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Dead End: 1940

Dead End: 1940

May 1940. "Street in oldest part of town which is being torn down. St. Louis, Missouri." View full size. 35mm nitrate negative by John Vachon for the FSA.


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Basilica of St. Louis

This area was run down a bit compared to other parts of the city. The only place here that survived Urban Renewal is the Basilica of St. Louis.

I like history and old architecture and I also like the Arch.

The View Today

The following link to MSN Maps shows what the approximate area looks like today, or so I think.

I did an online search for the little amount of text I can see in the photograph: "Mississippi Valley Paper Company" and "Brockmeier & Co." This web page contains the line "Brockmeier, Edwin Brockmeier & Co., Grain and Flour 623 N. Second st." That does appear to be a "623" printed on the Brockmeier sign.


Knew a Streets and San guy here in Chicago. He said when they hit those pavers with the jackhammer, it would bounce right off, had to pry them out. These buildings give me feeling like they've been "thoroughly gone through". 2x4's for sale!

Urban Renewal

Jess, that's urban renewal for you. I live in an old river town myself (Joliet, IL) in which a four-block stretch of 19th century commercial buildings (on the city's oldest street, along the riverfront) were torn down in the 1970s to make way for underused park land. Now, of course, the city would love to have old building stock to be rehabbed so the downtown can be revitalized. And all those buildings are gone. Serves them right.

Paging Edward Hopper

Looks like his kind of a streetscape

If you told me

That this photo was from the 70's I would believe that, but the 40's wow. Not that I doubt you, I think of the 40's as prosperous and certainly not streets with such litter problems. I know is is condemned so probably more litter than normal. Not at all like the beautiful Technicolor pictures of that period.

Sci Fi

Looks like one of those scenes from the Twilight Zone where everyone has disappeared.

The Zone

Looks like one of those post-apocalyptic Twilight Zone sets ... Charles Bronson or Elizabeth Montgomery could appear at any moment.

St. Louis

Looks like the area downtown that was previously next to the riverfront. Buildings went up in the late 1700s and were torn down in the late 40's/1950s for the Arch-Riverfront Park, managed by the Park Service. Personally, I think it was a travesty--especially considering that since the Arch was constructed, nothing else has been added to the park. Visitors have to cross an Interstate access (6 lanes) on foot to access the Arch and park. A whole lot of history was lost to the past.

You can read more about the construction of the park here.

I should also add that almost all of downtown St. Louis was paved with these granite cobblestones, and then they were paved over starting in the 1950s. Now, as streets are torn up for repairs and/or new construction, many of these cobblestones are being taken to the dump. I've noticed lots of citizens "repurposing" them. Many are probably sold; they go for approx. $5 a stone locally.

Kind of spooky

Wow. It appears the opportunities for exploration on this street are nearly endless. Oh to have a few days to wander with a camera. It reminds of a film set. But look at those paving bricks! The man hours it took to brick that street, only to have it demolished. With the new industrial loft aesthetic they may be worth something today. If they weren't soaked in oil and chemicals of course.

St. Louis

Wow, do you have the tech details of that pic? I imagine it's fairly high aperture and considering how relatively straight the walls look all the way to the back (they flare just a little in the front) the photographer probably tilt-shifted his lens.

Was the whole neighbourhood torn down? It's a shame, look at that beautiful brickwork on the street.

[The camera was a 35mm Leica. - Dave]

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