I found myself checking out those blocks cut off by the construction of the Mark Twain Expressway that is known as the Near North Riverfront. First up is the storefront left behind with the demolition of the apartment building on Branch Avenue. I’ve also looked at the area in 2012, which has become increasingly industrial over the years, though grand plans by the City of St. Louis to create a thriving industrial park have never come to fruition.
The houses above are on 11th Street, which is a diagonal remnant of a former alignment of Bellefontaine Road. One may be occupied, but the other is trashed and vacant. How would you feel if you lived in this house and the interstate was constructed in your backyard? It would destroy your property value and quality of life. You may actually wish your house would have been bought out, too.
But then there is a surprise. The normal assumptions are challenged, as a recently renovated corner storefront appears at the northwest corner of Dock and N. 9th streets.
In fact, while there are some deteriorated buildings (remember the load-bearing walls are on the sides, so the house below is still salvageable), there are still beautiful, well preserved houses like the Second Empire one above.
Others have been saved by being incorporated into industrial buildings, like the one below.
On the east side of N. 9th Street, however, the surprises really come. They are immaculately maintained, and looking around back, there are some real treasures.
Multiple restored and preserved alley houses, which would have populated much of the inner core of St. Louis, are still standing.
These two houses on the end, both in the front and in the back, have received Formstone, but they’re occupied and in good shape.
At one time, this would have been the norm, and not the exception to see alley houses lining the backstreets of most blocks.