What's In A Picture?

I am so obsessed with certain neighborhoods of St. Louis, I know so much useless trivia and have so many silly stories in my head that have a strong sense of place associated with them.

I recently took a photo of some speed humps being installed on California Avenue between Russell and Shenandoah in the Fox Park Neighborhood. I was giddy. These are the things an uber-urban-nerd gets excited about.

2100 Block of California Avenue - Fox Park - St. Louis

2100 Block of California Avenue - Fox Park - St. Louis

The selfish/no-dignity driving that occurs on this cut-through from Russell to Gravois has been abused for years. The problem was elevated due to a popular restaurant, Lona’s Lil Eats, who set up shop at California and Accomac. A wonderful addition to the neighborhood, it is great to have the vibrancy of people visiting and enjoying our neighborhood. They park on the streets since there is no parking lot (the best of city living). The constant in and out of cars and pedestrian uptick shone a light on the asshats who drive WAY too fast in city neighborhoods. It’s all about them and they don’t give a F about anybody else. Pedestrians are killed routinely by these reckless, selfish drivers.

When we saw the initial construction for the speed humps we new this was going to solve a lot of problems. We park off an alley between the new traffic calming devices. Looking over dumpsters and parked cars on the cross street was dangerous when people were flying through. Now they have to slow and it is much safer for everyone. These things are highly effective.

I looked at the photo and felt good about several things that made me think this is a neighborhood trending in a good direction.

What’s in a picture?

Not just the speed humps, but someone in a multi-family planted a new-ish street tree. Believe it or not, this is a sign of a healthy neighborhood. Choose your favorite and worst street in St. Louis. Notice the difference in trees. Healthy neighborhoods are shaded. Abandoned neighborhoods have no trees.

See that multi-family residence in the background to the left? I see it every time I take out the garbage or recycling. It is just one of Fox Park’s brick beauties, but it has a special background.

William B. Ittner, one of the city’s most recognized architects, came from a family who owned Ittner Brothers Brick Company, with a location at the corner of California Avenue and Sidney Street back in the 1870’s. They made dry press common, face and ornamental brick and masonry finishes. Ittner cut his teeth working on some beautiful small and larger homes, one right here on California.

Perhaps the most interesting building from Ittner's early work is at 2137-39 California, just a few blocks from the Ittner family brickyards. Constructed in 1893 for an estimated $7,000, the two-story brick flats have a timeless sophistication which still appears somewhat avant-garde. - Carolyn Hewes Toft, Former Executive Director, Landmarks Association of St. Louis, Inc.

Anyway, a simple snapshot of my daily life from a humble alley view is a window into the beauty and joy that a city like St. Louis can bring.

I hope we get those white reflective stripes on the speed humps, in addition to the signs, to warn drivers of their location…people are already slowing down.

***UPDATE 03/22/19 the white stripes were completed!***