I thought I would look into greater depth regarding the former Bircher Boulevard, which while still preserved as a highway exit off Interstate 70, has largely been destroyed. I looked at the houses on the south side of the former boulevard back in April of 2019, and I can only imagine what happened to the property values and quality of life of the houses and people who called the area home in the Penrose neighborhood.
The area remained largely rural well into the Twentieth Century, as can be seen above in this photograph where North Kingshighway split into Northwest and Northeast branches (how many people alive to remember that?). I suspect World War II and the construction of the great ordnance plant helped to finally fill in this corner of the city, as well as the post-war housing crunch. Interestingly, to the north Walnut Park looks complete.
But just look at the disruption of the interstate’s construction, shown below at Union Boulevard. It must have been psychologically devastating. I remember a woman who grew up in Old North telling me that even if a family’s house was not demolished for the interstate, many people chose to move anyway, seeing it as the “writing on the wall” for the neighborhood.
This house sits vacant in Penrose Park, a relic of disinvestment that came with the interstates. I would love to know its story.
Likewise, architectural masterpieces such as the house below were lost at the southeast corner of the intersection of what is now Interstate 70 and West Florissant Avenue, a victim of the slash through the heart of the city.