The stretch of South Grand Boulevard between Arsenal and Utah was named one of the country's "Great Places in America" by the American Planning Association.
It's always good to get recogintion on the national level for things every St. Louisan knows. Our city can compete with the best and we are a hidden treasure.
Here's a list of the winners including streets, neighborhoods and public places that represent the gold standard of thoughtful and deliberate planning:
- Heart of Missoula, Missoula, Montana
- Over the Rhine, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Seward, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Peal, San Antonio, Texas
- Uptown Greenwood, Greenwood, North Carolina
- Congress Street, Tucson, Arizona
- Lincoln Avenue and Giddings Plaza, Chicago, Illinois
- Mainstreet, Waterloo, New York
- Park Lane, Kirkland, Washington
- South Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, Missouri
- County Home Complex, Pitt County, North Carolina
- Market Square, Knoxville, Tennessee
- Mill Creek Linear Park, Bakersfield, California
- Rosa Park Circle, Grand Rapids, Michigan
- San Angelo Concho River Walk, San Angelo, Texas
Here's a short video from the APA showing snippets of each winner, South Grand used Ritz Park as the visual:
The reason we got this designation was due to the lane reduction, sidewalk widening, environmental easing in the form of runoff management/landscaping and the remaking of Ritz Park. It really does look nice.
But, the thing that makes this stretch of Grand a great place is that it is functional. It serves people who live here over just people who visit here. Residents benefit from this street. It is walkable in every way. You can enter businesses from the front, the alley and side streets.
There is much more here than just restaurants, but those that are here aren't just high-end regional draws, they serve the neighborhoods surrounding Grand with with excellent, affordable food (in most cases).
Tourists and visitor from the burbs feel welcome here which is great. But, residents see neighbors here too. It's a place that serves all.
Our family optometrist is here. If you haven't used locally owned Lucas Optometry, then you are missing the boat. This place is great and the people that have worked here for years are familiar, like warm acquaintances. I get into a conversation about fishing in Willmore Park and kids going to school in the city and urban issues. It's fun.
There is a legitimate international market, Jay International, that has everything you can't get at the supermarkets. It is real, priced right and serves the immigrant population well.
Ice cream is a reward for kids. The Tower Grove Creamery is manned by many local kids and owners that talk to you and care.
You can mail a package at the post office, you can fill up your tank at a cool looking gas station, you can get your hair cut fancy or barber shop style. You can find a home away from home workspace at the Gelateria, you can bank here, you can get Xmas trees here.
It is a functioning, neighborhood corridor and street that serves people with diversity. It is worthy of all praises and it looks better than ever.
It truly is a great city street. We need to focus on smart design and development so more of these corridors can pop up in other parts of the city where lots of people live, including Morgan Ford, Martin Luther King, St. Louis Avenue, Page, Chippewa, Broadway you name it.