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Friday, June 5, 2009

Skinker-DeBaliviere's community newspaper places its archives online

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.

[Click to Expand]

See what interesting historical stuff you can find from these newspapers? Check them out for yourself.


Brian said...

The Kingsbury Place townhouse development was built by Leon Strauss/Pantheon. It's kind of suburban-y (or maybe Kirkwood/Webster-y), but it's actually pretty nice. Most of the units face the central park, and it's kind of a pretty setting.

Brian said...

BTW, how great are the ads in that 1970 newspaper?

Matt M. said...

LOL ^ I know.

Re: your first comment,

I agree that Kingsbury Place is not altogether without merit. As I said, the tree cover alone makes it worthwhile. I am just a tad regretful that a whole couple blocks of those classic S-D apartment buildings were torn down to make way for the development.

Where in S-D did you live, Brian?

Brian said...

I actually lived in DeBaliviere Place, just on the other side of DeBaliviere. In college, I lived on Pershing and on Clara, and then I bought a condo on Pershing, close to Belt. Such a great area.

BTW, check out Feb. 1985. It has pictures of the buildings that once stood on DeBaliviere, where the strip mall is. Apparently there were plans to rehab them, but I haven't found the issue that explains why they were torn down instead.

Matt M. said...

Wow. Great find. That deserves a post!

Mary said...

Wow-to think I have lived in this neighborhood for almost six years, yet have to knowledge of the community newspaper. I will have to take a look at the archives when I get a chance. Thanks for posting.

Marj Weir said...

The location of the Archives of The Times of Skinker DeBaliviere is now I was pleased to see that people are actually looking at our old issues!

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