U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Missouri > St. Louis
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 02-08-2016, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Mishawaka, Indiana
6,205 posts, read 8,352,813 times
Reputation: 4622

Advertisements

I was enroute to St. Louis for a quick business deal, I've never been to the city, let alone the state of Missouri before, so I was curious what my impressions of it would be. I study city data, statistics, and demographics relentlessly, so I am pretty well read up on the stats of St. Louis, but I wanted to actually see it up close, and today I had my chance. I'll share my brief experience and fist impressions here, I honestly wish I had more time to explore it, but time was short today.

My first impression was the road signs, letting me know I was nearing the city. I came from the east and came in on I-55. My first impression was, "St Louis 6", 6 miles away and it's still mostly woods and fields on the Illinois side. So I gathered that the St. Louis metro has not expanded much on the Illinois side directly east of the city, eventually I rounded a hill and all at once the city's skyline and massive Gateway Arch came into view. The city skyline actually looked better in person than it does from pictures. In pictures the buildings mostly look short to medium height and stocky, their character doesn't stand out as much in pictures, overall it didn't look too impressive from the pictures. But from the road, crossing over the bridge St. Louis looked pretty impressive. The buildings taller than I'd though, and with a lot more features than I had realized. I started to develop a feeling of a unique culture in this city. It may be a river city, but it is very different from all the other river cities, like Minneapolis, Memphis, New Orleans, etc. The city looked massive on the Missouri side, I couldn't see an end to where the streets and buildings were, whereas on the Illinois side there was just East St. Louis and then fields and woods. The Missouri side of the metro looked extremely well developed, as if this was one of our older cities and much of its historic buildings had been preserved.

I soon noticed the new and old along the riverfront. Downtown St. Louis looked like a healthy mix of new and old buildings, just to the south looked like an area of heavy industry and possibly river port use. Some of the buildings looked quite large, and quite empty. The sports arena complexes looked very clean and modern.

I took a drive through downtown St. Louis and was very impressed with it. I will admit I only went down a few streets, but one of the cons I noticed about the city, or at least the sections I traversed, was that there were very few local store fronts, eateries, bars, clubs, shops, etc. For the most part it looked to be banking offices, insurance companies, large corporations, and sterile office buildings and government buildings. Foot traffic was light, but then again it was 1PM on a Monday afternoon. I feel like I must have missed the shopping district of downtown, or the arts district. I'm sure the city has it, I just didn't find it on my brief drive through downtown. The city did look remarkably clean though, most buildings were inhabited, the streets and sidewalks clear of clutter and not crumbling apart.

The streets and how they veered right and left and curved at various stages gave me the impression that many of the roads were designed before cars. It feels much older than some cities, confusing road patterns to me anyway are a sign of a more historic city.

Near the south side of downtown along the river front there were a string of very beautiful old charactered looking buildings, many of them with brewery signs on the front. I loved the rustic setting and environment. I then drove north through the city again and came along something called "Old St. Louis Riverfront" I think it was? I might be a little off. However, that section of the city looked EXTREMELY antiquated, almost preserved from the 19th century. The roads were brick, and not brick roads for ca.r...they looked and felt like the original brick roads that were used for horse and carriage. The roads were horrible to drive on, but I believe that area was more or less meant for walking. At any rate, I loved that area and really hope to visit again soon and visit it on foot!

Next I traveled a little north on the freeway, leaving downtown. I came across another very old looking section of the city. It looked like it used to be one of the nicer areas of the city, but was long past its heyday. I was on St. Louis Ave. and University St. for the majority of this exploration, if any of you locals know where that is. What really stuck me here was the red brick...almost every building was built in red brick, and if it wasn't red brick, it was white brick. Very few wooden homes. The SECOND thing that struck me was the abject poverty and decay of the local area. Many of the buildings were abandoned, broken windows, holes in the walls, several buildings were actually crumbling down to the foundation. I saw a lot of "DO NOT ENTER" signs on boards posted up over closed doorways. Trash littered almost every street, there was a serious sadness to the area. But what else I noticed was the area seemed to almost be split in some spots. There was a stretch of St. Louis Ave. with large foreboding two story brick houses, that all looked to be in relatively good shape, but they were bordered on the north side by block after block of buildings that looked as if they had just been hit by an airstrike.

If anyone has any insight on what this area is called and some of the history behind it I'd be curious to know.

All and all St. Louis struck me as a very distinctive city in the midwest, it feels older than Indianapoils, older than Columbus, Des Moines, Louisville, etc. The style of buildings and the density of the neighborhoods is something rare in midwestern cities. The city also struck me as a pretty divided place. From the crumbling foundations of the near northside neighborhood I was exploring, I could see the pristine looking skyline of downtown St Louis, which looked like a gem and a haven for success. I know all cities have their bad sides, but something about St. Louis seemed to be more sinister, I know it routinely ranks as one of the higher cities for murders and violent crime.

I'd really love to come back and be able to spend a full day or two really exploring the city on foot. I'd like to hit the basic tourist attractions, and the older and lesser known sections of the city as well. My first impression is not the most informed, I'll admit that, but it has seriously piqued my curiosity on St. Louis, I vow to return and explore more of it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 02-08-2016, 07:53 PM
 
1,015 posts, read 1,286,601 times
Reputation: 978
Downtown is not very big for a metro area the size of St. Louis. Good historic areas to explore are Soulard on the southside and Midtown (St. Louis University) and the Central West End and University City (Washington University).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-08-2016, 11:55 PM
 
Location: Chicago
2,357 posts, read 2,009,806 times
Reputation: 2181
I'll add some of my thoughts:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdAilment View Post
My first impression was the road signs, letting me know I was nearing the city. I came from the east and came in on I-55. My first impression was, "St Louis 6", 6 miles away and it's still mostly woods and fields on the Illinois side. So I gathered that the St. Louis metro has not expanded much on the Illinois side directly east of the city, eventually I rounded a hill and all at once the city's skyline and massive Gateway Arch came into view.
It hasn't. The Metro East is about 1/4, or a little less, of metro St. Louis' population, but the population centers are sprawled further apart than the towns on the Missouri side. You passed close to some nice suburbs, like Edwardsville, but you would have had to of exited 55 in order to see them. Most of the population centers aren't visible from 55.

Quote:
The city skyline actually looked better in person than it does from pictures. In pictures the buildings mostly look short to medium height and stocky, their character doesn't stand out as much in pictures, overall it didn't look too impressive from the pictures. But from the road, crossing over the bridge St. Louis looked pretty impressive.
Most photos try to show the prominence of the Arch, but in doing so they neglect to properly feature the buildings that St. Louis does have.

Quote:
I couldn't see an end to where the streets and buildings were, whereas on the Illinois side there was just East St. Louis and then fields and woods. The Missouri side of the metro looked extremely well developed, as if this was one of our older cities and much of its historic buildings had been preserved.
The fields and woods don't last for very long. You'll find the Metro East on top of the hills and bluffs on the Illinois side. Quite a lot of those fields near the river are actually flood plains.

As St. Louis itself, a lot of the city has actually been gutted due to urban renewal

Quote:
Some of the buildings looked quite large, and quite empty.
Many are, sadly.

Quote:
I will admit I only went down a few streets, but one of the cons I noticed about the city, or at least the sections I traversed, was that there were very few local store fronts, eateries, bars, clubs, shops, etc. For the most part it looked to be banking offices, insurance companies, large corporations, and sterile office buildings and government buildings. Foot traffic was light, but then again it was 1PM on a Monday afternoon. I feel like I must have missed the shopping district of downtown, or the arts district. I'm sure the city has it, I just didn't find it on my brief drive through downtown.
Downtown is certainly better than it used to be, but it has a long way to go. Foot traffic is typically light, and you didn't miss the shopping or arts district downtown because there is frankly no real downtown shopping in St. Louis, at least not like in other cities, and the city's arts district is further west, away from downtown.

Quote:
The streets and how they veered right and left and curved at various stages gave me the impression that many of the roads were designed before cars. It feels much older than some cities, confusing road patterns to me anyway are a sign of a more historic city.
Accurate, but St. Louis does have a pretty good grid, for what it's worth. It gets more squared off when you had away from the river.

Quote:
Next I traveled a little north on the freeway, leaving downtown. I came across another very old looking section of the city. It looked like it used to be one of the nicer areas of the city, but was long past its heyday.
This can sadly describe a lot of North St. Louis.

Quote:
All and all St. Louis struck me as a very distinctive city in the midwest, it feels older than Indianapoils, older than Columbus, Des Moines, Louisville, etc.
St. Louis boomed, and was big, when many of those cities were tiny, so you're correct.

Quote:
I know all cities have their bad sides, but something about St. Louis seemed to be more sinister, I know it routinely ranks as one of the higher cities for murders and violent crime.
St. Louis has had the highest murder rate of large cities in the nation for the last 2 years, and the divide in the city is astonishing. St. Louis has lost an ever so slightly higher percentage of its peak population than Detroit, although Detroit will probably pull ahead soon enough. St. Louis' population loss has slowed to a trickle, thankfully.

Quote:
I'd really love to come back and be able to spend a full day or two really exploring the city on foot. I'd like to hit the basic tourist attractions, and the older and lesser known sections of the city as well. My first impression is not the most informed, I'll admit that, but it has seriously piqued my curiosity on St. Louis, I vow to return and explore more of it.
St. Louis isn't as pedestrian friendly as other cities, but there are walkable neighborhoods, and it's pretty easy to get around by car in. I think you'll find plenty of gems that you'll enjoy just based on what you had to say. As the above poster mentioned, head over to the Central West End and explore Forest Park. The park is not to be missed!

If you need any suggestions in the future, be sure to make a post.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-09-2016, 07:45 AM
 
Location: St. Louis
1,221 posts, read 2,164,363 times
Reputation: 763
Fair and (mostly) accurate impressions. The busiest area of downtown is the Washington Avenue Loft District, which is a little bit north and west from where I gather you were exploring. Next time you'll have to venture south to Soulard and Lafayette Square and west to the Central West End. These are much nicer areas with truly stunning, world-class architecture and are a lot less sinister than the north side. ("Sinister" is actually a really good descriptive term for most of North St. Louis).
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-09-2016, 07:58 AM
 
3,529 posts, read 2,172,235 times
Reputation: 2636
If you come back, do the architectural walking tour on Saturday morning.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-09-2016, 11:47 AM
 
Location: Pevely, MO
19 posts, read 28,400 times
Reputation: 18
I would agree with other posters that this is a pretty fair assessment. The city is very old, and very distinct. Also each neighborhood is very different and has its own distinct feel. I think you made a solid move by checking out old north. It really explains STL in a nutshell. There's so much potential, but no one has really cracked the code of how to unleash the full potential of the city and make it work for everyone. Everyone here can see the fundamentals of a great city exist, it's just been tough to get everything aligned to take advantage of those fundamentals.

Also, your assessment that the city is divided is very true. You would have that impression even more so if you saw the south side with blocks and blocks of pristine brick row houses.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-09-2016, 12:17 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
1,221 posts, read 2,164,363 times
Reputation: 763
Also, the large, foreboding houses you saw on St. Louis Avenue are what's left of the St. Louis Place neighborhood. At one time it was one of most well-to-do areas of the city, but it's almost completely gone today. A lot of that had to do with being within a mile of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe projects from what I gather. Here's some great info with pictures: St. Louis City Talk: St. Louis Place Neighborhood.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-09-2016, 12:37 PM
 
Location: Mishawaka, Indiana
6,205 posts, read 8,352,813 times
Reputation: 4622
Quote:
Originally Posted by jake_w1389 View Post
I would agree with other posters that this is a pretty fair assessment. The city is very old, and very distinct. Also each neighborhood is very different and has its own distinct feel. I think you made a solid move by checking out old north. It really explains STL in a nutshell. There's so much potential, but no one has really cracked the code of how to unleash the full potential of the city and make it work for everyone. Everyone here can see the fundamentals of a great city exist, it's just been tough to get everything aligned to take advantage of those fundamentals.

Also, your assessment that the city is divided is very true. You would have that impression even more so if you saw the south side with blocks and blocks of pristine brick row houses.
So am I to understand that the south side is the wealthier and more up kept side? I've been very curious to see the dense old brick row houses, sights like those are EXTREMELY rare in the Midwest, Chicago only has a handful of them, and every other Midwest city may have rowhouses here or there, but they've been built within the last 25 years and are more bland looking.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-09-2016, 12:39 PM
 
Location: Mishawaka, Indiana
6,205 posts, read 8,352,813 times
Reputation: 4622
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawn10am View Post
Also, the large, foreboding houses you saw on St. Louis Avenue are what's left of the St. Louis Place neighborhood. At one time it was one of most well-to-do areas of the city, but it's almost completely gone today. A lot of that had to do with being within a mile of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe projects from what I gather. Here's some great info with pictures: St. Louis City Talk: St. Louis Place Neighborhood.
Thank you! I was very curious about the north side of St. Louis, the area had an ominous feel to it. I almost feel like that television show, "Life After People" may have done some shooting there. I know they said they chose sections of Gary Indiana and Detroit Michigan to show what happens to buildings after decades of neglect. It's very sad, but the urban decay of that area must be a fascinating story. Thank you for the link.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-09-2016, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
5,221 posts, read 5,573,508 times
Reputation: 3800
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawn10am View Post
Also, the large, foreboding houses you saw on St. Louis Avenue are what's left of the St. Louis Place neighborhood. At one time it was one of most well-to-do areas of the city, but it's almost completely gone today. A lot of that had to do with being within a mile of the infamous Pruitt-Igoe projects from what I gather. Here's some great info with pictures: St. Louis City Talk: St. Louis Place Neighborhood.
Thanks for sharing dawn. This is one of those websites that showcases a portion of St. Louis that leaves me scratching my head asking why did they let this go. As a boomerang St. Louis resident, I want to be part of the change without throwing my money away. Most cities wouldn't have this type of potential just sitting there.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Options
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2016 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Missouri > St. Louis
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2018, Advameg, Inc.

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top