Lee Avenue Between North Newstead and Warne Avenues

I don’t know what it is, but as soon as you cross over North Newstead Avenue into the Fairgrounds neighborhood, the trail drops out from underneath you. The housing stock is older, and that definitely plays a part. But what can I say when I cover a mile and 90% of all I see are abandoned buildings and vacant lots along a secondary artery? It’s deeply discouraging.

I’ve been looking at the forlorn stretch of Lee Avenue for at least thirteen years. I first saw it back in November of 2010, then November of 2015, once more again in September of 2017 and most recently in December of 2019. The last time we were on foot and there was a stray pitbull sitting in the middle of the street so we decided to turn around.

Something about this photo below sort of sums up my experience; a single house sitting all by itself in the middle of vacant lots stretching several parcels in both directions, trash collecting in the front lawn like a magnet. What else is there to say?

Wide open vistas abound.

Seriously, have you ever heard any politician say they have a solution for what’s happened to Lee Avenue? Besides your typical platitudes and talking points that have been bandied about since the 1960s?

I’m not planning on coming back up this way for a long time. It’s just not safe. I am always arguing against stereotypes and prejudices, but this is one part of the city that is too dangerous.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Dorris Keeven-Franke says:

    Stay safe Chris. You do great giving us the true picture but we need you to stay safe

  2. Beverly Snider says:

    Keep in mind the majority of St.Louis communities were “working class. Simultaneously the auto industry in Missouri also had small subsidiaries , owned by local companies, where u would see small factories the size of 4 car garages. Point being, the big 3\Ford, GM, &Chrysler, had identified locations in other countries to build factories, where folks would work @$2.00 an hr.

    Majority subsidiaries were in Detroit . The old saying since 1920’s/. “When Detroit sneezes, the whole world catches a cold”…

    1. cnaffziger says:

      That’s very true. I would still be interested in the individual stories of each building; why was House A finally abandoned? Why did Apartment Building B finally get torn down? Each abandoned building is a small story that is part of a larger narrative.

      1. Steve S. says:

        Liked the brick( at least front) Dutch colonial. Seems most any rennasaince of these areas happens at a grass roots level. Ie the Gay community sparking many an inner city revival. I suppose local goverment theoretically could help but at least in the US, endemic corruption is a major road block. Though seeing these fallen or falling old gems is bittersweet, I appreciate you documenting this living history of St. Louis architecture.

  3. ME says:

    Thank you for documenting all that you have of the northside Chris! It intresting to see all of the variety of Architecture that is both similar & different from other parts of the region.

    Did you experience any altercations in the Fairgrounds neighborhood?

    I remember visiting that neighborhood with my grandparents in the 1980s to see their first house they bought after they were married. I don’t remember seeing any abandoned buildings or feeling unsafe. I remember it as a tree-lined street with houses that gave you the same feel as if you were in the Tower Grove neighborhood today. As time went on, sometime in the 1990s I remember my uncle who worked for the city telling my grandparents never to venture up there again because of the crack epidemic was so prevalent in and around that area. I used to go check up on the old house in the early 2000s, but I don’t think I would go anymore myself. People are too brazen nowadays anywhere you go!

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