Where does the alley fall in the urban experience? What does it mean? Is the alley the behind the scenes star? Is the alley to the house like the bass/drums to the band? The screen writers and cinemetographers to the actors and directors? The less visible star of the property and neighborhood? I'm not sure, but one thing recently became quite apparent to me: the alley can be an active, functioning addition to your property and immediate neighborhood.
I recently witnessed what I would characterize as a fully functional alley. There were children playing, it was spic-n-span clean, it was an adult meeting place (mainly male). It was beautiful.
It was akin to the familiar alley scenes in King of the Hill:
Again, there were kids grinding out skateboard techniques and riding bikes, kids peaking over fences to search for potenital playmates. It was a thing of beauty.
The next neighborhood I live in will have an alley. I've not yet experienced this in St. Louis. The roll out cart cannot compare to the dual dumpsters for yard and house waste. I long to have an alley.
The neighborhoods we are looking at for a potential move are Tower Grove South, Tower Grove East and Shaw. The occupied homes in these neighborhoods are generally very presentable from the street. However, a quick trip through the alleys can be a very telling story of the owner's, occupant's and neighbor's lifestyle choices.
We recently fell hard for a home between Compton Heights and TGE. It was priced realistically and had a lot of potential. However, a drive through the alley revealed a rusted out, flat-tired Winnebago, a trashed hooptie Caddy and garbage beyond belief. This was not a positive, active space. There was bad karma here. I can't have that. You can either take the chance with lazy, unclean neighbors and try to clean up the alley to the best your ability. Or, you can choose to not move there. You are either part of the problem or the solution right?
Anyhow, I am reengized with the possibilities of St. Louis City living from my recent alley experience.