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Sunday, December 13, 2009

This is St. Louis's Best Street

No, I don't have the answer. I'm only posing the question.

Imagine you had a famous urban planner coming in town who wished to get a sense of the city, but s/he only had time to traverse one street, with no deviations from that one street. You're selected as her/his guide. You'd be walking, so would not need to worry about street blockages like barriers and closures.

Which street in St. Louis would be the greatest for telling the story of our city? Ideally this would be a mostly positive experience, but St. Louis has and has had some pretty down moments, so it's expected that you'll run into some trouble spots. But remember the point is to find the most "impressive" street to guide a visitor along. I'll let you define impressive.

Which street do you choose?

Rules: For the road you choose, you must traverse its entire length. For the sake of keeping it interesting, the road must be at least 1 mile long. (Sorry, fans of Hemp Avenue in Forest Park Southeast)! If the street breaks or dog-legs, you are allowed to move around the obstacle and resume the course of the street so long as it retains the same name and is understood to be the same street. You are also allowed to "walk across" interstates.


Rick Bonasch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Bonasch said...

I'll make a few nominations.

Florissant Road in north city. I'd need a map in front of me to get all the name changes along its course right. I'm referring to the road which passes Bethelem Lutheran Church, Ptskowski's sausage shop in Hyde Park (yeah, I butchered that spelling), O'Fallon Park, Bellefontaine and Calvary cemeteries, and leads into St. Louis county.

St. Louis Avenue is a good possibility. It takes you past the revitalized N. 14th Street mall area, the mansions just west of Florissant Road, the Polish Falcons, cool sections of the Ville, and then through an interesting section of north city with tiny houses and storefront churches. Off hand I can't think what happens to it as it gets close to the city limits and then whether in crosses into St. Louis County.

The Vandeventer/Southwest Avenue connection is a great one. Lots of great spots along the way, including our much debated Favazza's restaurant.

I like Broadway through South City. I like the northern part of it near the old Lemp Brewery, especially the section where the road turns and the buildings hug the curved street line (just south of the Off Broadway show club). That stretch reminds me a lot of Baltimore. It would be cool if someone opened a bash-your-own crab and cold beer style eatery. I also like it when it reaches the bottoms in Carondelet from just south of Bellerive Park down to River Des Peres.

Ivanhoe in Epiphany parish is good, especially if you have time to visit Killer Vintage, Pizza A-Go-Go, or the simple and elegant interior of Epiphany Catholic Church (its parish school is on the verge of closing).

Lots of streets on the Hill are great streets, but my favorite ones are probably not a mile long. Maybe.

There are great streets all over town. I have a friend who had a goal in life to walk every block of every one of them. That would take a lifetime I'm sure but sure would be good exercise.

Matt M. said...

Good choices, Rick!

I like the pick of St. Louis Avenue; it definitely expresses the story of St. Louis. And it goes essentially from the riverfront to city limits, so it's an especially good choice for showing the whole city.

I'd choose St. Louis over MLK, simply because the MLK portion near downtown is almost empty and a good portion of it is a mixed use district only. I like how St. Louis Avenue shows mixed use neighborhoods, wealthy single family mansions, small shotguns, lots of churches, etc.

For South City, Arsenal seems like a good route. You'd start at the riverfront, pass the St. Louis Arsenal for which the street is named, the A-B complex, Gus's Pretzels, the Second Empire town houses of Benton Park, Grand South Grand and Mokabe's, Tower Grove Park, the Hill/Southwest Garden, the State Hospital, and Southwest City. said...

Gravois Avenue from the 44/55 exchange and out to the County line just past the River Des Peres.

West Florissant also shows the physical history of White Flight.

Mark Groth said...

Russell east to west.
Broadway norht to south.

STLgasm said...


Andrew J. Faulkner said...

I second Grand.

I would also say that picking one street name is unoriginal since St. Louis's tangent street-grid results in so many amazing collisions.

So my choices would be
#1 Gravois/Tucker/Florissant transect all the way from Scotsdale at Highway MM to where W. Florissant deadends into New Halls Ferry. This shows the landscape from original ozark plateau through urbanization, suburbanization and de-urbanization.

#2 Hampton/Debaliviere/Goodfellow/Riverview Drive from the River Des Peres to the Mississippi.

A few years ago I was in a studio examining the Market/Chouteau/Manchester transect from the Mississippi to Wildwood and that was interesting as well for the landscape and development patterns.

Unknown said...

North and South Grand Boulevard is pretty darn epic. It is chock full of triumph, tribulation, 2000s rehabilitation, 1960s renewal, industrial, bucolic. everything!

kristan said...

Russell. I've long been talking up the "Russell Corridor" neighborhoods- SOulard, McKinley Hts., Fox Park, Compton Heights, Compton Res., Shaw.

Doug Duckworth said...


At least I would like it to reflect our future: white people left, immigrants came in and saved the area, ironically whites came back, and hopefully they don't push out the immigrants.

erina said...

I'm seconding Toby on Gravois.

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