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One thing that I really loved about St. Louis when I moved here was all the stained glass. There is so much of it which seems to be standard in the older bungalow-style homes. Great stuff. I've notived that many of these windowos, which tend to flank the fireplaces, are sealed shut. Thy didn't come with screens, nor were standard screen sizes available....but why seal them closed?
Low angle images aren't really honest because the open lots are hidden by the buildings. Here's a airel shot looking almost straight down: (click for larger version)
The downtown looks very dense, but it's fairly small. The neighborhoods around it are less intact. There aren't really any huge lots except near Busch Field (which is to be expected). The only major freeway is that one to the south. Overall, it looks a lot better than most cities its size.
We all edit our photo selections to make a point. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when we get called on a factual matter, we need to come clean, instead of going into denial. That is not going to solve the problem; you can’t cure a sick man by intoning hopefully: “He’s healthy.”
St. Louis has plenty of parking lots and vacant spaces, and they disfigure the city and severely damage the urban experience. I knew that because I have been to St. Louis numerous times; that’s why I asked the question. jordanb’s aerial clearly demonstrates that some areas of the city are 40% gone (and some, you could say, 100%).
Your second post makes my point; look at that huge zone of parking lots and megascale buildings. That is not an urban place, if you define urban as walkable.
Yes, St. Louis has a tremendous amount of fabric left over from when it was a great city (8th in US as recently as 1960). But more importantly, much of it is gone. St. Louis awaits a building boom to repair the damage of the last five-or-so decades of decline and retrofitting with parking lots. When that happens, I hope there will be the common sense to provide parking in structures, above ground or under, with retail at grade. There is plenty left in St. Louis to build on in the future, both vacant land and good, high-quality old urban fabric. It will be a great city again.
There is some city boosterism on Cyburbia, but I’m grateful there isn’t much. There are some guys over at Skyscraper Page who are trying to create the illusion with photographs that Charlotte is some kind of walkable European city with cohesive, connected urban neighborhoods. Nothing could be further from the truth, though Charlotte is certainly improving.
Btw, how could you conclude from my question that I had not seen St. Louis. Objectively, you might have thought the opposite.
Nobody is denying that, ablarc. I will readily admit that the immediate periphery of downtown St. Louis has been BUTCHERED, but the central core itself has remained remarkably intact. Just don't insinuate that St. Louis is the worst offender when it comes to vacant land. Just about every city in this country has suffered similar fate over the past 50 years. Look at Cleveland, look at Detroit, look at Baltimore, etc. All have tons of vacant land and surface parking lots. Chicago is not immune to this either. The only thing that makes parking in Chicago a pain in the ass is that it's expensive, but it is nonetheless plentiful. Hell, I recently read an article about how Centre City Philadelphia is becoming one big parking lot (I'll try to find it). Sure, that might be an exaggeration, but vacant space and parking lots plague every city in this country, with the exception (to some extent) of New York City and Boston. STL has plenty of vacant space, but so do most other cities. No older big city is what it used to be.
My point is that there is enough solid fabric and walkable density left to sustain an authentic urban experience in St. Louis. When you deny that, you lose credibility. btw, I lived in Brooklyn for a while, so I don't have blinders on.
New York and Boston have much fewer parking lots today than forty years ago, and you can add San Francisco to your list.
Philadelphia is a particularly sad case, since it was so nearly intact in the early Seventies. When a city loses population, it can no longer support the former building mass. New construction continues, however, to provide Class A space; and that leads to parking lots.
The solution is to make them illegal, along with other harmful acts like bank robbery and tax evasion. That is the case in European cities and accounts for the fact that they are intact.