Update: All of the houses are demolished now, and the streets are blocked off to prevent access to the neighborhood with the exception of a City of Bridgeton park. I revisited the area in November of 2022.
A couple of Sundays ago I headed out to the Carrollton subdivision in the northwest St. Louis County suburb of Bridgeton. Alerted by a Post-Dispatch article, I knew I had to examine and photograph one of the great tragedies resulting from the expanded Lambert Airport.
Bought out by the City of St. Louis for noise abatement, the subdivision has been targeted by arsonists as the houses sit, waiting to be demolished.
What is left is an absolutely surreal landscape; trees delineate where houses once stood, and the remnants of crumbling concrete streets dominate the landscape.
Apparently the area is the playground for local teens looking for a place to party and engage in a little “harmless vandalism.”
It certainly is what is called an attractive nuisance: an area that seems perfect for bored suburban teenagers looking for something to do, however delinquent, instead of ending up at Steak and Shake for the fiftieth weekend in a row.
The presence of asbestos has apparently slowed the pace of demolition, which is where the arsonist(s) come into play. I call them “guilt-free arsonists,” individuals who somehow think it is less immoral to burn down buildings that are under construction or abandoned. Never mind that there is always the risk of someone getting hurt in any uncontrolled fire, however remote.
A former resident has been documenting the demise of her beloved subdivision at 56 Houses Left. This website can imbue the sense of loss that the residents are feeling as they watch their neighborhood disintegrate, much in the same manner as St. Louis Place or JeffVanderLou. Failed government policies lead to yet another devastated neighborhood.
Of all the exploration around the “bad parts of town” in the St. Louis metropolitan area, I can admit that this was the first time I really felt scared. This area is desolate; it’s sort of one of those areas where if something happened to you, no one would be around to come to your aid.
That said, it is still worth a visit just to see the decline and destruction of a whole community.