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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lest crimes be reported as merely those of "St. Louis"...

...the honorable former mayor Vincent C. Schoemehl, Jr. suggested a neighborhood name designation program that is mostly unaltered today.

A St. Louis Post-Dispatch article written in 1989 focuses primarily on how crime reporting will change post-neighborhood definitions. No longer will all of "north St. Louis" be pegged with the wrongdoings of "Mark Twain", it says. And it says again. And again. And again. ... And again:

The Police Department is cooperating with Schoemehl's plan by designating specific neighborhoods of occurrence in police reports. ''We hope it will instill some pride in the neighborhoods,'' Police Chief Robert E. Scheetz said. So, police reports will reflect that: If a drug dealer is shot in the 3300 block of Clara Avenue, he's shot in the Wells Goodfellow neighborhood, in addition to the specific address. If a man is arrested for cultivating marijuana on Garner Avenue in southwest St. Louis, he's arrested in Franz Park. If a woman is robbed in the 1700 block of South Grand Boulevard, she's been robbed in Tiffany. If a woman is raped in the 1900 block of Benton Street, she's raped in St. Louis Place. If another woman is raped in the 3900 block of Cote Brilliante Avenue, she's raped in the Greater Ville. If a man is arrested for selling cocaine in the 5200 block of Lillian Avenue, he's also arrested in the Mark Twain neighborhood.

Why is our major daily speaking of hypothetical rapes?

Okay, so I'm picking on this article that is rather interesting. I had always wondered when today's neighborhood nomenclature had arisen.

As if to taunt, however, LexisNexis refuses to let me see the graphic in the original article, which is said to contain a map of Schoemehl's 74 neighborhoods, not today's 79.

Luckily, the bottom of the article leaves us to guess with its text only description of the graphic, featuring all of the following neighborhoods that, I suppose, did not make the cut or are slightly different from those that did.

  • Kingshighway South (Northhampton, I assume, since Southampton is there.)
  • The "Southwest" and "Garden" neighborhoods are not yet merged.
  • North Tower Grove (Shaw's there, but Tower Grove South isn't. That wouldn't make sense though. (?))
  • Dutchtown's just Dutchtown (no South) and McKinley is just McKinley (no Heights).
  • East Compton (Tower Grove East?)
  • Terry Park(Gate District - western portion)
  • Lafayette Towne (Also the Gate District)
  • Central Business District (As opposed to Downtown and Downtown West)
  • Forest Park South (No "Southeast")
  • University High Area (King's Oak, I suppose, but "High Area"? Are you kidding me?)
  • Cabanne (This one appeared on Norbury Wayman's 1970s-era neighborhood list--this is today's "West End")
  • Ivory (In Carondelet? The Ivory Triangle? But it's grouped with all of the north neighborhoods...)
  • Perry (Anyone?)

It's funny how un-organically and in top-down fashion these neighborhoods were created. Yes, they used current neighborhood organization boundaries, but some seem rather ignored today (Hamilton Heights, Kings Oak) and other obvious ones aren't even represented (Dogtown instead of Clayton-Tamm, etc.; Laclede's Landing; Kingshighway Hills in Northampton).

Maybe reexamining neighborhood boundaries/names would reawaken civic pride (or at least activity). A citywide charette in several different neighborhoods where residents have to show up to defend and define their 'hoods might be just the sort of civic revival that is needed for St. Louisans to take pride enough in their neighborhoods to avoid another Southtown Centre or St. Louis Marketplace.

Just a thought.


lana said...

surely the last two have something to do with Ivory Perry Park?

Matt M. said...

Too funny! I let the semicolons between each individual word get to me in this instance. Ivory Perry Park abuts Visitation Park (neighborhood), right?

Because Visitation Park wasn't listed either.

Aha. I think you have solved the mystery.

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