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Thread: Some St. Louis questions

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Some St. Louis questions

    1) Driving south/east on I-70 towards downown, at one spot on the east side of the road about a mile north of downtown, I saw an abandoned railroad viaduct, but what struck me was cantenary poles above the overgrown tracks. Aside from the transit system, I didn't know that St. Louis had electricrified railroads at one time. Anybody know the history of these tracks?

    2) It appears that the northern suburbs, a few years ago almost exclusively white, are experiencing massive racial ransition. Looking at US Census demographic progiles, the only northern suburb that has a majority white population -- a very slight majority -- is Florissant. Resegregation is taking place in North County, and it's happening fast. Are the governments of the northern 'burbs making plans to ensure the stability and desirability of these communities after resegregation in complete, so they avoid the fate of places like Jennings and East St. Louis? Where have the former white residents moved?

    3) Any plans for the reuse of the Macarthur Bridge?

    4) Looking on municipal boundary maps, it looks like there is a long, narrow section of East St. Louis that extends east of IL 152 and the escarpment/elevation on the east side of the Mississippi River. What is this area like?
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    I have a little insight for #2 only...

    The former residences are moving to communities like Chesterfield, St. Charles.....basically west. Maybe south. St. Louis is one of the most segregated cities in the country. Highway 64/40 is basically the dividing line between north and south. If you look at a demographic makeup of the metropolitain area. most whites live west and south. There are many revitalization efforts being implemented and in place. Just north of the city especially, but I think that it will take time... As far as I am aware, north st. Louis is already like the east side. I know that I can't trust the media, but every night, every day, something terrible happens up there....(bites fingernails).

    Anyone else wanna comment?

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    St. Louis used to have an extensive trolley system, and the St. Louis Trolley Company was one of the largest producers of trolley cars.

    I can't find a map of St. Louis trolley systems, but here's a map of East St. Louis trolley and interurban lines.. Notice that two of the interurban lines cross the river.

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    Cyburbian
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    Good questions, and I really don't have answers. As for the question about the north suburbs becoming increasingly black, I really don't think that phenomenon is any different than in other older industrial metros with a long history of racial and socioeconomic stratification. It's the natural progression of blacks from moving from the North Side (city) into the north 'burbs, just as whites have done for the last 50 years. Look at Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, etc. and you'll see the same patterns.

    As for the electric railway tracks, St. Louis at one time had the world's second most extensive streetcar network per capita (after Paris). There are a lot of vestiges left from that heyday, and many of the tracks you see around the city are likely remnants of that era.
    ST. LOUIS: The City is Back. Back the City.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Originally posted by JivecitySTL
    As for the electric railway tracks, St. Louis at one time had the world's second most extensive streetcar network per capita (after Paris). There are a lot of vestiges left from that heyday, and many of the tracks you see around the city are likely remnants of that era.
    If that right-of-way is a remnmant of one of the region's former interurban lines, it must be the most intact abandoned interurban right-of-way in the country. I don't know of any other interurban lines where the cantenary poles are all still present.

    Looking on topographic and air photo maps, it looks like the right-of-way starts at a street corner on the north side, runs through a park, over I-70, and onto some dedicated ROW that curves through an industrial district, onto the McKinley Bridge, into East St. Louis, and dead-ending in Venice, Illinois. There are no connections between the ROW, at least what I can see on air photos and topo maps, and other railroads. That area appears to be cross-crossed with old railroad cuts and embankments.

    It's nearly impossible to find information about the St. Louis streetcar and interurban company online, because Google searches also reveal links to pages referencing the St. Louis Car Company, which made streetcar and interurban equipment for transit systems around the country.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian
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    Here's a map of St. Louis' streetcar network at its peak in 1923:



    Link: http://hometown.aol.com/chirailtwo/stlhist.html
    ST. LOUIS: The City is Back. Back the City.

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    Re: Some St. Louis questions

    Originally posted by Dan

    4) Looking on municipal boundary maps, it looks like there is a long, narrow section of East St. Louis that extends east of IL 152 and the escarpment/elevation on the east side of the Mississippi River. What is this area like? [/B]
    Well, if you ever rode the metrolink into Illinois, you can actually go by this area. The area you are asking about is one of the richest neighborhoods in modern East St. Louis. It lies on a bluff, and the wealthier Illinois suburbs are separated by this bluff from the poorer areas. The area is also very forested. The neighborhood appears 1950's/60's suburban, and includes many homes on small hills. I believe the current mayor lives here, as do perhaps the 1 or 2% of white residence.

    A small side note; the YMCA where I learned how to swim is in this neighborhood, good place.

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    Cyburbian
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    Dan, I highly recommend a book called Streets & Streetcars of St. Louis: A Sentimental Journey by Andrew Young. It has tons of pics and comprehensive info about the systems that served the metro area. It is available on Amazon.com.
    ST. LOUIS: The City is Back. Back the City.

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    Cyburbian Howard Roark's avatar
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    Re: Some St. Louis questions

    Originally posted by Dan
    1) Driving south/east on I-70 towards downown, at one spot on the east side of the road about a mile north of downtown, I saw an abandoned railroad viaduct, but what struck me was cantenary poles above the overgrown tracks. Aside from the transit system, I didn't know that St. Louis had electricrified railroads at one time. Anybody know the history of these tracks?

    2) It appears that the northern suburbs, a few years ago almost exclusively white, are experiencing massive racial ransition. Looking at US Census demographic progiles, the only northern suburb that has a majority white population -- a very slight majority -- is Florissant. Resegregation is taking place in North County, and it's happening fast. Are the governments of the northern 'burbs making plans to ensure the stability and desirability of these communities after resegregation in complete, so they avoid the fate of places like Jennings and East St. Louis? Where have the former white residents moved?

    3) Any plans for the reuse of the Macarthur Bridge?

    4) Looking on municipal boundary maps, it looks like there is a long, narrow section of East St. Louis that extends east of IL 152 and the escarpment/elevation on the east side of the Mississippi River. What is this area like?
    Howard Roark answers your questions!

    1.Some of the Streetcars in St. Louis use to have their own right-of-way, off of the streets entirely.

    2.North county (and city) has suffered under considerable corporate dissinvestment, GM moved the Corvet plant in the 70's (I think) to Wentsville in St. Chuck, Mcdonnell Douglas had 28,000 working in NoCo in the late 80's today that number is about 16,000, some operations were moved to St. Chuck. With the loss or move of those jobs came the great migration to St. Chuck. This along w/ numberous other closings (carter carb. etc..) in the 1970's kept the flow to the N-east over the river. Recently airport expansion bought out hundreds of homes, my best guess is that people went to St. Chuck. Almost everyone I meet from St. Chuck has NoCo roots, (since first observing this a few years ago, I have made a point to inquire) West Co types are usually born and raised in the "central corridor" the traditional wealth corridor of the city from the CWE, to Clayton, to Ladue, to Chesterfield, and now Wildwood and St. Albens. They do not want to move North or South and the East is already developed. (the prime wealth district of St. Louis since 1900 has been Ladue, Clayton, CWE, while the CWE experienced some significant decay in the 60's and 70's the area appears to have stabilized nicely.

    Noco development-

    Hazelwood has just approved a huge empowerment district w/ the intent of keeping the Ford plant, there is a "trades" center on the Metro line in Wellston (w/ another planned) and this bit of unapoligetic boosterism from a local growth watch paper-

    "DO YOU KNOW ABOUT NORTH COUNTY?

    Do you know that North St. Louis County, defined here as running north of Page Avenue between the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and encompassing 47 municipalities, is in the midst of a $2.5 billion residential construction boom? Construction was begun on approximately 1,000 new homes in 2002 and another 1,500 are projected for 2003 and 2004. That's approximately the same number of residential building permits issued in O'Fallon, the metropolitan area's fastest growing community as of 2001. Economically stagnant 10 years ago, at least 3 major homebuilders and 3 custom homebuilders are currently active in North County.

    The construction boom does not stop there, however. New retail construction dots the landscape, from older communities to newer ones. This includes the St. Louis Mills Super Regional Mall. When completed, it will consist of approximately 1,100,000 square feet. The mall has a projected opening in November of this year.

    Also on the drawing boards is the redevelopment of more than 450 acres in the noise abatement area immediately east of Lambert Airport, which includes the municipalities of Berkeley, Ferguson and Kinloch. Development there, which is a high priority of the Westfall administration and regional business leaders, is projected to generate between 5,000 and 15,000 jobs when completed. Already finished within the last two years at TRISTAR’s Park 370 development are industrial properties totaling over 500,000 square feet, with TRISTAR commencing construction in 2003 of three buildings with 18,000, 30,000 and 40,000 square feet for specific owners. Several other North County projects deserving mention are Welch’s 150,000 square foot warehouse in Hazelwood and a 120,000 square foot commissary for Gate Gourmet in Berkeley.

    The University of Missouri at St. Louis is also acquiring land in order to expand its campus, in Normandy and unincorporated St. Louis County, and is working with McEagle to develop new office buildings immediately south of I-70 and west of the new Florissant Road interchange. North County will also benefit from a rebuilt I-70 and a new interchange at I-170/I-270."

    I don't know how much of that is real, funny I just got this letter on Friday.


    3.The Mac bridge is currently owned by a railroad (forget which one, maybe U-Pac) They use the lower deck for rail traffic, the upper deck has been closed for years, no plans to reopen it, but I think it would be a good idea.

    4. Cannot help you on the E-Stl. question, though I know that there is currently a plan being worked on for the city, The next AIA meeting is suppose to be a review of the plans, might know more then.
    She has been a bad girl, she is like a chemical, though you try and stop it she is like a narcotic.

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    Re: Re: Some St. Louis questions


    4. Cannot help you on the E-Stl. question, though I know that there is currently a plan being worked on for the city, The next AIA meeting is suppose to be a review of the plans, might know more then.
    I already answered his question (scroll up), but I know the plans you may be talking about. The riverfront plan was already decided not too long ago. They agreed to build a replica of Gaslight Square along the riverfront. The plan also includes possibly building a large amphitheater, residential and commercial high rises. Another part of the plan includes revitalizing Brooklyn Illinois, which will gain visibility when the New Mississippi River Bridge is constructed along side it.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Re: Re: Some St. Louis questions

    Originally posted by Xing500
    Well, if you ever rode the metrolink into Illinois, you can actually go by this area. The area you are asking about is one of the richest neighborhoods in modern East St. Louis. It lies on a bluff, and the wealthier Illinois suburbs are separated by this bluff from the poorer areas. The area is also very forested. The neighborhood appears 1950's/60's suburban, and includes many homes on small hills. I believe the current mayor lives here, as do perhaps the 1 or 2% of white residence.
    The 2000 Census tells me that there are 387 white residents in East St. Louis.

    I've always been fascinated with enclaves. After spotting this area on a map, and being somewhat familiar with the state of the bulk of East St. Louis i.e. an urban worst case scenario), I wondered what the part of the city that was up on the bluff was like.

    With the information you guys provided, I did some more research, and found out that the railroad line is indeed a remnant of an old interurban line; the Illinois Terminal Railroad, which connected St. Louis and Springfiield, Illinois. The interurban was abandoned relatively late, in 1957. The former ROW is considered the best "preserved" (note quotes) abandoned interurban ROWs in the country, and is the only one that still has its cantenary support poles and even some wires remaining. There's also an abandoned subway in St. Louis that was part of the Illinois Terminal ROW.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Part of that abandoned subway is used for MetroLink. There are currently 2 stations in subways using old tunnels in downtown STL.
    ST. LOUIS: The City is Back. Back the City.

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    Cyburbian DecaturHawk's avatar
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    You might also be interested in the new Mississippi River bridge project, which will cross north of downtown. The bridge design is quite remarkable. IDOT claims that there was an extensive public process involved (on the Illinois side) that resulted in strong consensus regarding bridge design and design/location of new highways and approaches. The link to the new bridge website is here.

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    Eight lanes, with room on the shoulders for four more? Instead of waiting for future congestion to force a widening to twelve lanes, they should use some of that space to run rail lines across. The average rail line (freight or commuter, which usually runs on freight lines) is about the same width as the typical lane on an interstate, or only slightly (maybe a foot or two) wider. So they could put two rail lines on each way and still have space for a nice roomy shoulder.

  15. #15

    Xing500

    Xing500, check your private messages, i want to work with you on a project. Hint: something big! I hope we can work together...

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    Here's the answer

    The elevated rail structure with the catenary was the St. Louis Terminal Railroad lines to Granite City, Alton and other points in Illinois over the McKinley Bridge, which the railroad built. My dad, who drove streetcars for St. Louis Public Service, would take my brother and me on the ride to Granite City, and once to Alton, on weekends. The line terminated under 12th Street in the Illinois Terminal Building. Twelfth street had been rebuilt as a viaduct (though there was no way to tell on the street itself) so the electric railway could run under it. The terminal in the building was reached by a long, long series of stairs. Besides the tracks where the streetcars reversed direction, ample space existed for storing glamorous longdistance interurban cars which were really palatial. From under 12th street the trolleys would emerge into street running downtown, then up onto the elevated portion of the route. On the Illinois side the trolleys eventually went back to ground level. In downtown Granite City they made a wide loop with one-way running on downtown streets. Both the older trolleys and swift PCC cars, painted green and creme, were so much fun to ride. Anything you want to know about St. Louis streetcars I likely can tell you.
    Wayne Brasler
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    Cyburbian Howard Roark's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by waynebrasler
    The elevated rail structure with the catenary was the St. Louis Terminal Railroad lines to Granite City, Alton and other points in Illinois over the McKinley Bridge, which the railroad built. My dad, who drove streetcars for St. Louis Public Service, would take my brother and me on the ride to Granite City, and once to Alton, on weekends. The line terminated under 12th Street in the Illinois Terminal Building. Twelfth street had been rebuilt as a viaduct (though there was no way to tell on the street itself) so the electric railway could run under it. The terminal in the building was reached by a long, long series of stairs. Besides the tracks where the streetcars reversed direction, ample space existed for storing glamorous longdistance interurban cars which were really palatial. From under 12th street the trolleys would emerge into street running downtown, then up onto the elevated portion of the route. On the Illinois side the trolleys eventually went back to ground level. In downtown Granite City they made a wide loop with one-way running on downtown streets. Both the older trolleys and swift PCC cars, painted green and creme, were so much fun to ride. Anything you want to know about St. Louis streetcars I likely can tell you.
    Wayne Brasler
    University of Chicago
    Native St. Louis
    Born of a St. Louis motorman!
    You have peaked my interest Wayne, does the 12th street viaduct still exist? if so where does it run? the tunnels of St. Louis are a fancy of mine, though for obvious reasons, there seems to be little info that I can find on them.
    She has been a bad girl, she is like a chemical, though you try and stop it she is like a narcotic.

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    Quote Originally posted by B'lieve
    Eight lanes, with room on the shoulders for four more? Instead of waiting for future congestion to force a widening to twelve lanes, they should use some of that space to run rail lines across. The average rail line (freight or commuter, which usually runs on freight lines) is about the same width as the typical lane on an interstate, or only slightly (maybe a foot or two) wider. So they could put two rail lines on each way and still have space for a nice roomy shoulder.
    We already have a rail line crossing the Eads Bridge.

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    Quote Originally posted by Howard Roark
    You have peaked my interest Wayne, does the 12th street viaduct still exist? if so where does it run?
    Hello all, glad I found you. If the viaduct is what I think he is talking about it emerges at N. Tucker (12th) and O'Fallon on the near north side. You would never know it was there. You can see it from the old National grocery store parking lot. I don't know where it starts unless it's the same connection from near Busch Stadium.

    The trolley system in STL was bought out by GM I believe and removed since no one was buying autombiles. Funny that we are spending millions on MetroLink now to recreate something we threw away. Such is St. Lou. A local business man Joe Edwards talks of putting the street cars back down the middle of Delmar and I wish him luck. Dayton OH has electric buses and that would be a cheap alternative. The PBS station KETC has a short documentary on the Hodimont Line the last of the STL streetcars. The most obvious right of way to me is the Suburban Tracks also on the near north side. It is it's own alley/street. Okay, looks like my security is prohibition the upload of a map of "suburban track" (street name) but you can find it on mapblast zip code 63113

    The line between black and white is more correctly Delmar BTW. I am ready to cash out my equity in my near south side house after 15 years and move north. It is going to go soon I think. Great big houses for nuthin'.

    The MacArther bridge is own by a railway company, name escaping me right now and they have no intention of giving it up. Plus Ralston Purina has encroached on the entrance to the brigde greatly. I have always championed rehab of the bridge since Chouteau / the once great Route 66 is heavily underutilized. A new bridge and Chouteau would be a great route for the IL folks only needing to go as far as the CWE / Wash U Med School complex and there are ALOT of them I know personally. This town seems to discard simple, obvious answers in favor of complex, distructive, multimillion dollar projects. How I miss my Arena, Auditorium and Opera house!

    Glad I found you folks. I sound negative about St. Louis but every thing I say is really out of love for what it could be... what it once was, a world class city. I'd love to talk more STL with y'all.I've got some building we have got to save.
    Last edited by FlavorSaver; 03 Feb 2005 at 2:28 AM.

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