Wacky Urban Renewal Plan for St. Louis Place

I found a book at the Central Library that detailed the suburbanization of St. Louis Place proposed by Francis Podrom in his St. Louis Place Renewal Plan from the 1970’s (the library is not sure of its date of publication) that sought to remove the blight rapidly forming in the aging neighborhood. It was never implemented. Take a look at the hand-colored map above; what is shocking is how much of the neighborhood was intact in the 1970’s, considering how much has now been lost around the eponymous park. Below, Podrom proposes removing alleys (and most people’s backyards) and replacing them with interior park space, deeming St. Louis Place park obsolete. Red buildings (subconsciously alluding to red lining?) are buildings to be demolished. It is interesting to note that the author considers the North South Distributor (755) a fait accompli, though it thankfully was never built through the North Side. Also, on another page, the report condemns such “obsolete” building such as the grand old funeral home on St. Louis Avenue, long viewed by many as one of the neighborhood’s most beautiful landmarks. Thankfully tastes have changed from the 1970’s.

Communal space, as was present in abundance at failed public housing projects such as Pruitt-Igoe, have proven to be failures; no one takes a sense of ownership, and failing government funding, the communal spaces soon fall into disrepair, are seized by criminal elements and become just as bad as their predecessors’, the alleys’, supposed depravity.

The plan clearly did not predict the widespread demolition of much of the neighborhood, or the resulting vacancy that now predominates.

But hey, crack open a beer and enjoy your typical interior park!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. ppagano says:

    As a city planner, I’ll give this a few points for weirdness…and take away 9,000,000 points for going the making-it-more-like-the-suburbs-will-solve-all-the-problems route, although it’s pretty par for the course as far as 1970’s (or 50’s, or 60’s, or 80’s) St. Louis “planning” goes.

    That said, good find. Agree or disagree, differing ideas can be pretty interesting.

  2. dempsterholland@gmail.com says:

    thank god this plan never went through.
    otherwise, we would have never had de-
    caying buildings, vacent lots, cornfields
    and an abandonded neighborhood

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