Botanical Heights, Gentrification, Urban Clearance and Modern Development-5 Part Series

I’m working on several posts, slowly but surely. I’ve been on limited St. Louis City Talk time these days; but have been building toward what will become my first multi-post series on a single topic: gentrification.

I’ve written thousands of words on gentrification, but haven’t been satisfied enough to post any of it. It was what I needed to do to come to terms with the applicability of modern St. Louis as the backdrop.

A little bit of kismet and happenstance has prompted me to get real and just do it.

I’ll use the Botanical Heights Neighborhood as my background for the topic. I can’t think a more apropos part of town to use as the backdrop for this topic.

The series will have several posts. If everything works out, I’ll break it down like this:

  1. The definition of gentrification through a STL lens. This post will include an introduction to modern Botanical Heights….the setup.

  2. Large scale urban clearance in the late 20th Century - Botanical Heights east of Thurman. This post has been evolving in a very organic way, and will include an interview with someone who grew up McRee Town, moved to Florida and came across my website while looking back at his time in St. Louis.

  3. Modern infill and redevelopment in the early 21st Century - Botanical Heights west of Thurman. This one will include the perspective of UIC, the largest developer in this part of the neighborhood.

  4. My personal thoughts on gentrification with a low-demand, shrinking city like STL (vs. a high-demand TX/CA/NY city) as the lens. This one will use an UMSL professor’s commentary/research as the backdrop, exploring the applicability of gentrification to STL in my time living here.

  5. Is my neighborhood undergoing gentrification? Bringing it all back home just like Bob Dylan, this one will include an honest look at my neighborhood including some personal experiences that have informed my views on neighborhoods changing over the years. I will include an interview with a long time resident of my neighborhood to get his thoughts on whether I’m living in a place that is undergoing gentrification or gentrified. A look back to 1980’s Fox Park was a real eye opener for me and hope to boil down the essence of his experience to share the trajectory these old neighborhood were on over the last 40-50 years.

Stick with me folks, I work on my free time and not for gain/pay. This will take some time, but it’s a topic that is top of my mind, and I want to leave something for my kids to read to let them know these are important considerations for the future American city. One of my kids was working on a project related to gentrification at the time of my doing my photos of Botanical Heights; so we talked. Brooklyn, NY was the backdrop for her lesson. I learned a lot.

Anyhow, I hope to be a more learned, sensitive and whole citizen after my explorations of these topics.

WARNING: these posts require three separate interviews, and take me forever to get right. This will take time and will not be published one by one within a week.

Cheers.