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Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Post-Dispatch Puts Online Some Great Shots of the Now-Gone Mill Creek Valley Neighborhood Circa 1948

Click here. (I probably can't legally screen cap these, so click while you can! I'm actually thinking of buying one of them...)

These are heartrending.

I truly believe if this area were still existent today and did not experience too much demolition, St. Louis University would never have even needed to "save" Midtown. The lack of a pedestrian-scale neighborhood in the Central Corridor from the Mississippi River to about Sarah Avenue is striking and something that has held the city's revitalization back entirely.

Much of the housing seen in these photographs was built in the Civil War-era (the mansard-roofed Second Empires were likely 1870s construction). Unfortunately, Soulard and Old North are the only remaining neighborhoods with much housing left from those eras. A supremely historic city, especially being so far west in the American landscape, has very little record of its earlier history. It's especially disappointing to see the conditions of the Mill Creek homes; they look great! Sure they had outdoor restroom facilities. Was that a reason to clear dozens and dozens of solid residential blocks? Sigh.

Will developments like Art House bring a new human scale architectural dynamic to St. Louis's pockmarked Central Corridor?

At the very least, we can breathe a sigh of relief that the Locust Automotive Row (a.k.a. Midtown Alley) is picking up steam and is turning into a really cool and soon to be active business district. And Samuel Shepard just north of Locust does feature some remnants of Mill Creek-style housing (3-story Italianates and Second Empires). Maybe someday we'll see a proposal to develop sensitive infill along this stretch (unlike the cheap rowhouses with the red doors that we see currently) so that there will finally be a pedestrian link from downtown all the way to the Central West End.

7 comments:

Herbie Markwort said...

Mind boggling is the use of the word "rejuvenated" to describe the cleared landscape in the 10th photo. So sad.

Jason M. Stokes said...

Have to get those blacks out of there to allow rejuvenation! Besides, who would live in Pruitt Igoe and Darst Webbe if we didn't evict them from their homes in the name of progress?

These pictures make me want to barf.

Ben said...

What's amazing is how many people decry what happened to Mill Creek Valley, but support McKee's wholesale land clearance and resident displacement on the north side.

Brian said...

Photo 11 of 13 is amazing.

Andrew J. Faulkner said...

Matt-
Here's another picture to make you cry. This is courtesy of the national archives of the riverfront cleared for the arch.

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Doug Duckworth said...

April Ford-Griffin said McKee is Mill Creek, but of course she didn't have problems taking his money since 2003.

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