Saint Louis, Missouri
Saint Louis is one of the most under appreciated cities in the US. It was one of the biggest cities West of the Appalachians in the mid to late 1800s. In 1870, 1900 and 1910 Saint Louis was the 4th largest city in the country. Since 1950 Saint Louis' population has fallen by over half. It's peak population was 856,796 (1950) it's current population is 319,294. From the 1930s to the 1970s the city of Saint Louis was butchered by a number of modernist urban renewal projects. The most visible of these projects is the Gateway Arch. 40 city blocks of irreplaceable historic waterfront buildings were demolished to make way for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial park and Gateway Arch. In the late 1940s to 1960s many neighborhoods were bulldozed and replaced with housing projects and freeways. Some of those projects like Pruitt–Igoe became national symbols of the failure of modernist public housing ideas. Pruitt–Igoe was demolished from 1972-76. In spite of the mid-century destruction and breath taking population loss, Saint Louis still has several surviving 19th century neighborhoods and a priceless collection of historic buildings. It's not clear that Saint Louis has yet hit bottom however. From 2000 to 2010 the city's population declined another 8.3% and wholesale demolition of historic buildings is on-going especially on the Northside. Some parts of the city are showing signs of new life which gives one hope that this priceless American treasure is not completely lost.
These photos were taken along the industrial waterfront both immediately North and South of downtown. Saint Louis had a diverse industrial economy in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of the buildings from these periods have been lost but some remain. In many other cities these buildings would have been converted into condos and offices long ago. In Saint Louis they are mostly still empty or being marginally used by small businesses or for storage.