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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 4:21 PM
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How St. Louis’ History of Private Streets Led to a Gun-Brandishing Couple

This article is about a month old, but I think it's still relevant.

I personally hate private streets; I believe cities should be full of public spaces, streets included.

Thoughts?

From curbed.com:

How St. Louis’ History of Private Streets Led to a Gun-Brandishing Couple

A Black Lives Matter march through a gated community highlighted the decisions that divide the city.

By Alissa Walker@awalkerinLA Jun 29, 2020, 7:40pm EDT


The 1909 Edward A. Faust house, seen behind the gates of Portland Place in St. Louis’s Central West End neighborhood. Google Street View

If you were in St. Louis and wanted — hypothetically — to eat the rich, 1 Portland Place would be a good place to start.

The limestone-and-marble palazzo found at that address looms high above the hedge-fringed retaining walls lining Kingshighway, a major north-south thoroughfare where cars stream by at all hours of the day. But between the busy road and this street punctuated with opulent homes is an imposing stone entranceway with wrought-iron gates — one of many such structures St. Louis has built throughout its history to divide its communities.

Designed in 1909, the 18,000-square-foot mansion was a wedding present for Anna Busch, the daughter of beer magnate Adolphus Busch, whose name adorns the city’s ballpark. The mansion was purchased in 1988 by its current residents, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, personal-injury attorneys whose office is located in another mansion they own a 15-minute walk away. In a splashy St. Louis Magazine feature, the McCloskeys detail their “difficult” two-decade journey to restore 1 Portland Place’s marble staircases and damask silk walls — some of which required traveling to Italy to see the original Renaissance-era palaces that the home was modeled after.

The surrounding Central West End neighborhood is known for its lavish houses, well-groomed residents, and manicured landscaping. But on Sunday evening, the occupants of 1 Portland Place were pacing their front lawn in bare feet and mustard-stained shirts, brandishing firearms which they pointed at hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters streaming down the sidewalk.

The protesters weren’t there to see the McCloskeys, they were just cutting through Portland Place on the way to the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson who, on Friday, publicly read a list of names and addresses of constituents wanting to defund the police department. (Krewson owns a Central West End brownstone just a few blocks away.) But taking this street became a symbolic moment in itself as the protesters toppled the century-old roadblocks intended to keep St. Louis’ white ruling class separated from the rest of the city.

Although videos show protesters walking through an open gate which appears undamaged, Mark McCloskey told KMOV that protesters “smashed through the historic wrought iron gates of Portland Place, destroying them, rushed toward my home where my family was having dinner outside and put us in fear of our lives.”

“Private property, get out!” Mark McCloskey yelled at the protesters in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch video, emerging from between two-story white pillars and cradling an AR-15 assault rifle, as the crowd began a call-and-response: “Whose streets? Our streets!”

“It’s a public street, asshole.”

“We’re on the sidewalk!”

“This is all private property,” said Mark McCloskey to KMOV. “There are no public sidewalks or public streets. We were told that we would be killed, our home burned and our dog killed. We were all alone facing an angry mob.”


The 1904 World’s Fair turned nearby Forest Park into a destination, ensuring the status of Portland Place as one of the city’s premiere streets. Missouri Historical Society

Private streets remain a stubborn relic of St. Louis’ Gilded Age. Homeowners paid for the streets and sidewalks to be paved long before the surrounding arteries were maintained by the city. In doing so, they purportedly reserved the authority to decide who could use them, which, according to an 1895 story in the St. Louis Republic, was “a privilege, not a right.” Whether they still functionally or symbolically shut people out — one can easily enter Portland Place just around the corner from the gates — the ornate gates, guard towers, and black powder-coated signs denoting “private street” in gold-embossed serif type dot the St. Louis urban landscape as reminders of these restrictions.

A revitalized movement to limit access to St. Louis streets emerged during the 1970s and 1980s, when the population of the city dwindled to half of what it had been in 1950, largely because white families moved to the surrounding suburbs. By the time Mayor Vincent Schoemehl left office in the mid-1980s, 285 streets had been blocked or diverted, most by decidedly less ornamental concrete bollards known as “Schoemehl pots.” One program, entitled “Operation Safestreet,” was praised at the time for lowering crime rates, though the long-term benefits have been less clear. In recent years, advocates have been trying to undo the closures in an attempt to knit the city back together, but some residents want to keep their cul-de-sac streets, especially the ones concentrated in high-wealth, predominately white areas like the Central West End.

There’s yet another another street-level delineation that keeps the Central West End exclusive: Delmar Boulevard, the east-west artery just a few blocks to the north, creates a barrier known as the Delmar Divide that slices through the city. Historically, neighborhoods north of Delmar were redlined because they were home to predominantly Black communities, while white families to the south received federal loans to buy or improve properties — funneling government capital directly to the renovation of those mansions.

The economic disparities are firmly entrenched. On Portland Place, a 1891 Queen Anne Victorian is on the market for $1.4 million. A few blocks to the north, just on the other side of Delmar, a six-bedroom home built four years later is for sale for $54,000.

Link: https://www.curbed.com/2020/6/29/213...protest-street
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 4:24 PM
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I lived in the CWE for a few years. The divide is blindingly obvious and happens within a two block walk.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 4:44 PM
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I read that the McCloskey's mansion was 'only' worth about a million. Even here in Houston, it would probably be worth 5x as much.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 4:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeInMyShoes View Post
I lived in the CWE for a few years. The divide is blindingly obvious and happens within a two block walk.
Indeed.

For those who are unfamiliar with the "Delmar Divide," just take a look at the built density of the Central West End (one of St. Louis' most affluent neighborhoods) vs the other neighborhoods immediately to the north of Delmar.
https://www.google.com/maps/@38.6462.../data=!3m1!1e3
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 5:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Emprise du Lion View Post
Indeed.

For those who are unfamiliar with the "Delmar Divide," just take a look at the built density of the Central West End (one of St. Louis' most affluent neighborhoods) vs the other neighborhoods immediately to the north of Delmar.
https://www.google.com/maps/@38.6462.../data=!3m1!1e3
I noticed that on a recent visit to St Louis. Honest question, is there a more jarring divide anywhere else in the United States?
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 5:14 PM
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The perspective of a black resident of Portland Place:

https://medium.com/@dedric.carter/sa...e-1d0e821f1730

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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 5:21 PM
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Originally Posted by BG918 View Post
I noticed that on a recent visit to St Louis. Honest question, is there a more jarring divide anywhere else in the United States?
i would imagine you can find similar thresholds in Detroit, Baltimore, and Chicago but i don't have any data to submit. investment has starting to cross the "divide" already, though. Wash. U. is driving investment in the neighborhoods north of the Delmar Loop and rehabs are taking off along Delmar itself between the Loop and the CWE.

Regarding the private streets—they're a horrible idea and make access/navigation a pain in the ass. I've walked through them countless times and have never been hassled, but I'm a boring white guy so... On the other hand, a local preservationist and historian pointed out that the exclusivity of the streets has, at least, preserved them in remarkable condition. Personally, I think most of the mansions need to be converted to multi-family as they're constraining the population density of the CWE.

Last edited by IWant2BeInSTL; Jul 27, 2020 at 5:31 PM.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 5:25 PM
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Originally Posted by BG918 View Post
I noticed that on a recent visit to St Louis. Honest question, is there a more jarring divide anywhere else in the United States?
The divide between Detroit and the city of Grosse Pointe Park is pretty jarring. Detroit on the left, GPP on the right:
https://www.google.com/maps/place/Gr...!4d-82.9374159


cute little business district in Grosse Pointe Park:
https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3815...7i16384!8i8192


literally 2 blocks south as soon as you cross into Detroit:
https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3806...7i16384!8i8192


Also, this is a bit less stark, but there are two suburbs of Cincinnati right next to each other, divided by a train track: Wyoming is wealthy and beautiful, with a healthy little village main street:
https://www.google.com/maps/@39.2272...7i16384!8i8192

The other side of the tracks is Lockland, which is much poorer and industrial. Race is part of it, but Lockland has historically been home to a large Appalachian community, so this isn't totally a story of race-based redlining. But the other side of the tracks feels like a totally different world from Wyoming:
https://www.google.com/maps/@39.2272...7i16384!8i8192

Last edited by edale; Jul 27, 2020 at 5:39 PM.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 5:40 PM
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
I read that the McCloskey's mansion was 'only' worth about a million. Even here in Houston, it would probably be worth 5x as much.
Well if it was in St. Charles (STL suburb) I would assume it would be worth 5x as much there too.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 7:03 PM
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Originally Posted by IWant2BeInSTL View Post
i would imagine you can find similar thresholds in Detroit, Baltimore, and Chicago but i don't have any data to submit.
Can't think of anything quite so stark in Chicago... the closest I can think of are Drexel Ave in Kenwood, Austin Blvd. between Oak Park and Austin and the BNSF line between North and South Lawndale, but it's not as apparent from above.


Here's where Austin meets Oak Park:
https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8947...7i16384!8i8192
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 10:01 PM
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That type of divide exists in Cleveland too - between the suburb of Shaker Hts and the city of Cleveland. Shaker Hts (and the neighboring areas of Cleveland Hts) would be our equivalent to the Central West End. The differences are much less stark viewed from the air on google maps, as the Cleveland neighborhoods are pretty intact - but the racial/wealth/health divides are extreme. The MSA census tracts with the highest and lowest life expectancy are literally bordering eachother here. Shaker doesn't have any private streets like that, but the city did go as far as physically block off the city from Cleveland along Scottsdale Blvd.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 10:04 PM
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 10:05 PM
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Can't think of anything quite so stark in Chicago... the closest I can think of are Drexel Ave in Kenwood, Austin Blvd. between Oak Park and Austin and the BNSF line between North and South Lawndale, but it's not as apparent from above.


Here's where Austin meets Oak Park:
https://www.google.com/maps/@41.8947...7i16384!8i8192
yeah maybe not a specific road, but there are some very rough/dilapidated neighborhoods in Chicago so there must be some sort boundary. i mean, a quick google search of "bad neighborhoods Chicago" brings up plenty of pics that look a lot like N. STL to me.

also, can't believe I forgot to mention Philly. i could not believe the condition of some West Philly neighborhoods that i walked through. difference is, their stuff is still (barely) standing, whereas much of N. STL has been cleared.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 10:10 PM
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Since when are gated communities which own and maintain their own streets anything new in America?

The problem for this neighborhood in St. Louis was the gates weren't guarded by humans and there was no one to respond when the "protestors" (i.e rioters) crashed through them other than individual homeowners.

But this is what happens when the cops stop doing their job: vigilante justice. And we are going to have more of it. But IMHO there's no way those people who broke down a gate and entered private property can be called "peaceful" and I'd love to be on the jury when the St. Louis prosecutor tries to lable them such.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by JManc View Post
I read that the McCloskey's mansion was 'only' worth about a million. Even here in Houston, it would probably be worth 5x as much.
Maybe he'd be interested in trading for my 2 bedrooms/2 bath condo. We've definitely got better security.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 10:14 PM
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Since when are gated communities which own and maintain their own streets anything new in America?

The problem for this neighborhood in St. Louis was the gates weren't guarded by humans and there was no one to respond when the "protestors" (i.e rioters) crashed through them other than individual homeowners.

But this is what happens when the cops stop doing their job: vigilante justice. And we are going to have more of it. But IMHO there's no way those people who broke down a gate and entered private property can be called "peaceful" and I'd love to be on the jury when the St. Louis prosecutor tries to lable them such.
they weren't "rioters." watch the videos. and they didn't "crash" through anything. the videos show that the gates were open and completely intact when they walked through. the crazy-ass, gun-nut couple lied about a bunch of stuff. i don't personally agree with what the protesters were protesting (Mayor Krewson reading names on a YouTube video) but they weren't "rioting." c'mon. the couple, on the other hand, has been charged with felony weapons counts: https://www.washingtonpost.com/natio...weapons-count/
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 10:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Pedestrian View Post
Since when are gated communities which own and maintain their own streets anything new in America?

The problem for this neighborhood in St. Louis was the gates weren't guarded by humans and there was no one to respond when the "protestors" (i.e rioters) crashed through them other than individual homeowners.

But this is what happens when the cops stop doing their job: vigilante justice. And we are going to have more of it. But IMHO there's no way those people who broke down a gate and entered private property can be called "peaceful" and I'd love to be on the jury when the St. Louis prosecutor tries to lable them such.
I take it you didn't read the article, because you missed the whole point of it.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by IWant2BeInSTL View Post
they weren't "rioters." watch the videos. and they didn't "crash" through anything. the videos show that the gates were open and completely intact when they walked through. the crazy-ass, gun-nut couple lied about a bunch of stuff. i don't personally agree with what the protesters were protesting (Mayor Krewson reading names on a YouTube video) but they weren't "rioting." c'mon. the couple, on the other hand, has been charged with felony weapons counts: https://www.washingtonpost.com/natio...weapons-count/
For some people in the US, protesters and rioters are synonymous.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by IWant2BeInSTL View Post
yeah maybe not a specific road, but there are some very rough/dilapidated neighborhoods in Chicago so there must be some sort boundary. i mean, a quick google search of "bad neighborhoods Chicago" brings up plenty of pics that look a lot like N. STL to me.

also, can't believe I forgot to mention Philly. i could not believe the condition of some West Philly neighborhoods that i walked through. difference is, their stuff is still (barely) standing, whereas much of N. STL has been cleared.
Yeah for sure there are rough neigbhorhoods, but the boundaries are a bit more gradual for the most part where you don't go from "fancy" to "super-rough" so fast. Maybe in the past the transition from Hyde Park to Woodlawn was more like that.
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2020, 11:25 PM
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For some people in the US, protesters and rioters are synonymous.
No, protestors stay off private property when not welcome there and do no damage to private property. Rioters do. A high percentage of the so-called protests recently have devolved into riots because of the presence in the crowds of people wanting to engage in violence and the inability of the organizers, who may have intended them to be peaceful, to control the interlopers.

The bottom line is that these events now are changing no minds and serving no purpose. Indeed, they may be making some people wonder about their initial support. It's time to end them but they probably won't end because the of the elements who enjoy the opportunity to flout the law and wave a middle digit at society.
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