Monday, June 2, 2008
Follow up from my last post
Saturday night I was browsing the St. Louis Views section of the Mercantile Library collection at UMSL, and came across this aerial image of Downtown St. Louis pre-1940. The photo was actually a cover for a promotional brochure tempting readers to "Visit St. Louis - The City of a Thousand Sights". The photo shows the historic riverfront district prior to its clearance for the arch grounds (area shaded red). Hundreds of buildings on covering 36 blocks were demolished beginning in 1940. The same photo shows the few surviving riverfront warehouses (shaded orange) in the 1100 block of Leonor K. Sullivan that LCRA seems hell bent upon demolishing.
The same night I happened to catch the original 1960 version of Phycho. I could not help being amused by the large Victorian mansion up the hill from the Bates Motel portrayed as the stereotypical "scary house". This was not by accident, as the prevailing thought at that time was that these dark old Victorians were outdated and obsolete and that they should be cleared for new modern structures in the name of "progress". Victoran homes, like the one that SLU is poised to destroy at 3740 Lindell, are a rarity in Midtown now because hundreds of them were demolished for the Mill Creek Valley Urban Renewal Project.
Is it 1960 again on SLU's campus? No, if that were the case, SLU would not have recently contemplated "updating" (destroying) the almost mint condition Pius Library (not sure if this was or is going to be implemented). Arbitrary stylistic judgements have been made though on both fronts and could result in the loss of architectural history from two distinct periods of time.