I grew up on Itaska Street in Bevo Mill. At a very young age, I lived on Itaska Street in the Southampton neighborhood. One of my first self-guided, no-passengers driving architectural tours through the city was to cruise the entire length of Itaska Street, which had been my home address for most of my life in St. Louis. While I quickly learned that I-55 made that an impossibility in the strict sense, and that Itaska jogs several times and is never a straight shot, I saw a street that is in so many ways quintessentially St. Louis.
From the sturdy red brick late 19th/early 20th century structures of Dutchtown to the fanciful Tudor stylings of St. Louis Hills' section of Itaska; every moment of it oozed uniqueness and told the story of St. Louis's westward expansion and development. I suppose this was all fitting. Itaska Street is named after Minnesota's Lake Itasca--the headwaters of the Mississippi River. One special street of a great American city, like our nation's great river, is sinuous, complicated, and gripping all at once.
No stretch of Itaska is more notable than its run between Virginia, on the east, and Grand, on the west. It's here that some developer or developers built some of the South Side's most interesting little shaped-parapet "castles". I don't believe I've seen another city that has whole rows of these little romantic brick ramparts. Some have polychromed arches above doorways and windows; others have "Beetlejuice" themed awnings. Some even have dueling griffins! Here are some of Itaska Street's greatest hits in Dutchtown.
If you're still not convinced and don't think it looks like much from Google Streetview captures, go walk the street for yourself. How do such small houses command such an urban presence?
You'd think that we bloggers, with our environs becoming increasingly crowded, would run out of facets of St. Louis to freak out over--but they keep on coming. That's because St. Louis rocks your face.
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