Monday, January 31, 2011

History Museum Event Opens Discussion on Class

On Saturday, an overflow crowd gathered in the Lee Auditorium at the St. Louis History Museum for the start of the new series, Class: the Great Divide. The first installment in the series was a presentation by University of Iowa's Colin Gordon on his work Mapping Decline. If you're into maps and St. Louis history, this was the event for you.

Gordon takes his readers through a detailed history of restrictive covenants in St. Louis and the practices of the St. Louis Real Estate Exchange. It shows the history of white flight and ultimately black flight from St. Louis city. It chronicles the depopulation of St. Louis. And it shows the trend continuing in parts of St. Louis County.

The presentation challenges St. Louis about what we do now? The history is well documented. St. Louis was ground zero in terms of white flight and urban dislocation. While there is no question that the downgrading of neighborhood risk by the St. Louis Real Estate Exchange in the 1950s led to much disinvestment in North St. Louis, it is not as clear that restrictive covenants were the cause of white flight.

1950s St. Louis was a place steeped in racism, practicing legalized segregation. Block busting and panic selling caused more white flight than racial covenants or grading of areas by the St. Louis Real Estate Exchange. The challenge for St. Louis is where do we go from here?

STL Rising is hopeful that the sad history of racism and white flight in St. Louis is being rewritten by young people today who do not carry the racial baggage of their parents', grandparents', and great grandparents' generations. Previous generations did not leave a good legacy for our young people. Thankfully they do not seem to be repeating our mistakes.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Staggered Lanes for the Home of Stagger Lee?

When Stack O' Lee shot Billy near the St. Louis riverfront about a hundred years ago, a St. Louis legend was born that lives to this day in rock and blues clubs around the world.

Will the home of Stack Lee soon be home to staggered lanes in place of Memorial Drive, plus a widened depressed section with two new highway on and off ramps between the Arch grounds and downtown?

It's a little hard to tell based on the renderings, but, according to UrbanSTL, the plan to improve the Arch grounds includes a widening of the depressed section to build two new highway ramps.

Overall, the proposed plans are exciting, especially the work proposed around the Old Court House, the north end of the Arch grounds, the remake of Kiener Plaza, and the ecological improvements to the ponds on the grounds.

More info is needed to understand traffic flow and lane changes. Diverting vehicular traffic from the Old Court House area could be a very good thing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How long on the market?

There's a closed florist shop for sale on Chippewa between Hampton and Kingshighway. It's a nice enough looking building, but for whatever reason, the place has not sold in over a year. Any theories why?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Rams - Seahawks Game Very Revealing...

...not in the sense that the Rams have problems scoring touchdowns, but rather in viewing the aerial shots of downtown Seattle. Those views showed how downtown Seattle is cut off from its Puget Sound waterfront by the elevated Alaskan Viaduct highway structure.

City to River is proposing the idea of highway removal in downtown St. Louis. The City to River concept is to reconnect downtown St. Louis to its riverfront by replacing the depressed and elevated lanes of the soon-to-be-former lanes of I-70 through downtown with an at-grade boulevard.

Perhaps City to River should be setting its sights higher? Rather than simply highway removal, the Seattle project proposes a combined highway replacement with new connections to its waterfront. The price tag? Over $3 billion.