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Friday, April 18, 2008

The Gateway Arch vs. St. Louis's long gone Warehouse District

Sure, Laclede's Landing survives as a portion of the 40-some blocks of commercial and manufacturing buildings that used to cling to the riverfront. It'd be great if this remnant were as cherished as it deserved to be; sadly, Laclede's Landing's magnificent stock of buildings has continued to decay despite its "entertainment district" status, and roughly half of the lots in the district are surface parking now.

Take a look at the picture below. This is South Main St., now covered by the depressed section of I-70, as well as Memorial Drive. Walnut is the cross street, as is evident by the street sign in the picture. That means that the Old Cathedral is on the east side of the block that is barely visible. [Edit: Actually, the Old Cathedral is located on what was Third and Walnut, not Main, but this is close nevertheless.]

Sure makes you rethink whether or not the Gateway Arch was a successful urban renewal program. (Yes, I am aware these blocks pictured were torn down in the 1930s, prior to any official "urban renewal" policy. And yes, I am aware they sat as a parking lot until the Arch's construction. So don't quite blame the Arch entirely! Blame the circa 1930s administration who thought these "outmoded" warehouses would never again have a useful function!)

This photo is courtesy of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), a Depression-era program that put civil engineers and architects to work documenting America's historic buildings, starting in the early 1930s.

Here's a bonus, of North First Street, demolished in 1940.

And N. 1st and Market:

And another view of the same block:


Doug Duckworth said...

Screw the Arch and the Highway. I want historic, urban buildings.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I would trade the Arch for those historical buildings, although many buildings were destroyed to make way for our mammoth Archgrounds, I would just focus on the historical gems we have in 2008 that are worth saving. Besides the Arch is the only urban renewal project that was worth a damn. Screw the highway though!

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