Due to a coincidence, the ninth anniversary of this website (technically back in May, but who’s checking) and my 3,000th post (again, a technicality since a few have been erased over the years or imported from other defunct blogs I had) arrived at the same time of year, so I thought, I should write something sublime for this august occasion.
I’ve been wracking my brain, trying to think up something amazing to write about, but I’m stumped. Honestly, the last nine years have seen lots of great preservation, or more importantly, redevelopment opportunities occur, but in reality, there has been way more abandonment and destruction in the northern half of the city. I drive and walk the same streets for nine years, and I get to know who lives on certain blocks. I find out who are homeowners, and who are renters. In general, the home owners are much older on the North Side, and on some blocks, the elderly are often the only people left. Either abandoned homes or vacant lots fill the rest of the street.
It dawned on me that some of the North Side’s previously stable middle class neighborhoods have a demographic crisis on their hands. When their elderly owners pass away in the next decade, I do not realistically see anyone who will replace them as homeowners. There will be huge swaths of the city that will be even more depopulated. In fact, based on my loose calculations, a strong majority of people live on the south side of Delmar. I suspect there might be less than 100,000 residents north of Delmar. Sadly, I also predict that in 2020, the population of the city will dip below 300,000 if the steady depopulation of the northern half of the city continues. Sadly, I see no reason why it won’t.
Why is an “architecture” website talking about people? Well, as I’ve said before, this website has always been about the people behind the buildings. Nostalgic history, I have dubbed it, has no interest to me. If the study of history does not somehow link up or make itself relevant to today’s problems and challenges, I’m not really interested in it. I really don’t like those Facebook pages that usually start with “Remember when…?” Actually, I don’t remember, and usually I don’t care. I am interested in what that historic house looked like in 1876, but mostly I’m interested in how it looks now. What role does it play in 2016?
Also, those Facebook pages steal my friends’ and my own photos all the time, never giving credit for our hard work. The most heinous is when one of my stolen pictures is accompanied with “I can’t believe what They did to the neighborhood” comments (Yes, that’s why the copyright popped up on my images earlier this year). Even worse than the previous type of comments are the “I would never go up there–you’d get murdered.” I can assure you that putzing around North St. Louis is perfectly safe. You might even make a new friend barbecuing along the side of the street (skip the bourgeois barbecue down south this summer and buy from somebody along the side of the street up north–trust me on this).
The vast majority of the City of St. Louis leadership is hopelessly incompetent. Until that changes, we’ll be back here in a year talking about more failure. Start paying attention. Good people all over this city are pointing out the failings of our government, and they’re trying to get you to listen. Listen to them, and you’ll learn about the tragic road this city is taking.
Thanks as always, and I hope you keep reading for the next year. And now a few updates:
Repairing Damage from This Winter’s Hacking
It’s taking a long time, but I’ve gotten through about 1,000 posts and verified that images are working, or reloading broken images. Bear with me. I am going through systematically, starting at the beginning while simultaneously working back from the present. Of course, as this posts alludes, I’ve got another 2,000 to check up on. It seems like 2011-2013 are ravaged the most. Honestly, I was already in the process of cleaning up and fixing posts, standardizing tags and categories, so it was work that needed to be done anyway. I generally fix any older post that I need to link to in new posts.
Jeff Philips Joining as an Occasional Contributor
You’ve seen my good friend from college in the reflections on plate glass windows for years, and I’ve also used his photos on occasion. In the future, I’ve invited Jeff to post his own photographs from our explorations, and he possesses a great eye for taking pictures of buildings in St. Louis. Or in some situations, he’s sitting on the right side of the car and can snag a picture I can’t get while driving. I’m not accepting any other contributors; Jeff has known me for twenty years so that shows you how long you have to wait for me to trust you with my website!
Simplified Categories and Tagging
You might have already noticed, but I eliminated tags that were duplicated by categories. I had thought about doing that years ago, but finally acted on it, reducing the obvious redundancy. I might also in the future eliminate the word “historic” in front of the three dozen or so tags with that prefix. Again, it’s repetitive, and just makes for more verbosity.
New Menu Option Later This Year
If you look closely, there are tags I called “Special Topics,” such as Cherokee Street or St. Liborius Church, which don’t fall under neighborhoods. I will be creating a new page you can click on at the top that will allow you to easily access all of those posts for streets, companies, buildings or families that frequently appear on this website.