Sunday, May 21, 2017

Charleville Brewing Company Opens First St. Louis Location

Yeah, we are the Brick City. We are also becoming the Beer City of the Midwest. The history is certainly there, but the influx of microbreweries since Schlafly broke the mold in 1991 has been amazing to witness.

1991, the year STL malt broke!

Usually we look back at our past and pine for the good old days (World's Fair and Riverboats, I'm looking at you). Fact is, when it comes to beer, the past was indeed great...but the present and future is better. 

St. Louis' beer scene is on the rise and getting more and more diverse. I thought we could only sustain maybe five breweries in St. Louis (a city of ~310,000). Boy was I wrong. 

The latest trend is small town Missouri breweries opening locations in St. Louis...they want to join the scene and man, are they welcome.

First, 2nd Shift Brewery moved it's operations from New Haven, Missouri to an industrial section of the Hill Neighborhood at 1601 Sublette Avenue...adding a know, place making in a spot you usually wouldn't visit.

"We're so excited to be located on the Hill," 2nd Shift co-owner Libby Crider said in a release. "Not only to be able to provide beer more locally to St. Louis, but also to be part of this amazing neighborhood."
Welcome, welcome, welcome 2nd Shift. I love off the beaten path locations, and you've done a great job with your space and of course the beer.

Then, yesterday I was driving home after visiting the new Kiener Plaza and noticed Charleville Brewing was open.

They are the newest brewery to open a St. Louis location from their winery/brewery in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri.

Per the bartender,  the rehabbed building was a former truck parts manufacturing facility. The nice one-story building is at 2101 Chouteau Avenue right across the street from Lafayette Square in the Downtown West Neighborhood. The pulley's and beams are still visible providing a nod to the past.


So we stopped in for a quick sample and will be back Fo-Chouteau. 

I'm not here to rank beers or talk up one brewery vs. the other, I'll leave that to the experts. To me, all St. Louis breweries add to our city vibe and Charleville is a welcome addition.

I will say one thing, though: I'm a pilsner fan and their offering, way up there. I'll leave it at that.

“The whole idea is to connect with the (St. Louis) community,” says Tait Russell, director of operations for Charleville...

For the new brewery and restaurant, Charleville is partnering with Paul and Wendy Hamilton, owners of Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Vin de Set, PW Pizza and 21st Street Brewers Bar.

Russell says Charleville reached out to the Hamiltons about the new brewery's restaurant operation while still searching for a location. During that discussion, Russell says, Paul Hamilton mentioned that he had recently bought the building at 2101 Chouteau, directly across South 21st Street from the complex housing Vin de Set, PW Pizza and 21 Street Brewers Bar.
They did a fantastic job with the building and interior space...but man, the pilsner was the star. There are 14 taps to choose from.
The large windows along Chouteau really make a bright, vibrant space.
There is a garage door that opens up to provide an al fresco experience leading to a small outdoor patio. 
There is also an event space and of course the brewing areas.

There are nice nods to our wonderful city.
Not into beer? How about some house made root beer and the food looks dynamite. 

Welcome, welcome, welcome Charleville Brewing! That pilsner should be in cans/bottles for the summer!

Edit: they have the pilsner in cans, it's called Long White Cloud. Proof:
Cheers, St. Louis!

Infrastructure Updates - Wells Drive In Forest Park

Forest Park continues to assert itself as the premier park in the region. Of St. Louis' 108 parks, and Tower Grove Park, it is the crown jewel. Largely due to the successful public/private partnership that is Forest Park Forever; their motto:

"We are stewards of a treasure"
Forest Park Forever is a private nonprofit conservancy that partners with the City of St. Louis to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park. 
Supported by our generous members, donors and volunteers, we ensure that Forest Park is beautiful and welcoming — now and forever. 
Founded in 1986, Forest Park Forever is a private nonprofit conservancy that works in partnership with the City of St. Louis and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry to restore, maintain and sustain Forest Park as one of America’s greatest urban public parks. 
Along with the City of St. Louis, Forest Park Forever raised $100 million between 1995 and 2003 and dramatically restored many landmark destinations in Forest Park, including the Emerson Grand Basin, the Boathouse and the Jewel Box. (source
The investment and transformation of this park has been nothing short of stunning. This park was in much need of upgrades and leadership...a master plan. 

As the years have passed, we've seen high profile projects transform the park including the Grand Basin at the foot of Art Hill, the meandering creeks, the golf courses, the Spanish Pavilion, the way finding, the landscape...all fantastic upgrades.

The results have exceeded by expectations on nearly every level. 

The most recent upgrades I witnessed are not as sexy as the previously mentioned upgrades; some are just infrastructure investments that make the park more useable by all.

And, yes, lots of people walk and bike to the park, but many also drive.  Many of the roads nearest the Zoo were in dire need of repair.

The road sections being upgraded run from Skinker Boulevard nearest Oakland/I-64 along and through Kennedy Forest to the two Zoo paid parking lots, one at Tamm Avenue, the other at the Living World. These are high profile sections for tourists and Zoo visitors...first impressions are important, and these upgrades will certainly please.
map image from Forest Park Forever

And in typical fashion, the upgrades exceeded my expectations.

On-street parking clearly demarcated for parallel parking along roads, bump-outs to define parking areas, new sidewalks, gorgeous roundabouts, cross walks and speed humps.

Yes, I said gorgeous cross walks and speed humps. I mean it and have provided a few words on each and a couple photos to help explain.

And when the (I believe) black gum trees that were planted in the bump outs mature, and the other landscapes are planted, I know this will be a massive, value-added upgrade.

I'm glad to see some of the less-prominent upgrades on the park being made. Infrastructure and drainage are not fun, but man are they important.

Let this park nerd expand a bit on my excitement...

The sidewalks are wide enough to accommodate the many visitors unloading strollers, wagons, walkers and wheel chairs with enough room to allow passage by pedestrians walking and jogging on the sidewalks.

There are (unfinished) rain collection areas in several spots. These will help break up the street, provide interest and slow down driver speeds.
A roundabout helps efficiently funnel traffic toward the Zoo and Tamm Avenue. The landscaping is incomplete, but I trust will be eye catching and sustainable.

The signage is bright and prominent in favor of the pedestrian.
The crosswalks are beautiful with multiple materials including concrete, cobblestones and painted surfaces. This is eye catching and slows driver speeds.  

There are bump outs to make crossing the street on foot/bike safer and shorter from sidewalk to sidewalk. The bump outs on each side are being planted with trees and other landscape.
At some of the longer stretches included elevated speed ramps or humps. These upgrades make driving through the park safer for passengers and pedestrians.  
I can't wait to see the upgrades on Government Drive and watch the landscape mature.

Well done Forest Park Forever and St. Louis!

Friday, May 12, 2017

How Did St. Louis Arrive at 79 Neighborhoods?

One of the questions I've been asked over the years is who named and plotted out the 79 neighborhoods of St. Louis.

Through a recent Twitter conversation with someone trying to understand how old the name of their neighborhood is, the topic is once again top of mind. 

You know, it would be kind of cool to have a born on date for neighborhoods in the current vernacular.

"Fox Park, Established 1885" something like catch my drift?

Well, I can't seem to keep my curiosity at bay for long, so I guess it's high time to dig into this one and try to get some answers.

Here are some of the questions that have been posed that I don't have answers for and hope to unearth:

What year did this map of 79 neighborhoods go into effect? 

Well, the colloquial yarn is that it was put in place during the Schoemehl era. Vincent Schoemehl was mayor for three consecutive terms from 1981 to 1993.

So the early 1980's is a likely starting point to hit the records and newspapers.

When the neighborhoods were mapped out, did they stay within Ward boundaries at the time?

This is a good question, as I find it ultimately frustrating when neighborhoods have multiple alderpersons.

When were the names of neighborhoods changed? 

The one most people are familiar with is McRee Town being changed to Botanical Heights. But there are others, like Cabanne becoming the West End.

If you've followed my writing on the subject, you will notice I choose to stick with the modern, accurate nomenclature and boundaries as defined by the city itself.  I don't use historic terms for neighborhoods, streets, etc.

I refuse to call I-64 "Route 40", I refuse to call Martin Luther King "Easton Avenue", I refuse to call Botanical Heights "McRee Town". I love the history there, and name change controversies are not lost on me. But, being a St. Louis nerd by choice and scientist by nature, it's good to know history, but it seems intellectually dishonest to dismiss the official modern names and go with the one that suits your political agenda or ideals. Accuracy at publishing is something I strive for.

This is not always easy to do. I still catch myself calling the Scottrade Center the Savvis Center and the Bernard F. Dickman bridge the PSB...alas, none of this means much in the big picture...people will do what they want and populism and folk language is quirky and charming.

Don't even get me started on pronunciations...

But names of our neighborhoods have certainly changed over the years. My goal is not to track down when the various parts of the city were incorporated or became residential vs. agricultural vs. European settlements vs. Native American land. 

I don't have that kind of time, so my goal will be to track down the story of the modern map. There are plenty of mysteries to solve in that small part of history to keep me busy.

The good news is, one of the best research librarians in town is on the case. In fact, she forwarded a St. Louis Post-Dispatch map from 1989 and this will be the start of my research. The other good news is, other curious souls are on the case as well. Hopefully we can collaborate on a decent story to share.

If you are reading this and have done your own research, or know the story first hand, please feel free to contact me. I'd love to hear from you.

Here's the St. Louis Post-Dispatch map from 1989:
Notice there are only 74 neighborhoods?

How'd we get to 79 in current times?

Walnut Park West was carved out of Walnut Park and Mark Twain, Gravois Park and Benton Park West were carved out of Dutchtown North, Kingsway East and West were carved out of Academy/Sherman and Cote Brilliant, Covenant Blu/Grand Center was part of Jeff Vanderlou, Hamilton Heights was part of Cabanne and Near North Riverfront used to be simply North Riverfront.

If you're following me, you've probably noticed some name and number changes as well:

1. Princeton Heights was called Kingshighway South
2. Southwest is now called Southwest Garden
3. Dutchtown South is now simply Dutchtown
4. Dutchtown North is now Benton Park West & Gravois Park
5. McKinley/Fox is now called McKinley Heights
6. North I-44 is now called Botanical Heights
7. Terry Park is now part of the Gate District
8. Lafayette Towne is now the Gate District
9. Central Business District is now called Downtown
10. St. Louis University Area is now called Kings Oak
11. Cabanne is now the West End
12. Academy/Sherman is now Academy and Kingsway West
13. Cote Brilliant is largely Kingsway East

Also, the borders of the neighborhoods have changed over time. For instance, the Hill has gained area on it's northern border pushing all the way to Manchester Avenue in current times.

I hope to check in periodically and update posts to keep you informed as I learn more, kind reader.

Now I just need to carve out some time to hit the St. Louis Room and microfiche at the Central Library.

More to come...