The opportunity to intern with The Grid gave me the chance to truly explore St. Louis, Missouri. With plans to open the National Blues Museum and create an international technology hub, to exploring the history of Forest Park and the city’s role in hosting the first US Olympics, there was already much of the city to discover. After six months of living in St. Louis, and learning about these topics through my community development coursework at Washington University, my own perception of the city has changed.
I would describe St. Louis as a regional patchwork made up of many neighborhoods, each with their own distinctive character. As I traveled around the city, the patches began to fill themselves in.
By covering urban planning topics for The Grid, I gained a better understanding of St. Louis’ faceted history and unique challenges. As a student of Architecture and Planning, I cannot think of a more formative place I could have spent this time. St. Louis is a city with rich cultural amenities, a core presence of higher education and medical facilities, and outstanding parks and open space. St. Louis is also home to a multitude of examples of creative businesses, sustainable design, and urban practices, of which the neighborhoods surrounding Cherokee Street, Washington Avenue and Delmar Boulevard, and the neighborhoods of The Grove and Soulard have stood out.
Perhaps, most importantly, St. Louis is a post-industrial city that is working to reinvent itself. While St. Louis has many distinctive neighborhoods, the city faces complex urban planning challenges primarily defined by the divisions between them. The redevelopment of the Delmar Loop and building upon the storied legacy of the City Museum are examples that prove revitalization is possible. The strength of the city's creative, non-profit promoting, start-up culture in the form of ArchGrants, and the surge of craft breweries as well as other local businesses are poised to create a dynamic turn-around. I am hopeful that with the success of a project like Cortex, a former industrial area turned science and technology district, the adaptation of land use will become a connecting link between neighborhoods. The single most important factor for change is time.
Credits: Images by Lindsay Naughton. Data linked to sources.