Dan, Madison Street and Beyond, JeffVanderLou

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Update: Dan’s house seemed to be vacant and graffiti covered as of the spring of 2016.

As we were photographing the houses seen yesterday on Leffingwell, a man came out to his car, and greeted us. His name was Dan, and he and his family have lived at the corner of Madison and Leffingwell for several generations.

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We talked about what it’s like to live in this forgotten corner of the city, and the daily challenges, but also the pride he has for holding on to his family’s house.

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I realized that in all of this academic discussion that is currently going on in St. Louis about Paul McKee’s plans, the city’s powerbrokers and its critics have seldom just simply walked around the Near North Side, just talking to people, not in a position of power and weakness, but just two people standing in the street.

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Dan in particular voiced his displeasure at the corn and bean fields planted a couple blocks away in St. Louis Place. He found it insulting, and in particular the image it projected that the he and his neighbors had no opinion, or didn’t care about what happened around them. Dan was the complete opposite: intelligent, well-spoken and passionate. He was not the stereotype that both sides of the political aisle in St. Louis view as the stereotype of a North St. Louis resident. For the record, no one consulted anyone in the neighborhood about the corn and bean experiment.

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Was Dan going to stick around there forever? Maybe not; it’s hard being the only occupied house in two hundred feet. And when no one bothers to care about him or his neighbors, it’s easy to see why.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jan says:

    I think it is great to find a guy like Dan who has found a place and they stay. Unfortunately the neighborhood has gone. We need more people like Dan. It must be painful to him to see the decay of the buildings and he probably knew many of the families who have come and gone. How was his family able to hold on and maintain their property and continue to live in an area that has lost so much?

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Good question, Jan. I think sometimes the years just fly by, the houses go vacant one by one, and before you know if you’re the only person left.

  2. Ann says:

    Love this write up on Dan! I am so glad we met him.

  3. K says:

    Dan pretty much made that day for me. His discussion of what that factory was as well was fascinating.

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