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St. Louis - Thumbs down

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
I have read the posts of the various members that are St. Louis, Missouri fans. So with great anticipation I visited St. Louis over this three day weekend. This city has to be the classic argument against sprawl. Mile after mile of strip malls, and big box retail that was just like the same crap two miles down the road. With the assistance of MoDot it had a third-world transportation vibe in some places. It stretched in all directions with no noticeable visual difference; homogenious bland retail uniformity. I confirmed that the urban core is indeed Gritty . All-in-all a soul-less and unsatisfying experience. Arggg!
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
St. Louis has the look of a place that may have once been great. The older parts of the city are gritty but have so much potential. The trouble is, this is a place that has been hit hard by suburbanization. It would take a lot to bring it back, but would be worth it. Start by abandoning most of the suburban areas.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
El Guapo complaining about sprawl? :)

You have a point, E. G., but the reality is, you are describing every single North American metropolitan area outside of a few northeastern metropolitan areas laid out during the streetcar suburb area (or Chicago, for that matter). And, of course, their outer outskirts are just as bad, too :)

At least St Louis has an interesting Victorian core. What is there to "bring back" in a place like Phoenix, or Atlanta, for that matter (a few blocks of bungalows doesn't count, imo)

Oh well, we get the cities we deserve. We (the great majority)want low density automobile-oriented Usonia, you won't get perfect Frank-Lloyd Wright designed houses and commercial centers. You get North American reality. And, Patio Man loves it!
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
Thumbs down for STL.....

Some of my competition (Nelly) is from that hood ;)
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
Re: El Guapo complaining about sprawl? :)

BKM said:
El Guapo complaining about sprawl?...You have a point, E. G., ...Oh well, we get the cities we deserve...
Uncharacteristic of me -Yes. You guys and gals may be rubbing off on me. But dispite my right-wing rants I have never been "pro-Sprawl." It's inefficient.

PS Perhaps someday you will in turn complain that the new Smith and Wessons look like girly-man guns.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
24
I like St. Louis. There downtown is like Detroit or Milwauee, pretty much dead on nights and weekends, but like Detroit or Milwaukee, there are pockets of areas that make the City good. Many times visitors don't see these areas, they only see the downtown area and the suburbs on the way to the airport.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Way OT Glocks and Boondocks

Speaking of Glocks, does anyone read the cartoon strip Boondocks?

Had a great storyline there today. The character is reading a newpaper article that basically says:

After the brutal slaying of hip-hop pioneer Jam Master
Jay, some are complaining about the way hip hop
is portrayed in the media:

"The media is trying to make hip-hop out to be negative.
Hip-hop isn't about guns and violence, its about fun and
feeling good" said local rappers "Shotguns" and "Uzee"
of the "East-Side Killahz" rap group.

Thought it was pretty cute. He is pretty clever, imo. And I am the epitome of white bread suburbia.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,346
Points
53
Driving through St. Louis for the third time in the past two weeks, and attempting to cover as much of the expressway system as I can with each drive through, I'm under the following impression.

Illinois side: yuk! Boring topography, East St. Louis blight, working class suburbs (probably populated with hardcore Illinois residents that wouldn't dream of living on turf where radio station call letters begin with K) truck stops, warehouses, truckstops in the middle of flat farmland, and lots of power lines. I have a feeling that St. Clair County is the St. Louis equivalent of Northwest Indiana to Chicago. A question to St. Louis fans/residents ... who lives in "East County?" Why would someone choose to live there, instead of the Missouri side?

South County: nice middle to upper middle class suburbs. No huge signs or billboards along the roads. Quite nice from the highway, and short side trips confirmed it. More larger office buildings than North County.

North County: working to middle class white flight suburbs. Poor quality commercial development; billboards, high-rise signs, corporate design, and so on. Disproportionately large amount of auto dealers, compared to South County.

St. Charles County: egads! What the hell happened there? St. Charles County is UGLY ... the cities I passed through and drove around, includng St. Charles, O'Fallon, Lake St. Louis, and Wentzville, had nothing but lowest common denominator commercial development, with more high-rise signs and billboards than even North County; if it weren't for the hills, you could very well be in Houston. Still, though, the place seemed to be booming ... traffic in St. Charles County was much worse than in St. Louis County.

North St. Louis: A damn shame. Beautiful buildings, but increasing blight as you go deeper into the city. Seems like before white flight, the north side of St. Louis was more working-class than the south or west sides.

South St. Louis: Haven't been there.

Central West End: Haven't been there.

West County: haven't been there this time around. Maybe next drive through. I took a bypass through Clayton and the surrounding 'burbs when I moved to Florida, and I was impressed with what I saw.

Suburban development, out I-70 way, didn't sputter out until about 40 miles past downtown. On the Illinois side, urban sprawl took a strange form; huge warehouses, metal buildings and truck stops sprawled out about 15 to 20 miles from downtown, and you don't see too many residences unless you're southeast of East St. Louis.

This is probably a woeful generalization, so it would be great if someone could fill in the blanks.

BTW, I'd like to know more about the caves and tunnels that ae under St. Louis. Supposedly, the city and surrounding suburbs are riddled with caverns and underground passages, but Googling came up with nothing except touristy Meramec Caverns links.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,078
Points
33
I've spent some time in caves south of St. Louis. Nearly all are on private land and they are not developed. If you are connected with the spelunking organizations you might find out about them, but they are generally not visited by "the public."

I think you summed the place up pretty well. Forget about the Illinois side. Too bad, since this was once prime ground (Cahokia). South is nice. The inner part, well, it has great potential. West, sprawl.
 

SouthSideSlayer

Cyburbian
Messages
86
Points
4
Boondocks is my favorite comic. www.ucomics.com allows hotlinking. No need for attachments ; - )




St. Louis - North Side (pics taken in 1998):


You're about to witness the "other" St. Louis -- the storied inner city, the places you never see on the news reports, the publicity brochures, the glamorous web sites.

It's a city full of decrepit old buildings, struggling neighborhoods, neglected streets. It's a place most outsiders and even many residents are afraid of. And it's a gold mine of solidly-built, handsome old houses -- countless numbers of which are falling apart.





One of the more decrepit houses near Page.



Page Boulevard cuts through the heart of neighborhoods that were once among the city's most prestigious addresses. Today, it is surrounded by homes that have fallen victim to arson, abandonment, vandalism, and the elements.



A block of abandoned row houses on Page Boulevard.



The neighborhoods on and around Page are largely poor and overwhelmingly black. Like countless other urban areas in America, they lost many of their middle income residents to the suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s.



source: www.builtstlouis.net
 

SouthSideSlayer

Cyburbian
Messages
86
Points
4
St Louis - North Side cont.


Water can be equally destructive to a building's exterior. Wood and mortar are both vunerable to its effects.

This Page Boulevard apartment house has had its board-ups decorated in an attempt to offset its grim abandonment. The collapse of its porch, however, sadly negates the efforts.




Vandalism and theft go hand in hand. Here, some scavenger seems to have stopped in the middle of ripping the gutters off of this house (probably for scrap metal), located on a side street just north of Page. Either he was interrupted in his "work", or found he lacked the muscle to finish the job.

Or perhaps the damage is cumulative, one vandal after the next tugging the gutters down a bit further simply for the sake of inflicting damage...




Here the entire front porch has vanished, leaving only a ghostly after-image in the form of structural brick that was not meant to be seen. Perhaps the porch was collapsing, and the owner had it removed?




This is perhaps the quintessential St. Louis house -- detached, red brick, long and narrow, two story, flat roof, three windows above, two windows and a door below. It could be a very nice home, given a proper renovation -- particularly since the house next door has been removed, allowing this one to recieve plenty of afternoon light.




Despite appearances, life does sometimes persist and prevail here.

This Page Boulelvard house (and the one next to it) has been excellently maintained by owners who obviously care about their home and neighborhood. And like the devastation you've seen thus far, this is not an isolated example. Such homes may be found throughout the North Side.



Some buildings are taken down when they reach a certain degree of hopelessness, such as these near Academy Road south of Page.





Others are simply left to fall apart on their own. I saw no evidence that this house was being actively demolished; it looked as though it had simply fallen apart on its own. Perhaps worked was stopped mid-way for some reason?




This house, near the intersection of Union and Page, appears to have collapsed totally on its own. Photo from August 2000


source: www.builtstlouis.net
 

SouthSideSlayer

Cyburbian
Messages
86
Points
4
STL North Side part 3.


This one, on the opposite side of Union, was gutted by fire. Photo from August, 2000.






These massive, stocky apartment buildings stand in a row on Delmar Avenue, on a block that has more vacant land than buildings, and more empty buildings than inhabited ones.


Designed to act as a group, their bay windows form a sinuous rhythm that winds across the four which still stand next to one another. Though at first glance they may seem identical, each is differentiated by cornice and roofline details, entryways, and differing window arrangements.


Their presence adds an eerie, post-apocolyptic aura to the area. It is as if all else has been swept away by some unknown destructive force, leaving only these ghostly survivors, tough enough to hang on while everything around them blew away.


In the summer months, the abandoned structures are overrun by a visual explosion of plant life. A collapsed sign advertises the availability of a "commercial site", indicating the owners have no interest in reviving these beautiful old buildings.







Moving further east along Olive, just north of the Central West End we find this lonely stretch of road -- once the roaring entertainment district Gaslight Square.






Gaslight Square fell victim to suburban flight and urban decay in the surrounding areas as early as the 1970s; it spent many years as a home to sleazy bars, and the last establishment, the Prestige Lounge, shut down in 1990. Today most of the buildings are long gone; those that remain are open and rotting fast, probably beyond hope of feasible restoration.
 

SouthSideSlayer

Cyburbian
Messages
86
Points
4
East St. Louis

East St. Louis is even worse. . . (images date from late August, 2001)




One color dominates in East St. Louis: green.

So many lots have been vacated, so much land stands empty where once there were homes or factories, so many abandoned houses are being overtaken by trees and weeds, that the city in many places appears not so much an urban landscape as some ancient Aztec ruin, lost in a jungle.



This landscape is the result of white flight, of disinvestment, of a loss of tax base, of a city for years could barely afford even the most basic of services, of a people struggling to get by.





Downtown is the only part of the city that still looks like a city.




Outside of downtown, East St. Louis is largely a collection of scattered and fractured neighborhoods. Unlike some run-down parts of St. Louis, these areas are typified not by abandoned buildings, but by vacant lots where buildings presumably once stood. It is not uncommon to see entire blocks with only one or two houses remaining.


Abandoned industry infrastructure is also common. This factory sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood, with public and private housing right across the street.





East St. Louis's collection of chain fast food restaurants clings together in a ragged, scared little knot just outside of downtown on St. Louis Avenue. Not all of them are still in business.



. . .



Sauget, Illinois:



This is Sauget, Illinois.

I mean that literally. Aside from a small knot of trailers and small houses just south of here, this is the entire town. East St. Louis's neighbor to the south is nothing more than a refinery that spews pollutants at the city's inhabitants day and night and gives them zero tax revenue in return.
 

SouthSideSlayer

Cyburbian
Messages
86
Points
4

Heading back north into East St. Louis, one passes rail yards scattered among lonely fields and abandoned industrial sites.
 

SouthSideSlayer

Cyburbian
Messages
86
Points
4
OK, one more East St. Louis post.





Surviving buildings in the older portions of town stand isolated, surrounded by fields that perhaps once had buildings on them.






Abandoned buildings come crashing down over time, creating spectacular wrecks.


source: www.builtstlouis.net
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
Holy Crap!

Tranplanner said:
Holy crap is that ever depressing - such beautiful buildings allowed to fall apart like that.
No kidding! I've had no idea that it was THAT bad. Even the worst parts of Milwaukee (think Metcalf Park, Coldspring Park, Avenues West) don't have that kind of concentrations of blight!
 

Habanero

Cyburbian
Messages
3,241
Points
27
Since it doesn't look like those building can be saved, is there any merit in rebuilding in the same style? The first thing I asked when I got to Phoenix was "where are the hitorical buildings?" just to find out none were saved; the only one that was is the San Marcos Hotel, and the addition made by Sheraton didn't even incorporate the original style, they just painted it white to match the Spanish Colonial facade of the original building.
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
You have a point

I question whether we have the capacity as a society to "build in the same style," Texasplanner. Cheap wood frame construction covered by fake brick veneer would almost look worse than "modern" construction. I need to post a picture of the awful "brick" veneer used to reclad a local bar near where I live. (With a city loan, to boot!) The ugly decaying stucco was almost better :(

Architecturally, these houses and apartments (let alone the commercial buildings) have a solidity and attention to detail that the modern suburban equivalents just don't have.

But, that's ok, by abandoning them, we can all live "in the country" in "Oakwood Farms" and "Wildwood Estates." -hey, we are living on an ESTATE everyone. The choice has been made in Saint Louis, sadly enough.

Will anyone mourn the 1962 ranchburger when it collapses? Who is going to save "Parkside Meadows"?
 

mike gurnee

Cyburbian
Messages
3,066
Points
30
Dan, regarding St. Charles:
I interviewed for eco devo job there 9 or 10 years ago. They had just recovered from the big flood. The city fathers and mothers wanted to change from a bedroom community to one that provided jobs for the citizens. Looks as if they did a good job attaining their goal. It was a nice town except for the casino.
 

SouthSideSlayer

Cyburbian
Messages
86
Points
4
Biggest cities 1900:

1.New York 3,437,202
2.Chicago 1,698,575
3.Philadelphia 1,293,697
4.St. Louis 575,238
5.Boston 560,892
6.Baltimore 508,957
7.Cleveland 381,768
8.Buffalo 352,387
9.San Francisco 342,782
10.Cincinnati 325,902
11.Pittsburgh 321,616
12.New Orleans 287,104
13.Detroit 285,704
14.Milwaukee 285,315
15.Washington 278,718
16.Newark 246,070
17.Jersey City 206,433
18.Louisville 204,731
19.Minneapolis 202,718
20.Indianopolis 169,164
21.Kansas City 163,752
22.St. Paul 163,065
23.Rochester 162,608
24.Denver 133,859
25.Columbus 125,560

1950:

1.New York City 7,891,957
2.Chicago 3,620,962
3.Philadelphia 2,071,605
4.Los Angeles 1,970,358
5.Detroit 1,849,568
6.Baltimore 949,708
7.Cleveland 914,808
8.St. Louis 856,796
9.Washington 802,178
10.Boston 801,444
11.San Francisco 775,357
12.Pittsburgh 676,806
13.Milwaukee 637,392
14.Houston 596,163
15.Buffalo 580,132
16.New Orleans 570,445
17.Minneapolis 521,718
18.Cincinnati 503,998
19.Seattle 467,591
20.Kansas City 456,622
21.Newark 438,776
22.Dallas 434,462
23.Indianopolis 427,173
24.Denver 415,786
25.San Antonio 408,442

In fact, since 1950 St. Louis has had the largest decline (percentage wise) of any major city in the entire world. 857,000 inhabitants in 1950, 348,000 inhabitants in 2000.



I posted the same STL pics on www.skyscraperpage.com also. Most of those buildings were demolished:


Clamorgan's Alley said:
Fortunately, many of those were completely demolished by the city in an effort to rid neighborhoods of decay, dumps, rodents and crack houses.

The city has torn down over 3,000 abandoned and unsalvageable structures since 1995. Residents voted to tax themselves in order to get the job done.

In the recent election, residents voted again to tax themselves to get rid of more than 1,500 identified structures.

In regards to the vacant land that is accumulating because of the demolitions, the city has sent out a RFP (or RFQ) to agencies that can come up with a massive plans for the land usage in order to assist developers who may have an interest in developing homes and other developments in the city.

Northside Developments

2 new high schools (1 recently opened)

Blumeyer Village: 500+ mixed income units

Grand Village: 100+ single family unit homes in Jeff Vander Lou neigborhood

Covenant Blu development (more single family homes)

Ruskin Town Homes (11 single family homes, 4 town homes)

Union West Florissant Housing Solutions Inc.: A major project renovating old buildings, homes, and building new homes and condos on the city limits.

3 new shopping centers (1 of which is 100% leased)

Proposed: 1 major shopping center featuring a Home Depot and Wal-Mart Neighborhood Store.

Other North St. Louis projects

Mullanphy Park (150 homes in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood)

New Sears Neighborhood store

Murphy Park Apartment Homes by McCormack Baron & Associates

Walgreen's (Natural Bridge @ Kingshighway)

Union Seventy Center Distribution/Warehouse Park (Old GM plant site)
Brought 1,000's of jobs to North St. Louis



Homer G. Phillips Dignity House (old hospital being transformed into senior living)
Almost completed.
 

JivecitySTL

Cyburbian
Messages
115
Points
6
I really find it humorous that only the bad sections of St. Louis have been represented on this thread, as if thriving, vibrant neighborhoods don't exist. Funny.

El Guapo-- St. Louis soulless? I don't know what St. Louis you're talking about, but there's nothing but soul here-- enough to make many cities jealous.

btw, every major metropolitan area in the USA has endless sprawling suburbs.

Here are some great pics of St. Louis for all to enjoy...







































 
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JivecitySTL

Cyburbian
Messages
115
Points
6























Oh so many more where these came from, I could go on and on extolling the virtues of my great city! STL is not for everyone, but if a hardcore, urban, soulful, bluesy, down-to-earth city is what you crave, you'll be happy here.

And El Guapo-- next time you come through St. Lou, try getting off the highway you dork.
 
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Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,346
Points
53
JivecitySTL ... you will be giving me a tour of The Lou once I get settled down in KC next month.

BTW, on my way back to Orlando, I drove the entire length of I-170, thus completing my navigation of the entire St. Louis area Interstate system. Was I-170 originally supposed to extend south of its current terminus? Right now, if you're driving fast enough, you'll end up crashing through a Super Target if you don't watch your driving.

I'm still wondering ... why live in St. Clair County, when one can live west of the Mississippi? Lower taxes? Cheaper real estate? Families who have always lived on the Illinois side, who are reluctant to break geographic tradition, much like the Buffalo Northtowns/Southtowns, Cleveland East Side/West Side, or Kansas City KCMO/JOCO/Northland divide?
 

SouthSideSlayer

Cyburbian
Messages
86
Points
4
Jive, I posted these pics because the thread was titled "St. Louis - Thumbs Down" One other reason is that I'm obsessed with urban decay, believe it or not. And when I'm in STL this February I will try to take some pics of rundown areas (expect some photo threads). Also, I'll be taking some pics of the city of East St. Louis. Well, it's hardly a city anymore since it has less than 40,000 inhabitants now.


Very nice pics by the way.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
Yeah, nice pictures. I may tag along with Dan and try to reverse my intial opinion if you will extend a welcome to nonbelivers. ;)
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Am I the only one who can NEVER see Jive's pictures? I like brick architecture-so . . .

Oh well, darn City firewall. Will have to check 'em out at home.
 

Streck

Cyburbian
Messages
604
Points
18
What is the difference between a "strip mall" and a "strip wall"?

St. Louis needs more "Sprawl"!
 
Messages
8
Points
0
I didn't see much suburban development at all when I visited April. There were areas. Perhaps you drove in an area by the airport? If you spent time in the O'Hare neighborhood or anywhere in the Bungalow belt, you'd think Chicago is similar. There is a wealth of mixed-use neighborhoods in St. Louis, which don't seem to be affected by decline at all. Jive and Gasm showed me a lot of vibrant areas of the city, and not just brick residences. Maybe you guys should take some more pics of the commercial areas?
 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,464
Points
29
Crime

What was so interesting was how low the crime rate is in Las Vegas. Not what I would expect.

Still, this chart was somewhat arbitrary. Counting every suburban aglomeration as a "City" seems somewhat misleading-even if "Cornfield Heights" now has 100,000 people and ten square miles of strip commercial :)
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
17,346
Points
53
Re: Crime

BKM said:
Still, this chart was somewhat arbitrary. Counting every suburban aglomeration as a "City" seems somewhat misleading-even if "Cornfield Heights" now has 100,000 people and ten square miles of strip commercial :)
The 'rents live smack in the middle of Amherst, New York, which claims to be the safest city in the United States. The crime rate in Amherst is outrageously low; the Amherst Bee is famous for its police blotter, which lists the hooliganism the town's cops deal with. Amherst, however, is a bucolic, primarily upper middle income mega-burb of Buffalo, with an omnipresent police department supported by some of the highest property taxes in the United States.

The 22nd safest city in the United States is another Buffalo suburb, Cheektowaga. Cheektowaga is a working class, predominantly Polish-American 'burg with a very large police department that is often accoused of racial profiling; the town is adjacent to some predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Buffalo.

The report states that El Paso, Texas is the third safest city in the US with a population of 500,000 or more. Having once lived near there, I can say that violent crime in El Paso is quite rare. However, there's quite a bit of property crime; the joke goes that the call of the El Paso Sparrow goes something like this ...
 

KCMatt

Member
Messages
3
Points
0
jivecityStl, I have always enjoyed the French inspired architecture that Stl has. It is something Kansas City missed out on as a younger city as it built the more Art Nuveau highrise apartments that beautify the Plaza. Because of Stl's early prominance in the 1st half of the century, much of its early built envireonment must be masonry or concrete. It seems from what I have seen and heard that much of Stl ignores the fact that it is built on the North tip of the New Madrid fault, which is possible of 8.0 earthquakes. Older buildings of such rigid, non-tensile structural constucts could not stand up to such a force and it seems that other cities such as Memphis are looking into base isolation techniques and other seismic bracing. Is the attitude in Stl that a large earthquake will never happen and what is being done to protect older structures, if anything, to resist such an event.
 

Howard Roark

Cyburbian
Messages
276
Points
10
St. Louis is siesmic zone 2 and must comply with all the regulations in the structural code adopted by the city and county that conform to the zone restrictions.

Most of the entral structure of older buildings are wood heavy timber construction, a few concrete, all have load baring exterior walls. When renovated those buildings are brought up to code for occupancy. Most of the time this involves additional lateral bracing in the walls, sometimes walls are releaved of baring at corners the most senstive areas, connections are usually reinforced. Some of the old buildings are steel construction.

Smaller brick structures, are not required to meet such strict guidelines. The smaller the floor plate and hieght of a building the less likely it is for damage.

While they may be damaged beyond repair the intent of the code is to minimize loss of life.

Memphis I would assume follows the same guidelines as most cities adopt the same codes. Though they may be under SBC instead of BOCA, either way they can't be too far off, if memory serves me correct BOCA is actually more conservative then the southern codes.

KC's high rises are more Art Deco, the son of Art Nuveau, with a little bit of Byzintine thrown in, not much Art Nuveau this side of the Atlantic.
 

Xing500

Cyburbian
Messages
112
Points
6
I live in St. Clair County and dont have any problems with it. Im MEXICAN,not white, and I am also cultured, I travel, and I attend a good university in Chicago. Seeing the metro east from the freeway is hardly what I would call exploring. Perhaps some of you should take a quick visit to my thread on the Metro East in the skyscraperpage forum.

http://skyscraperpage.com/forum/showthread.php?threadid=24503

A few samples.




 
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