Search This Blog (A.K.A. "I Dote On...")

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Itaska Castles Make For Yet Another Delightful St. Louis Streetscape

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.


Anonymous said...

Well I must say, you sure know how to write interesting pieces. I particularly love the Itaska Street blog. It was an interesting and unique perspective of a once thought of by me, as an ordinary street in an ordinary city. Nice job Matt!!

Matt M. said...

Thanks for the comments, Anonymous!

That's what this blog is all about! I hope people can appreciate how unique St. Louis is--even in its parts which seem ordinary. The Central West End/Lafayette Square, etc. don't have a monopoly on greatness. All of St. Louis has flair!

Thanks for reading.

Fashion STL Style!

Fashion STL Style!
St. Louis Gives You the Shirt Off of Its Own Back!

Next American City

Next American City
Your Go-To Source for Urban Affairs

Join the StreetsBlog Network!

Join the StreetsBlog Network!
Your Source for Livable Streets

Trust in Rust!

Trust in Rust!
News from the Rustbelt

Dotage St. Louis -- Blogging the St. Louis Built Environment Since 2008

Topics: Historic Preservation, Politics and Government, Development, Architecture, Urban Planning, Urban Design, Local Business, Crime and Safety, Neighborhoods, and Anything Else Relating to Making St. Louis a Better City!