by Michael R. Allen
Here is 16th Street looking south across Delmar Boulevard. This may seem a mundane site to serve as a subject for a short article, but it is noteworthy for one reason: the stupid gates that blocked 16th Street are gone. The gates have been gone for a few years now, but for a long time gates blocked the sidewalks and street here, cutting off through traffic of all kinds between Delmar and Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Residents of Carr Square couldn’t pass through walking to downtown, downtown residents could not pass through walking north. Cars couldn’t pass from Washington up to MLK or vice versa. Parking spots on this block were ridiculous on weekends, when they sat unused while City Museum patrons circles the block looking for spaces. Street grids are systems, and no disruption is casual to users. Like most closures in St. Louis, this closure had no apparent reason, other than to serve some whim of a tenant in one of the warehouses.
No doubt some well-meaning alderman put forth a bill to vacate the right-of way here, and no doubt that alderman was wrong to do so. Streets, sidewalks and alleys are public spaces that should be closed only in rare circumstances — and business loading, parking and “security” are insufficient reasons to alter the flow of the life-blood of pedestrians and motorists across the city. Another alderman reversed the closure, and the life of the grid has returned.
If there’s such a closure in your ward, call your alderman and get it taken out! Gates and blockades can be removed as easily as they are installed.