Wednesday, October 31, 2007

STL Halloween Traditions Invade NPR's Talk of the Nation

One of the nice things about living in an old city like St. Louis is the way old traditions are part of the culture. For some reason, St. Louis has very well established Halloween traditions.

If they indexed cities for the quality of their Halloween celebrations, St. Louis would have to be near the top. Yesterday, Amy Dickinson from the Chicago Sun Times Ask Amy column was NPR's Neal Conan's guest on the Talk of the Nation show. They were talking about Halloween celebrations. St. Louis callers flooded the program. Amy and Neil were noticeably impressed by the St. Louis showing.

One caller (not from St. Louis, but it sure sounded like St. Louis) talked about handing the first adults to come by with their kids a beer. Amy was a little taken aback by that idea. I don't know. We see lots of parents walking with their kids on Halloween. The kids go to the door, and the parents stay on the sidewalk, frequently next to a wagon hauling a cooler loaded cold beers. Maybe Halloweens up in Chi-Town are a little more staid than ours?

Amy and Neil talked about how its good for kids to get a little scared on Halloween, as long as its a safe kind of scared. We should have that covered. We get a block party permit, have kids from a wide area show up, half the houses on our block are decorated, maybe some deep bass from a theatrical sub woofer toning haunting riffs, and from 200-300 + trick or treaters.

The film Meet Me In St. Louis does a wonderful job of showing how our four seasons and holiday celebrations are a big part of life in our town. This online review has some more interesting comments about the film.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

International Institute Blog

As seen on a click-through ad at Urban Review, the International Institute has started a discussion blog.

Join the conversation at: International Institute Blog.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Subdivision Trustees Blog

St. Louis is a city of neighborhoods, and for parts of our region a "subdivision" is the legal construct for neighborhood. For most of the city, the lines for "subdivisions" were blurred years ago, showing up now only in arcane legal descriptions on abstracts of title. Old farm tracts were subdivided into lots, and neighborhoods were built. Today, neighborhood organizations are the active community groups for many of these areas.

However, in lots of places througout our region, subdivision developers created their own neighborhood governing bodies. Subdivision covenants, or rules, were established, and are operated through locally elected subdivision trustees. These trustees are responsible for maintaining the standards as set out in the original subdivision codes.

A new blog is up discussing neighborhood issues from the trustee and subdivision resident perspective. Check it out at:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Pick One Project?

If you had to pick just one volunteer project to work on for the next three years to improve the St. Louis area, what would it be?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

At last some rain!

Man, this rain feels good. How long has it been? It seems like its been dry forever!

I just went through a drive through, and had to pull away from the speaker because the rain was blowing in the window in sheets. So I pulled right up to the takeout window to place my order. The cashier opened the window and says, smiling, "It's been three months since I moved down here, and this is the hardest I've ever seen it rain!" Three months he said! We should get rain like this every week or two.

"This is how it usually is around here", I said to him. The water was gushing across the parking lot in little rivers. It was flowing down into the drainage inlet like a waterfall. All the rain and rushing water was making a lot of noise.

The rain was pounding down. You could hear it on the roof of the car. What a welcome sight. Finally, a big drink of rainwater for the garden!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Chouteau's Landing

Not deja vu, but rather another old riverfront neighborhood on the rise:

Chouteau's Landing

Monday, October 15, 2007

Holy Trinity MCU Meeting Set

Holy Trinity, the historic, twin-steepled, stone church facing I-70 and the Mississippi River in the city's Hyde Park neighborhood, Third Ward, will be the setting for a Metropolitan Congregations United ("MCU") meeting to discuss northside redevelopment efforts, including the ongoing activities of developer Paul McKee.

MCU has a history engaging civic issues in St. Louis. They started the "Holy Ground" movement, and worked to set a regional agenda on such issues as urban sprawl, economic development, and urban community development.

MCU's Holy Trinity meeting is set for 6:30 PM, October 25. From the intersection of Salisbury and Interstate 70, look southwest for the towering stone church. You can't miss it.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Blight for Eminent Domain?

The building above is an example of a vacant building some would consider appropriate for blighting and eminent domain.

If the property in the picture above was privately owned, with its property taxes paid, and no plans on the part of the current owner for its rehab, would you support the use of blighting and eminent domain for its redevelopment?

Should neighbors or local neighborhood organizations have a say?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

STL Book Club

A couple of reading recommendations for St. Louis enthusiasts:

New book by local historian, Nini Harris, Unyielding Spirit: The History of Polish people in St. Louis

Website with lots of books about St. Louis: Books on St.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Bump: Statewide Eminent Domain Coalition Leader Comments on ED Petition

Ron Calzone, the the Chairman for the Missouri Citizens for Property Rights, commented on the STL Rising Eminent Domain petition thread. His comments are linked here:

STL Rising eminent domain petition thread

The website for the group is:

In his comment, Mr. Calzone discusses the concerns of residents living near problem properties.

Thanks to Mr. Calzone for contributing to this conversation.

Monday, October 08, 2007

STL Chronograph

Over 200 years of STL history in electronic form, courtesy of the STL Community Information Network.

Riverfront Reset

The editorial page of the Sunday Post Dispatch presented three very different concepts for remaking the riverfront and Arch grounds.

One plan suggested by a prominent local architect suggested creating a terrace facing the river just above the flood plain, where pedestrians could stroll, shop, and expand their experience of the riverfront. The terrace could be connected to the underground museum beneath the Arch.

The second proposal was for the floating island plan developed by an out of town architect and planner. The designer mentioned comparisons to a highly successful waterfront development in Spain.

The third concept was suggested by the president of the Downtown Resident's Association. This plan was less about redesigning the Arch grounds or the riverfront and more about reworking the road system around the area.

With plans for a new Mississippi River bridge still in the works, the writer suggested moving Highway 70 away from the Arch entirely, somewhere north of Laclede's Landing.

Next, dispose of the moat around the Arch created by the depressed lanes by simply filling it in. This approach would remove the connection of Highways 44, 55 and 70 in downtown and eliminate the need for a "lid" over the depressed lanes. The writer pointed out that such a concept would open up prime downtown real estate for new development and also better connect downtown to Laclede's Landing.

The three plans are all very different. What's your favorite option? Or perhaps a different suggestion?

The reworking of the Arch and riverfront connections to downtown is something we'll only get one shot at in our lifetimes. What is our best shot?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Delmar Loop Named one of Ten Best Streets

The revitalization of the Delmar Loop in UCity and the City of St. Louis is a good example of neighbors, developers, and government all working together.

The work has paid off. This year, the APA has named the Delmar Loop one of the nation's ten best streets. The links below show how some of the pieces have come together over the years.

Neighbors had a plan.

Private developers responded.

Local anchors stepped up.

Neighbors found partners in government.

Community organization provides a vehicle to leverage efforts.

Community development does work.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

STL Trash Rising - New Dumpster and Alley Blog

With leaf raking season upon us, dumpster wars are about to get going, with neighbors vying for space in their yard waste dumpster. So today, in honor of our city's storied alley and dumpster tradition, STL Rising unveils a new blog: STL Trash Rising.

STL Trash Rising will take a light-hearted look at alley life and dumpsters. Got a funny alley or dumpster story? Tell it at STL Trash Rising!

Monday, October 01, 2007

STL Rising: Unfiltered FYI

Since reader comments on the Market at McKnight development in Rock Hill are continuing, STL Rising is bumping this post to the top of the page.

Missouri Eminent Domain Petition Question

Petition gatherers are circulating throughout the community seeking signers for a proposed referendum regarding the future of eminent domain in Missouri.

However, after speaking with two of the signature gatherers, it was unclear exactly what the petitioners seeks to change.

The gatherers were mentioning that the petition would give Missouri voters a chance to vote on eminent domain. However, they could not answer the question of whether that meant every time government wanted to use eminent domain, there would need to be a public vote.

Does anyone know the purpose of the eminent domain petition?