Chippewa Street, Then and Now

Till’s Market, Chippewa and Nebraska, 1935, Photograph by William Swekosky, Missouri History Museum, N05016

I know I swore sometime back in 2007 or 2008 that I would never let St. Louis Patina become one of those “St. Louis Then and Now” sites, instead focusing on the here and now, and how historic architecture influences the world today. That being said, sometimes it’s fun to do a comparison of old photographs with what is currently here, and wonder if we’re going in the right direction as far as fiscal decisions and sustainability. For example, can’t we imagine that the building above, properly restored and brought up to modern standards (and don’t give me the “too gone to be saved line”) would bring in more tax revenue and wages to the City and its residents than what we now see below?

In fairness, an apartment building in generally good condition on the left has been built, but look what happened to the rest of the parcels. Also, speaking as a veteran of recognizing junkers, that car is abandoned…The reason no one has gotten it towed away is that there is no one nearby to notice that it’s been sitting there for months.

Unidentified House, Northeast Corner Iowa and Chippewa, Photograph by William Swekosky, c. 1940-59, Missouri History Museum, N04371

But then there’s also these positive photographs, where I feel like this Second Empire four-family actually looks just as good if not better than it did in the early Twentieth Century. Unfortunately, it is currently abandoned.

Further down, at the northeast corner of Broadway/Jefferson/Chippewa, this stunning building could be such an asset, but instead…

Sander’s Grocery, Northeast Corner of Chippewa Street and Broadway, Photograph by Richard Henry Fuhrmann, Missouri History Museum, P0764-00693-4a

It’s replaced with a parking lot that is never used by anyone, beyond that nice fountain. I see so many parking lots in this city that are always empty where tax-generating buildings once stood. St. Louis needs tax revenue, more than anything else. Most problems could be fixed if it had more money to spend fixing up infrastructure and other problems of a big city.

I actually have some of my own old photos, which I dug out of the vault. The building below, at the southeast corner of Chippewa and California, is now home to Gooseberries, which is a fantastic restaurant that I hope you can support right now during the pandemic. But back in 2011, when this photograph was taken, the storefront was sitting empty.

I photographed this building back in 2011 as well below, and revisited it again in December of 2019 (last photo). There seems to have been some other business in the building at the time. It’s a beautiful building.

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