ecology of absence
Demolition, 19th and Farragut
LOCATION: Intersection of 19th & Farragut Streets; Hyde Park; Saint Louis, Missouri
DATES OF CONSTRUCTION: 1880's - 1900's
Posted March 6, 2004
The activity that you see in these two photos is only a routine occurrence. You probably are not even alarmed. You surely are not surprised. Yet many buildings disappear every year in Saint Louis, only to give way to empty lots or, at best, construction of lower density and poorer quality of materials. I do not know why these two buildings have been demolished.
Some day, this corner in Hyde Park will look very different. These buildings will be replaced by new homes, built of materials like vinyl that weather poorly, produce toxins during production, and generally do not last very long. The people who will live in these homes may never know what the neighborhood was like in early 2004, when this quiet neighborhood saw the disappearance of these two buildings. Sadly, this is not an uncommon occurence in Hyde Park and the rest of the north part of the city.
The uncertainty remains: Will the speculators find these neighborhoods?
There is a predictable pattern of urban "renewal" in this city:
1. Widespead blighting, followed by landbanking (city government, nonprofit housing corporations or private companies acquire large groups of property).
2. Demolition, first of obviously unsound buildings then of anything in landbanks. (See the current crisis in the McRee Town neighborhood in south city.)
3. Speculator discovery of remaining "historic" structures.
4. Displacement of renters by homeowners.
5. Displacement of longtime homeowners by speculators and affluent rehabbers.
6. Construction of low-density buildings on abandoned lots. (Such as the planned replacement of the Lafayette Square Community Garden on Park Avenue.)
7. Construction of new neighborhood identity.
Will Hyde Park take this course in the next ten years? This demolition may be a routine blunder, or a sign of something more threatening to the mostly African-American, working people who call the neighborhood their home.
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