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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Miami and Louisiana - a remarkable intersection

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[You can play around with this map, by the way. It's not a screen capture!]

Using Google's Streetview option, I was gliding through Gravois Park when I stopped at this intersection. An immediate nostalgia for old south St. Louis swept over me. Here, at the southwest corner of Gravois Park, stand three intact storefront buildings (though none of them seems commercial anymore). The neighborhood around them, though down at the heels, is also mostly physically present. Just west on Miami looms the South Side National Bank Building (or SouthSide Tower), providing an excellent terminal vista for the street.

Not the park, not any one of the three buildings, and very few of the surrounding residential units seem masterfully designed, worthy of any awards or other recognition. And yet, in many ways, they are just right. I don't mean that in a "Three Bears" sense. I mean, the streetscape, the park, they're simply...correct. How things should be built: to the street, with individuality and uniqueness and yet humility, offering mixed uses and more shelf life, sturdy and sensitive all at once.

Our present built heritage represents enormous potential. It's an intersection like this one--which hopefully will not see demolitions anytime soon--that restores my faith in St. Louis's potential as a functioning, healthy city.

I had to do this post out of my severe depression over Ecology of Absence's devastating 1985 photos of North Florissant.

(Another great thing about this intersection? Dad's Cookies is juuuust down the road! Yummy!)


Doug Duckworth said...

Gravois Park is one of my favorite neighborhood parks. I may end up moving there.

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