Reckless Stupidity, Compton Avenue and Arsenal Street, Tower Grove East

Update: A false start of repairs began a couple of weeks after the collision; reconstruction was only largely completely finally in April of 2023. The building was finally rebuilt in the spring of 2023.

Well, it finally happened. An insane, totally irresponsible jerk was hurtling through my neighborhood of Tower Grove East and crashed into another car, and then came to rest at the base of the beautiful corner store at the northwest corner of South Compton Avenue and Arsenal Street. No word yet if the building will be saved or not, but based on the high real estate values in the neighborhood, I’m optimistic it probably will. I photographed it in better times (second photo) and also featured it in this post where I included a historic photograph from one hundred years ago (last three photos).

It brings back bad memories for me, and how despite all the notable improvements and rehabbing in Tower Grove East, the Arsenal Street corridor is still suffering from absentee landlords’ poor maintenance and heavy traffic and the negative effects they bring (it should be noted that the landlord of this building is a responsible owner). To the east, at Michigan Avenue and Arsenal, there is still a vacant lot, now filled with a slumlord’s garbage, where a storefront that once housed artists in the 1970s was allowed to deteriorate, as you can see in this post from 2011, then worsening in 2012, and then finally collapsing in 2013 in a storm.

Right now, the beautiful terracotta is being used to hold the sawhorses for the caution tape. I hope this building will be saved, but who knows.

And of course, nobody has learned from this incident, and the horrific, reckless driving continues at this intersection.

When will St. Louisans realize that the rapid decline in the traffic situation in this city and suburbs will negatively affect our competitiveness on the national stage? I’ve traveled to many other cities recently, and it’s not “like this everywhere.” We have a serious problem, and it’s many people’s fault.

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Karl Bandow says:

    Criminal… Absolutely criminal. I hope that it can be restored and not that the impact shifted the structure off its foundation…

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      I think the cast iron column cushioned the blow to the building, and the rest of the structure is solid. The collapse is due to the loss of the support of that column. I’m cautiously optimistic.

  2. Julie Vomund says:

    I’m just so angry. I’m angry that even in the shadow of this, people are still driving just as bad as ever as I try to walk this. This time the car hit another car and a building. Next time it might be people.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      A man in an electric wheelchair was killed last weekend by a hit-and-run driver up in North County. It’s disgusting.

  3. Stephen W Bruns says:

    I blame the media’s obsession with glamorizing fast, reckless driving. From movies to video games. NoCo is like one big game of Grand Theft Auto, with drivers drag racing, running lights, and weaving in and out of traffic. Self-driving vehicles can’t get here soon enough.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Agreed and agreed. If readers ever wonder why I have so few posts of North County, it’s because the insane driving keeps me away. I can’t wait for self-driving cars to take over.

  4. Everett says:

    I often visit St. Louis as my mother still lives there in her nineties and I have also noticed the extreme nature of some of the drivers who weave in and out of freeway traffic like they were in a ‘Fast and Furious” movie. I’ve lived in Southern California for 47 years and I’ve never encountered such crazy driving or witnessed so many instances of cars crashing into buildings, street lamps, telephone poles and anything that happens to be adjacent to a roadway. In the sixties I used to work at a shoe store on Grand Ave. near the Fox and one day I came to work and a car had crashed into the front store window. I turned around, got on the bus, and never looked back.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Interesting, Everett. Many people in St. Louis have the perception that LA drivers are all in a “Fast and Furious” movie, so it’s good to get your perspective. It’s similar to the perception of Italian drivers–I was back in that country in 2018 and I realized that they are much, much safer drivers than in St. Louis.

  5. Colleen Shaw says:

    Chris, love your website. Love St. Louis architecture. Please do North County.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Any suggestions on places to check out?

      1. K says:

        You might enjoy experiencing the effects of two instances of major flooding – and the lack of funds to rebuild – on what used to be Columbia Bottom Road in Columbia Bottoms Conservation Area. That upheaved road makes it seem as though one must commit to hiking in, until one realizes that other roads exist to allow a drive close to the rivers. Plus, I do wonder if youd be able to dig up more info on the 19th century town of St. Vrain that once existed there.

        1. Chris Naffziger says:

          I’ve run across the plat map for the town that was planned up there! I don’t know if it said St. Vrain, but now I need to go back and check it and see! Was anything ever built?

          1. k says:

            As I understand it, if there ever was, it was washed away over rounds of flooding. It seems possible that the St. Vrain picnic shelter in Spanish Lake Park was named after it, for instance.

          2. k says:

            Oh! And for what its worth, the mourning dove-attracting sunflowers are now in bloom at CB.

  6. Charles Tandy says:

    LOL this is nothing new. Glad nobody was hurt. I teach HS seniors in North STL and I have learned from them that a driver’s license is not held in high regard as a necessary credential to pilot an automobile. Students have shared that they have been pulled over, and the police do not ask for their license. We all observe the unlicensed vehicles operated illegally on the streets of STL. The operators think little of motor vehicle laws. This is the state of affairs. My wife and 2 year old son were T boned on their way to the historic school where I teach by an unlicensed motorist who sped through a stop sign, totalling the vehicle and injuring my family. Glad I moved out of STL and sold my property. Should have sooner.
    Gosh, Compton and Arsenal!? Isn’t that a giant concrete ball intersection? May be mistaken. Money well spent.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Many of the concrete balls have been removed. We noticed a dramatic improvement in safety after they were installed that you would not have observed since you admitted to not living nearby.

  7. Charles Tandy says:

    Moved off the south side within the last year. My great grandfather owned the old pharmacy two blocks up from this wreckage. The building which housed the now defunct Tower Grove Provisions. Grandma sewed at the hat shop on California and Cherokee and ran a business with my grandpa at Soulard Market for over 50 years. Anyway. St. Louis finally lost me. Not where I want to live anymore. There was a feeling that the worst was yet to come and I was right. Literally, the house we left behind last year was shot-up in a shooting-up around the 4th of July. Bullet holes through what was my front door. High grade reckless stupidity. We could not have acted sooner to relocate. I was the last one of my multigenerational Gravois Park family, still there. We waited until the bitter end to GET OUT, and it is the best decision my wife and I have made in a very long time.

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