Neighborhood newsletters provide a unique opportunity to view history at the micro-level. Often reporting news too localized for the major daily (or dailies, as used to be the case) to cover, they therefore allow an intimate look into the past.
The Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood's newspaper--The Times of Skinker DeBaliviere--is now available online dating back to 1970. The Times is one of St. Louis's most substantial neighborhood newspapers and is religiously updated and posted to the website. Don't miss the current issues even if I'm only highlighting their archives here.
I selected one of the newspapers to get a look at the news of the day--December 1970.
On the first page is a plan to reinvigorate the West End by "retain[ing] and strengthen[ing] the single family character of the area and [replacing] delapidated apartment houses with new developments."
This plan also included turning DeBaliviere into a pedestrian parkway, with east-west alleys that touch it becoming dedicated through-streets. This would ostensibly benefit the ailing shopping center at DeBaliviere and Pershing.
Yet another portion of the plan was to realign DeBaliviere to connect with Goodfellow to the west.
A part of the plan that seems to have been adopted was the proposal to close most of the streets to through-traffic.
Two blocks were targeted for reconstruction due to their deteriorating, multi-family make-up: 5700 Kingsbury and 5800 Washington. Today, 5700 Kingsbury is indeed a smattering of relatively newly constructed housing units whose design flaws are partially forgiven by generous tree cover. Most of 5800 Washington disappeared as well. In the captures below, you can view both blocks. See how Washington was cut off to make open space for the nearby school? Well, it appears that they left the last building on Washington before its intersection with DeGiverville standing.
This was certainly a late urban renewal project that was probably a net loss for the neighborhood in the long run. I also think it's time to consider reopening streets to through traffic, since closed off streets give off a vibe of privacy that impedes pedestrian as well as vehicular flow.
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See what interesting historical stuff you can find from these newspapers? Check them out for yourself.
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