Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sprucing Up a Downtown Entrance

I'm a big fan of the recent landscaping improvements that have been added to the grassy areas alongside 55/70 at the Memorial Drive exit.  They really help spruce up what was previously a drab area and help make for a nicer entrance into downtown.

This got me thinking about other ways to improve downtown's front doorstep.

Obviously, renovating the decrepit Powell Square Building would have the greatest impact, but who knows when that will ever come about?

One relatively cost-efficient way to welcome motorists to downtown would be to paint the railroad trestle that crosses over 55.70 immediately south of the Memorial Drive exit (and immediately north of Powell Square).  It was once painted to read "Route of the Eagles" by Union Pacific, but most of it has been painted over with a solid swath of black (a similar trestle can be found on Kingshighway, near Fyler).

Why not give this trestle a fresh, colorful look?  Paint it in red, yellow and blue to make it look like the city of St. Louis flag, along with "Welcome to Downtown St. Louis." Perhaps a philanthropic organization such as the Danforth Foundation or the Gateway Foundation could help pay for the makeover.

Trailnet recently converted a retired railroad trestle over Interstate 44 in Kirkwood to a walking/biking trail and painted it bright green - the results are amazing.  Something similar would look incredible downtown and could be done relatively easily.  The only difference between the downtown trestle and the one in Kirkwood is that the downtown one is still in use and would likely require permission from Union Pacific.

What do you think?


Daron said...

You're right, and you forgot to mention the Iron Horse Trestle.

Our local foundations have already committed their funds, but maybe something as simple as a school art project would do.

I'd donate a dollar to see a fancy stl flag mosaic on the side of a trestle. That'd be rad.

Mark Groth said...

I've seen this suggested elsewhere and I think it's a great idea. I would also like to see some of the old ghost signs on city buildings brought back to life.

Matt Kastner said...

I posted a similar idea on the urbanstl forums a couple of years ago. Seemed like everyone was against it. They all liked the "gritty New York" feel of the bridges. Personally, I hate them. I think they make the whole Chouteaus Landing area uninviting. I absolutely love what Trailnet did in Kirkwood. Maybe we could get the Cardinals to foot the bill for one of the bridges if they could paint STL logos all over a section near Busch.

Vanishing STL said...

Landscaping?... Really?

The only thing that will really improve the front door of Downtown St. Louis is removal of Interstate 70 from the PSB to Cass Avenue. Please check out:

Matthew said...

The railroad company will have nothing to do with this. We tried it before during some of the original master planning for Chouteau's Landing.