Have You Seen Our Downtown Model?

by Michael R. Allen

Recently, I received an email from a person living on another continent asking me if St. Louis had a model of the city and, if not, what organizations would sponsor such a model. Before I sent my first response, I did not think to mention the model of downtown St. Louis that once sat in the storefront window of Downtown Now! at 16th and Washington (now the TrailNet office).

Perhaps one of the reasons for forgetting is that the model is now tucked away out of the sight of the general public. Our downtown model, updated through 1999, now sits in the entrance lobby of the Planning and Urban Design Agency on the 11th floor of the office building at 1015 Locust Street. That space is public, but few people know that the model is there on display. I don’t know the particulars, but my guess is that the city took it because it had space for it.

The Chicago Architecture Foundation maintains a scale model of the Loop in the ArchiCenter that is a continual draw of tourist traffic. Would our downtown model generate such interest? I think so. Storefront window space is a lot more precious now than it was in 1999, but we have obvious gathering spaces — the Old Post Office atrium, the St. Louis Visitors Center, a window at a remodeled Macy’s — where the model might edify downtown visitors.