Friday, March 9, 2012

The Ville #2

The Ville and Greater Ville, which I've compressed into just simply The Ville, was once the center of the African-American middle class in St. Louis.
I went back to the area last weekend to look around and check up on things; mostly nothing was different, though sadly many more buildings seem to have fallen vacant or worse since the time I visited two years ago.
I find the housing stock outside of Grand Blvd to be an interesting counterpoint to the Second Empire and Italianate so prevalent east of that major street.
I followed St. Louis Avenue, like last time, and I always get a kick out of the fact that the street is really a cobbling together of earlier streets of subdivisions that didn't match up.
So there are all of these strange curves where traffic engineers attempted to smooth out the dog legs in the street.
This burn-out is sadly too common of a feature in the area; while brick theft has come to The Ville, there obviously would be no motivation to burn a wooden house to harvest the bricks. Perhaps it was just a short circuit.
I caught this view of the skyscrapers downtown as I proceeded past a break in the street wall. The conclusion if obvious: why isn't land so close to downtown more valuable?


  1. The houses here look like those old structures in Amsterdam, where they are situated beside each other. Anyway, these houses look beautiful. I sure want to live here.

  2. The land is more valuable, to someone who views it as a perfect place to live. Imagine if someone opened a neighborhood coffee shop and bakery in the middle of this area. Most people are afraid to open businesses in lower income areas, but if you did, it would help the community. I'd open a coffee shop/bakery right in there and then the houses that are run down near my bakery would want to be fixed up, because their property values would go up. I'd also offer free coffee to on duty cops and in no time there would be safer streets. Residents would feel better about their community then. I'd start to use some of the profits from the bakery/coffee shop to fund a community park/play ground or even a community garden and soon, other businesses may want to jump in. It would be a very slow movement but this is how small areas start to develop into the popular areas. I'd say, that if there was enough investors and people and residents really interested, you could have the Ville completely turned over and nice looking within 2 years.


A Blog detailing the beauty of St. Louis architecture and the buildup of residue-or character-that accumulates over the course of time.