I'll try to overcome my techno-impatience and apply what Bixa patiently laid out: displaying photos from OneDrive. I'm starting with a series of underexposed shots from my mobile phone last night, walking home from the library around 20hr30. It takes around 20 minutes from my quiet neighborhood to the quiet library neighborhood, with a busy commercial intersection in between.
The library has "MAPLEWOOD MUNICIPAL POOL" engraved in stone over the entrance, because until a few years ago it was the pool entrance and locker rooms. They redid it nicely, and the librarians are lovely.
It's a sweet library, on the small side but in a consortium with several others to share materials.
The team's called the Blue Devils. Recently they made national news for dropping their football program in favor of soccer. I'm proud of them for that. We're not Bible Belt here, but still the satanic mascot seems a little daring. Remnant of a looser age.
In the background you can see the outdoor pool's waterslide.
Bleachers and track. One couple's walking the track tonight.
Next cut through the QuikTrip, open all night and usually busy.
I cross cautiously at the light, past the White Castle. I tried one of their items once, the veggie slider: it was pretty ghastly.
Normally I cut through the funeral home parking lot to a quiet back street, but for the purpose of this post will take a slightly longer way along Manchester Road, part of old Route 66. I am rewarded by seeing that the old TKO DJ shop is being turned into a fried chicken joint. Looks promising.
and I also find that the old martial arts storefront has become a record store. Now that's nice. I go inside and buy the first album I see, by Sarah Vaughan. $1.99 because it's "not pristine" per the owners. They only opened on Friday, 3 days ago.
Past Tiffany's Diner with its new liquor license. It gets very busy around 0130 when the bars close, the owner told me once. I've had breakfast at Tiffany's, solid diner fare. Schlafly's beer is brewed down the block, and is giving Anheuser-Busch a run for its money in Missouri.
Down Sutton, past the hipster doughnut shop Strange Doughnuts. I have no idea what makes it hipster, but people stand in lines for them into the night.
This building, originally the City Hall, is my favorite rehab in town. When we moved to Maplewood 15 years ago it was missing windows, was entirely derelict. Now it's a pinball bar. Monday nights they have a skeeball tournament, in full swing as I peered in.
This park was a bus loop when we moved here. Originally it was a streetcar loop. Last year they tore it all out and put in grass, native plantings, and this cool little boulder fountain.
This is the door to the church I call George Clooney United Methodist, where my daughters joined the gawkers watching Himself emerging repeatedly until the director of Up in the Air was pleased with the effect.
Absolutely delighted to see your town and your doings there, particularly in the light of your having survived a veggie slider. (what possessed you?!)
Lola, it looks as though many buildings are getting new lives and that the new businesses are making it. Why would that be, do you think? Are you all a bedroom community of St. Louis?
What a treat to see a place where people can walk around at night, where the library is thriving, and where there are obviously enough younger people to keep things like record stores and pinball bars going. Looking forward to more!
I enjoyed this report and the evocative atmosphere your photos conveyed. One of my favorite things to do is wander around late at night, but if I bring my dog, it's too complicated to try to take photos. Guess she'll have to stay home now and then.
Think there might be something "strange" in that doughnut recipe? I hope the fried chicken place turns out to be a winner - the sign says it's "world famous", so it must be good.
Thanks Lola for taking me on a trip down memory lane of sorts. I don't recall many of these businesses save The White Castle (where I never had a veggie slider as it likely did not even exist back when I was there). I certainly do recall Manchester Road as it was the main artery that ran through the cluster of small village like communities. (My then boyfriend was from Maplewood and then Kirkwood) and where I lived in Webster Groves which was a sweet area with a main street that had pretty much all I needed as a student in terms of amenities all within walking or cycling distance. There was a grocery, a small independently owned pharmacy, several diners/cafes, very 1950ish. I do remember that there were no bars or establishments that served alcoholic beverages and was considered a "dry" town yet there were a couple of places where you could buy bottled/packaged liquor or beer. (At the time we drank a beer called Stag as we avoided all Anheuser Busch beverages. I don't know if it still exists). There was also absolutely no night life whatsoever unless there was an event at the university which at that time had an excellent theater department that was quite well known.
Just out of curiosity, what are the rents like these days? I remember ours was incredibly cheap for a good sized house, and I had many friends that shared huge houses for very little.
Bixa, thank you. Maplewood is an "inner ring suburb" of St. Louis, and we live around four blocks from the City limits. Any other city would have assimilated us long ago, but City and County have some sort of odd legal thing where they must remain separate forever. One hundred years ago or so the city was rich and didn't want any part of the poor farmers in the county; now it's the opposite. Commuters are as likely to travel west away from the city to work as they are to drive downtown St. Louis. This also skews the crime statistics.
There used to be a commuter train station down the block -- along a line that extended into Webster Groves and then Kirkwood, Casimira -- leading to fine old houses being built by downtown types from ~ 1900. Ours, solid middle class, was built around 1904, when town was booming with the World's Fair.
Thanks, Chexbres! Yes, I like walking at night, too, whether in the country under stars or in town, and am grateful I can do that here. I take the Metro home from work often at midnight, a seventeen-minute brisk walk home from the station, and feel quite comfortable. Usually it's just me and some bunnies I've startled.
Not sure what I expected from that slider, Casimira. Maplewood's a great walking and bicycling town: old family-owned hardware store, drugstore, groceries, post office all within a half mile. A few places to hear free live music, eat, buy books.
When we moved here in '99 we needed something inexpensive since I was home schooling our girls and worked only part time. We picked up a bargain right before ballooning real estate prices, but had to endure sneers when people asked where we lived. Back then they were predicting we'd be a tear-down area, but I haven't seen that. Several years ago the city began to offer $0 first year tax to small businesses in the downtown, and it's really paid off.
Funny about alcohol, Casimira. There are two old roadhouses built on our side of the Webster city limits; a cab driver told me that Maplewood had a sin city reputation at one time. My father used to drink Stag, too, and Falstaff. They started brewing Stag again not long ago on the other side of the river, but I don't think Falstaff's made anymore. A pub on Manchester advertises $1 Stag happy hour.
I'm not sure about rents. When Hannah and her two friends looked for an apartment or house last year, they couldn't find anything suitable in the neighborhood.
G. Clooney Methodist was able to put up a spiffy new sign outside after the moviemakers left.
This shop offers "Holistic respiratory therapy" in a salt room, or halotherapy. Sounds intriguing.
Moving away from "downtown": St. Louis is largely built of brick and stone, mandated after a big fire a century ago, but Maplewood has nice old frame homes. This one, across from GeoC Methodist, had fake snow blown onto its lawn and shrubbery during filming.
Even worse resolution here, sorry. People bought this place several years ago and fixed it up nicely. When we first moved here it was poorly kept, and a boy with a voice like a Little Rascals bully could often be heard yelling from the yard. Visual and auditory improvement.
Another block to our corner. This was a Moose Lodge when we moved here. Subsequent owner restored it to its original commercial looks, and now it's a kind of new age baby/yoga/photography store. Upstairs is a "digital marketing" company, whatever that is.
Turn the corner, down to our house.
This is an excellent Halloween neighborhood. Two families on our block had bonfires that night, and the police and fire trucks drove around giving out candy. Here's our Jack-o-lantern.
Yes, that whole County/City thing made me crazy and without a vehicle and totally inadequate transit at that time, I often felt trapped there especially after my boyfriend (who had the vehicle to escape with) and I parted ways. We did, at my insistence live in the West End of the city (the old Gas Light district which was at that time being rejuvenated and more my "cup of tea" in that it was very reminescent of NYC's Greenwich Village. Some of the earliest entrepreneurs were acquaintances of mine, the original owner of Llewelynns, Balabans and several other establishments. Real urban pioneers bless their hearts.... Aside from being walking distance from Forest Park and hosting a slew of very cool bars, shops and cafes, I loved it there. Our apartment was half of a turn of the century mansion with a working fireplace etc. But, my boyfriend was much more of a "county" boy as that is where he grew up and to him, the only reason to go downtown or enter into the city was to go to Busch Stadium for a baseball game. The Soulard District was barely starting up at that time and downtown St. Louis was a virtual "ghost town" after business hours save after a ball game. So, while I did enjoy my time living in "the county" and was forced to make the best of it after our breakup, making friends with alot of theater people and like-minded people such as myself (it was tough because all of the people I had known there were his friends). I think back on it now as one of the happiest times of my life, having survived a major breakup and forging on ahead on my own. (As an aside, I still stay in touch with this particular "old flame", he is still there in the county).
It is refreshing to see that more people of the same persuasion have made it their home. It certainly always had the potential which your thread has so clearly demonstrated.
I really enjoyed this little walk which also shows that a phone is perfectly suitable for taking pictures, even at night.
It is also really nice to see a few misconceptions shattered. Even I have been conditioned over the years to think of places like Saint Louis as not being totally safe to walk around at night, or even walkable at all since so many places are now designed to be only reachable by car, such as all of the places with strip malls one or two miles apart and "nothing" in between. It's the main reason that all of my favourite reports here concern members showing us their neighbourhood or their town without worrying about whether there are any real tourist sights. It's the sort of information that you will never find in guidebooks, and even on the internet stories and reports about tranquil little corners of towns with nothing "special" are few and far between. Threads like this are extremely informative in so many ways.
The only "unfortunate" thing that I see is that nobody else is walking around and taking advantage of the area.
I'd venture to say, and Lola can correct me if I'm wrong, that there are places in Saint Louis that are not safe to walk around . These areas would more likely be in the city proper not in the county. The demographics are very different in the city versus the county.
One rarely heard of much crime n the neighborhoods around Lola and one could likely leave their door unlocked. That would not be the case in the city.
Casimira, come back and visit, and let that shortsighted county fellow see that you did just fine without him. The Central West End is doing beautifully, including Herbie's (formerly Balaban's). Llywelyn's is one of Bob's old favorites. I go to occasional author readings/signings at Left Bank Books. The old Gaslight Square area was looking a little dilapidated last time I went by there, but I think has a couple of new restaurants going in. We take out-of-towners to Soulard Market and Lafayette Square to walk around, for their old-fashioned rehabbed charm.
Yes, I wouldn't walk at night just any old where in the St. Louis metro area. I don't mean to make us all Norman Rockwell-y. But there's a lot of unjustified fear, maybe fueled by watching TV news. Many of my female coworkers think they're brave just walking to the parking lot alone after dark. They come with tales of being nearly killed commuting by car, and then think I'm foolhardy when no one's so much as said Boo to me on my travels.
My photos are a little underpopulated and Edward Hopper-like, aren't they K? I had a chance to make eye contact with total of one human being on that walk to and from the library, besides the librarians and record store guys. That's why we love being in cities where people are out interacting. St. Louis has its share of soulless suburbs as you describe. I steer clear of them.
Oh, yes, Manchester, lugg! I would that I could drive out there and hear an accent like yours. Manchester Road, our little town's Main Street, connects St. Louis with the town/suburb of that name, 10 miles southwest of here. Maybe some homesick Mancunian named it, or someone just trying to sound classy? Route 66 once followed Manchester Road.
Oh, yes, not everyone takes advantage of this good walking town. The woman next door to us, in her mid 60's, on Sundays gets into her car and drives to Clooney United Methodist 1.5 blocks away, parks, and goes to church. Once, back when he was still talking to us, I passed the old guy who lived to our east down the block walking. He was quick to explain that he was walking a friend's dog. Not, you know, walking.
(I'm the only one who calls it Clooney Methodist. They didn't really rename it after the movie wss done)