Metro East

Bowling Alleys Vanishing from St. Louis

by Michael R. Allen

Today’s Post-Dispatch carries a headline: Bowling alley is razed for shopping center [DEAD LINK]

This time, the bowling alley is the Montclaire in Edwardsville, Illinois. I have never been there, and can’t say anything about its architecture or history. I can say that many bowling alleys of all ages are closing or being torn down in the St. Louis area, and only a few new “boutique” style alleys are opening. The new alleys usually don’t have more than 8 or 12 lanes and are often more geared toward alcohol sales than bowling.

Proprietors of bowling alleys that have closed recently have blamed the closures on the decline of league bowling, which guaranteed steady revenue for older alleys with high maintenance costs. I wonder if our atomized society will ever support good, affordable bowling alleys again. St. Louis once had enough bowling alleys to rival the most blue-collar of the other Rust Belt cities. Now, there are only a handful left, with only three lanes left in the city (two of which are small, new and not affordable to working-class people).