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Category Archives: St. Louis
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 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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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).
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?
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|
JONAH IS IN THE BELLY OF THE WHALE
The original E-Mail From his dad to friends and family, 7/4/2000
On the evening of June 28, Jonah Anderson aka “STUN”, (who is one of the top air-brush and graffiti artists in St.Louis, nationally known, and also my son) and his friend Jesus were coming hope from a bar in St. Louis. Jesus was driving his car through the alley behind the building where he lives to the spot where he parks his car. The alley was blocked by a truck. Jesus peeped the horn and hollered to move the vehicle so he could park. Four men and a woman were standing near the truck. The men approached the car as Jesus and Jonah got out. Before hardly a word was spoken, Jonah was attacked by two of the men, Jesus by at least one of them. Jonah went down almost immediately from a blow to the head by, we think, a baseball bat, pipe, or perhaps a piece of wood. The men continued to beat Jesus, but finished up by going back one more time at Jonah who was already unconscious and lying on the ground bleeding.
After the men and girl left, Jesus struggled the two blocks to where Jonah lived to get help. We still don’t know exactly who called the police, but that resulted in Jonah being removed from the alley by ambulance and delivered to St.Louis University Hospital. He was rushed into surgery where the good doctors spent 3 hours operating on Jonah’s brain, a small part of which had to be removed. He was stabilized and was sent to the high risk ICU unit on the 5th floor where he has remained since. The folks at the hospital have told us he was only minutes away from death. The doctors have said that it’s likely Jonah has suffered permanent damage and that we should be prepared for the worst. He has been fighting to stay alive for six days, but hasn’t yet turned the corner to recovery. He is still in great danger.
Jesus at the time of this writing has still not been to a hospital, but appears to be okay. He has spoken to the police and has identified three of the men who caused the assault. The two that attacked Jonah are in custody. These two men, brothers 29 and 30, have an extensive history with the police. At the time of this event, they were out on bond in regard to the beating of a man who was simply getting out of his pickup truck. That man was beaten with a baseball bat. Blows to the head, resulting in the man’s face and bone structure having to be completely rebuilt. Apparently there was no provocation.
I was awakened the same evening as the assault about two in the morning here in Grand Rapids by a call from his mother, Kathy, in Minneapolis. I immediately called Uncle Randy, Randy Bishop, who lives in St.Louis and who is very close to Jonah. He immediately went to the hospital and then to Jonah’s apartment to gather further information. Even before Randy got to the hospital, Jonah’s art community had arrived. Nina MacDonald, who runs a coffee shop and is mother by blood to two of the city’s young artists, and foster mom to many more, was already there along with others.
Kathy was able to get there about noon of the following day. I arrived in the evening. I can tell you, it was quite a shock to see our 27 year old, 6’2″, 240 lb baby boy laying motionless in that hospital bed. Wires and tubes everywhere connected to digital this at that, monitoring every function of his body. In the six days that have followed, he has held his own. We were told he might lose the control over his right side motor skills, but he has already (still unconscious), with his right hand, reached up and grabbed the arm of a doctor who was adjusting some tubes. Today, as his bed was being adjusted, he attempted to sit up (again, still unconscious). Over the last few days, he has moved all his limbs while positioning himself in the bed. It is plain to see that he’s fighting to get back to us. This has had a downside though. In his agitation, the pressure on his brain goes back up along with his blood pressure. Just as the doctors were beginning to wean him off of the medication that keeps him sedated, they’ve had to increase the medication again to keep him still. It is important that he becomes conscious as soon as possible to avoid the pitfalls of being in a hospital bed so long. As long as he lays there he is at risk for pneumonia, stroke, and infection for starters. When he is conscious, the pressure on his brain and his blood pressure will have subsided to a level of safety. Then, and only then can we take a deep breath.
In the days following the assault, Kathy and I have been overwhelmed by how much our son is loved and respected by the community. Not only St.Louis, but all over the country. The calls have come from all over the USA from his fellow graffiti artists wanting to know how STUN (Jonah’s painting handle) was doing and if there was anything they could do. Nina, with a little help from her and Jonah’s friends, has begun organizing all those who Jonah worked for, the clubs, the restaurants, the people involved with Paint Louis (the city’s annual graffiti project at the flood wall of which Jonah was one of the founders and who currently sits on the board of the connected non-profit corporation.). All media, radio, TV, and the newspapers have been contacted. Over the next couple of weeks this story will become very well known to the general public. That’s it up till this point,
7/4/00 9:00 AM CST
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.”