION OF ROMELL BROOM
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”).
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)|
|Plan and perspective view of St. Louis (c. 1840)|
|View looking north over Chouteau’s Lake (c. 1840)|
|Aerial perspective (c. 1876)|
|Perspective view (c. 1893)|
|Aerial perspective emphasizing industry|
|Aerial perspective emphasizing landscape|
|View of the city and surrounding countryside|
|1904 looking south from Lucas|
|Early 20th century view|
|“The City of a Thousand Sights” (c. 1920)|
|Downtown aerial view (c. 1960)|
This drawing presents the raw landscape surrounding the Village of St. Lewis:
|Map shows landscape with locales indicates for early communities.|
This drawing depicts the boundaries of the City of St. Louis from it’s origins beside the Mississippi River in 1764 through it’s current boundary which was established in 1876 at the time of the City County Divorce:
This drawing depicts the French fort built around the perimeter of “St. Louis des Illinois” in 1780:
This 1804 survey locates the houses on the blocks of the French city at the time:
|Survey of French city of 1804|
At this point, the expansion of the city has not yet reach Chouteau’s Pond:
|Survey of city blocks (c. 1822)|
This drawing depicts expanded boundary of the city as of 1822:
|1822 (population 5,000)|
This drawing depicts expanded boundary of the city as of 1841 (including Chouteau’s Pond):
This drawing illustrates the city as it existed in 1844:
This diagram outlines the city’s boundaries in 1855 and it’s final limits established in 1876:
|1855 and 1876 city boundaries|
|City districts and boundaries (c. 1855)|
This drawing outlines St. Louis City and County with the bounding rivers and general topopgraphic features:
|St. Louis City and County (c. 1885)|
This drawing depicts the rapidly growing city as of 1885 (note: Eads Bridge has been constructed, Chouteau’s Pond is no longer present and Mill Creek Valley is now centered on new rail lines):
This drawing depicts the expanding city as of 1812 (note second bridge over the Mississippi built on the north side and the development of East St. Louis):
This topographic map includes St. Louis City and County as they existed in 1920 (Mississippi River is at the bottom and the Missouri River appears at right):
|Aerial photograph of downtown (c. 1960)|
|Central City aerials depicts regions lost to demolition|
By Tim Logan email@example.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.
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.
“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.”
African Americans living in St. Louis housing projects may have been subjected to radiation-laced spraying by the U.S. military during the Cold War.
In an effort to study how biological and chemical agents might spread, the U.S. Army conducted “Operation Large Area Coverage.” The project consisted of spraying zinc cadmium sulfide, which was not considered harmful, across various parts of the country.
But in the housing projects of St. Louis, which the Army considered a “slum district,” the spraying included radioactive particles, according to sociology professor Lisa Martino-Taylor. The spraying took place from February 1953 to January 1954 and 1963-1965.
Martino-Taylor uncovered the information while working on her doctor of philosophy dissertation for the University of Missouri-Columbia, which studied how “ethical lapses” can allow members of a large organization to ignore the harm they are doing to innocent and unwitting people. In the course of her research, she obtained Army documents through the Freedom of Information Act.
The government admitted in 1994 that it used St. Louis as a testing ground because its architecture and climate were similar to cities in the Soviet Union. But it never revealed anything publicly about irradiated materials. Instead the Army claimed that the tests had been experiments to see if smoke clouds could be created to hide American cities from Soviet attacks. In reality, the military was testing offensive measures, not defensive. The tests, among other goals, were meant to discover “the penetration of the aerosol cloud into residences at various distances from the aerosol disperser, and to determine whether there is any residual background or lingering effect of the cloud within buildings.”
The experiments were meant to begin in Minneapolis, but met with resistance from residents. When the program moved on to St. Louis, they chose a low-income area because, according to historian Leonard Cole, “poor people were less likely to object to strange happenings in their neighborhood, and if they did, the police would be there to control them.”
In 2009, researchers in St. Louis discovered cardboard boxes filled with 85,000 individually labeled baby teeth that had been collected in the late 1950s and early 1960s to study the effects of radioactive fallout. Children born in St. Louis in 1964 had about 50 times the amount of strontium-90 in their baby teeth as those who were born in 1950.
Missouri’s U.S. senators, Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Roy Blunt, have asked the Army to produce more information on the testing in St. Louis.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Sick: Government Sprayed Radioactive Chemicals on Poor People in Science Experiment, Study Claims (by Laura Gottesdiener, AlterNet)
Missouri Senators Demand Details on Military Testing in 50s and 60s (by Bill Lambrecht, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
The Manhattan-Rochester Coalition, Research on the Health Effects of Radioactive Materials, and Tests on Vulnerable Populations without Consent in St. Louis, 1945-1970. (by Lisa Martino Taylor, University of Missouri-Columbia) (pdf)