Home > Archives > City Lights >
St. Louis Blooms
Photo: Melissa Lien
St. Louis is an urban renewal case study in progress. Known as the “Gateway to the West,” St Louis anchors the eastern side of the state of Missouri. Symbolized by the 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch, the city was a center of manufacturing thanks to its location on the Mississippi River.

However, during the latter half of the 20th Century, the city went into a decline, losing more than half of its residents. When the new millennium dawned, the St. Louis population had just a little more than 348,000 as compared with more than 856,800 citizens in 1950. Factories closed, and deteriorating buildings soon dotted the once thriving downtown.

In the past five years, the population has inched up to 352,600. Changes are taking place. While on a visit last summer, I talked with the owner of a small restaurant as I enjoyed freshly prepared food. She talked with pride about her family’s new business venture and shared her enthusiasm for their new (and affordable!) condo just a few blocks away. They were among the first wave of urban pioneers, those who were committed to renewing the vitality of St. Louis.

Her sunny outlook about the future was based on a number of factors such as a new downtown stadium, refurbishment of historic buildings such as the old Post Office building, and restoration strategies that have worked in other cities, including extensive use of federal and state tax credits for rehabilitation of older buildings.

Downtown Renewal

An article in the May 11 issue of USA Today profiled the remarkable restoration taking place in St. Louis. After 50 years of migration to the suburbs and a population exodus due to racial tensions, more young professionals have started moving downtown. According to the article, W. Thomas Reeves, executive director of Downtown Now, “More than $3.5 billion has been poured into the area.” By 2008, nearly 8,000 apartments and condos will be built, along with an increase in new hotels, office towers, restaurants, and services. Several neighborhoods are starting renewal projects, with one being renamed as part of the effort to reverse its reputation as a gritty, violent part of town. Even the international airport has started a $1 billion expansion.

Respond to this article

Center for Metropolitan Ministries. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

SiteMap. Powered by SimpleUpdates.com © 2002-2016. User Login / Customize.