Saint Louis (Mo.). City Plan Commission.

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The City Plan Commission

APR lo'ia

JULY, 1912



John H. Gundlach,
President City Council

John H. Sommerich,
Speaker House of Delegates

Maxime JReber,
President Board of Public Improvements

James C. Travilla,
Street Commissioner

DwiGHT M. Davis,
Park Commissioner

James N. McKelvey,
Building Commissioner


George E. Kessler Colin M. Selph Cyrus P. Walbridge

Hugo A. Koehler Charles A. Stix Harry B, Wallace

Philip C. Scanlan William Trelease Thomas C. Young

Walter B. Stevens,







Be it ordained by the Municipal Assembly of the City of St.
Louis, as follows :

Section One. There is hereby created a Commission to be known
as the City Plan Commission which shall consist of fifteen members.

Section Two. The President of the City Council ex-officio, the
Speaker of the House of Delegates ex-officio, the President of the
Board of Public Improvements ex-officio, the Street Commissioner
ex-officio, the Park Commissioner ex-officio, and the Commissioner of
Public Buildings ex-officio shall be members of said Commission. The
other nine members shall be appointed by the Mayor and all members
of said Commission shall serve without comjjensation. Five of said
nine members to be appointed by the Mayor shall be appointed for
four years and the remaining four members shall be appointed for
two years. All of said members so appointed shall hold their re-
spective office until their successors shall be duly appointed and quali-

Section Three. The qualifications of the members so to be ap-
pointed by the Mayor shall be as provided in Section Ten of Article
Four of the Charter of the City of St. Louis.

Section Four. The duties of the City Plan Commission shall be :

First. To prepare a comprehensive city plan for the future im-
provement, as well as for the commercial development of the city, in-
cluding recommendations for :

(a) Improvement of the river front;

(b) Extension of streets and the supervision of the opening of
sub-divisions ;


Report of the City Plan Commission

(c) Improvement of surroundings of Union Station ;

(d) A system of widening and opening various through streets
so as to make the city more cohesive and less disjointed ;

(e) Control of nuisances;

(f) A playground, park and boulevard system;

(g) Location of public buildings ;

(h) Encouraging the location of manufacturing establishments
in designated districts ;

(i) Extension of conduit district for wires;

(j) Extension of granitoid sidewalk districts, and for the regu-
lation of same in the residence districts so as to provide for the plant-
ing of trees and for sufficient soil space to assure their growth ;

(k) Such other improvements as will tend to make St. Louis a
greater and more beautiful city.

Second. To suggest the state and municipal legislation neces-
sary to carry out the recommendations of the Commission.

Section Five. The Commission shall make all rules for its guid-
ance and procedure.

Section Six. The Commission shall submit a report to the Mu-
nicipal Assembly as comprehensive as may be, on or before January
first, nineteen hundred and twelve, and shall make such other reports
as the Commission may deem advisable.

Approved March 27, 1911.

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Report of the City Plan Commission



To the Honorable Municipal Assembly of the City of St. Louis —

Under the provisions of ordinance 25745, approved March 27,
1911, the City Plan Commission submits the following report :

The Commission unanimously recommends that the city acquire
by condemnation the property embraced in the city blocks bounded
by Market and Chestnut streets. Twelfth street and Jefferson avenue,
to create a central traffic-parkway. The Commission recommends
this as the essential first step to be taken under Section Four of the
Ordinance, which provides that —

"The duties of the City Plan Commission shall be:

"First. To prepare a comprehensive city plan for the future
improvement as well as for the commercial development of the city,
including recommendations for :

"(c) Improvement of surroundings of Union Station.

"(d) A system of widening and opening various through streets,
so as to make the city more cohesive and less disjointed.

"(f) A playground, park and boulevard system."

The Initial Step.

This traffic-parkway from Twelfth street to Jefferson avenue is
the initial step in the planning for a greater and better St. Louis.
If approved, it will be followed naturally by extension westward from
Jefferson avenue to Grand avenue. The best city planning is that which
permits traffic to pass from any point to any other point in a city by
the most direct and expeditious routes. Judged by such definition
St. Louis to-day is not well planned. The traffic-parkway from
Twelfth street to Grand avenue will become a main artery of travel
east and west. It will be supplemented by connecting radial thor-
oughfares which will make the city cohesive. There will follow prop-

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Report of the City Plan Commission

erly the creation of a trafific-parkway from the vicinity of Twelfth
street and Washington avenue northwesterly, touching small parks
and playgrounds, including St. Louis Place, and making connection
with Natural Bridge Road and Florissant avenue. This will bring
North St. Louis into direct and close relationship with the business
center. From Twelfth street and Clark avenue will extend south-
westerly to the suburbs a traffic-parkway corresponding with that of
the northwest, reaching the parks and playgrounds of the southern
half of the city and tying that section by direct means of communica-
tion to the business center.

Depreciating Values.

In the vicinity of Olive and Twelfth streets values range from
$1,000 a front foot upwards. About the intersection of Grand av-
enue and Olive street values have climbed to similar figiires. Be-
tween these two centers of high-priced and rising property lies a strip
two miles long and half a mile wide. Three-fourths of the property
embraced in that strip is not worth as much as it was twenty years
ago. A considerable portion would not sell to-day for the prices re-
alized thirty years ago. And some of it has dropped below the value
of forty years ago. The depreciation in many blocks has carried this
property downward to one-third and one-half of what it was consid-
ered worth by a former generation. Rentals have been reduced to
fractions of what the improved property once yielded. Four-fifths
of the buildings have been allowed to deteriorate. Hundreds of these
buildings are now untenanted. A thousand of them yield the owners
only nominal revenue.

A Blighted District.

And yet this strip is the geographical center of St. Louis. Its
gently undulating topography is ideal for the best city growth. This
"blighted district" fronts upon the main gateway into the city.
Lengthwise through it run the chief lines of travel between the busi-
ness center and the residence sections.

Except in a few scattered localities the conditions, bad as they
are, are growing worse. The general tendency of values is down-
ward. More than one-half of the frontage is for sale. There is prac-
tically no market for ground west of Jefferson avenue, east of Theresa
avenue and south of Locust street. The occasional transactions that
are taking place east of Jefferson avenue are at prices so low as to
tempt speculative buyers willing to wait an indefinite period.

The few improvements between Olive and Market streets consist

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Report of the City Plan Commission

chiefly of light manufacturing plants attracted there by the cheapness
of the ground. Possibly in the course of the next two generations
this blighted district, if nothing is done to redeem it, may be occu-
pied by three-story and four-story factories. That seems to be fore-
casted by the transition now in its early stages. Such an evolution
would fix the undesirable character of the strip for the next half cen-
tury and perhaps permanently. It would hold down values in the en-
tire district. It would have a damaging influence on the city's

Grand and Olive.

To-day the commercial and financial heart of St. Louis is between
Fourth and Twelfth streets, Washington avenue and Market streets.
Five years ago the intersection of Broadway and Washington avenue
was the center of greatest sidewalk traffic. To-day, in the course of
every twenty-four hours, more people pass the crossing of Grand av-
enue and Olive street than any other intersection of St. Louis thor-
oughfares. Grand avenue is fifteen minutes from North St. Louis,
from South St. Louis, from West St. Louis, from anywhere. The
daily papers, within a month, have called attention to the fact that
improvements being made and planned in the vicinity of this rising
center amount to over $6,000,000.

No gift of prophecy is necessary to predict what may happen if
the central section of the city from Twelfth street to Grand avenue is
allowed to remain in the present undesirable state until occupied
gradually by manufacturing industries encouraged by the present
cheapness of the ground. From Twelfth street to Grand avenue the
district between Washington avenue and Market street should be pre-
pared for the future commercial expansion. In obedience to the
city's natural growth stores, wholesale and retail, hotels, dowoitoA^Ti
apartment houses, places of amusement, should occupy the territory
westward along Washington avenue, Locust, Olive, Pine, Chestnut
and Market streets. These frontages should advance rapidly by the
legitimate expansion of business and Avithout depreciation of any
other section.

Shifting Values.

St. Louis has suffered severely from the shifting of values. The
city has seen the leading commercial thoroughfares of one generation
become the depreciated and half-deserted avenues of another. The
palatial homes of one generation have become the rooming houses of

Report of the City Plan Commission

the next. St. Louis has ruins east of Fourth street and this long
blighted district west of Twelfth street. City planning should aim
to steady and make permanent the values of the business district. It
should provide for logical commercial growth which will not be at
the expense and loss of any other section. It should create great
thoroughfares which will take care of future traffic without that con-
gestion already apparent on downtown streets.

Looking to such desirable development, the City Plan Commis-
sion recommends the acquisition of the blocks between Market and
Chestnut streets westward from Twelfth street to Jefferson avenue,
for the creation of the central traffic-parkway. Present low values
of realty encourage immediate action.

Conditions Which Favor.

The frontage on Twelfth street, between Market and Chestnut
streets, is assessed at $1,000 per front foot for the corner of Twelfth
and Chestnut, and $1,100 per front foot for the corner at Twelfth and
Market. The frontage on Twelfth street between the two corners is
assessed at $650 per front foot.

In the western part of the block, extending to Thirteenth street,
the frontage on Chestnut street is assessed at $225 and on Market
street at $400. These assessments hold for the two frontages except
the corners at Thirteenth street, which are assessed at $350 for the
Chestnut street corner and $500 for the Market street corner.

On Grand avenue, the western terminus of the proposed traffic-
parkway, the ground between Lawton and Pine streets is assessed at
$350 on Pine for the Grand avenue corner and at $150 on Lawton for
the Grand avenue corner. From both ends of the traffic-parkway
valuations diminish rapidly. East of Jefferson avenue the ground is
assessed as low as $55 per front foot for Chestnut street frontage, and
as low as $65 per front foot for Market street frontage. West of Jef-
ferson avenue a considerable part of the frontage of Pine street is as-
sessed as low as $35 per front foot, while the assessment of the ground
fronting on Lawton avenue between Jefferson and Grand for several
blocks runs as low as $30 per front foot.

Cheap Improvements.

The valuations of improvements in the blocks within the limits of
the proposed traffic-parkway show the same tendency downward. Be-
tween Twelfth street and Jefferson avenue. Market and Chestnut
streets, there is only one block on which the improvements are rated

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Report of the City Plan Commission

by the assessor at over $100,000. That is the block between Eigh-
teenth and Nineteenth, Market and Chestnut streets, opposite Union
Station. The principal structures are hotels. The total valuation of
the improvements of the entire block is $116,800. The improvements
of the block between Sixteenth and Seventeenth, Market and Chest-
nut, are valued at only $41,800. The valuations of improvements
on the other blocks range between $45,000 and $100,000.

The total valuation of all of the improvements in the twelve
blocks from Twelfth street to Jefferson avenue, comprehended in the
recommended plan for the traffic-parkway, is $840,950, an average
of only $70,000 to the block.

In the nine blocks forming what may become the western sec-
tion of the proposed traffic-parkway, between Lawton avenue and
Pine street, extending from Jefferson avenue to Grand avenue, the
improvements range from $49,500 to $128,600. The former valua-
tion is for the improvements of the block between Leffingwell and
Ewing, while the latter valuation covers the block between Ewing and
Garrison. The total assessed valuation for all improvements on the
nine blocks is $815,100.

For the entire twenty-one blocks between Twelfth street and
Grand avenue the valuation of the improvements is placed by the as-
sessor at only $1,656,050.

Traffic-Parkway Plans.

Five tentative plans before the Commission illustrate the possi-
ble development of this trafSc-parkway. The blocks between Market
and Chestnut streets are narrow from north to south as compared
with other St. Louis city blocks. Lots fronting on these streets are
only 81 feet deep in the block from Twelfth to Thirteenth street.
West of Thirteenth street the lots are from 72 feet to 73 feet 5 inches
in depth. This shallow condition prevails to Jefferson avenue.

The condemnation of the blocks would give the city for the pro-
posed traffic-parkway a space of 287 feet width from the north side
of Chestnut street to the south side of Market street. The tentative
plans contemplate a division of this space into sidewalks, two traffic-
ways, two spaces for street car tracks, two narrow parks and a cen-
tral boulevard.

The tentative plans differ chiefly in the proposed width of the
sub-divisions. One of the plans gives the sidewalks along the prop-
erty lire of Chestnut and Market streets a width of ten feet. Next
to the sidewalk is allowed a space of ten feet for grass and trees. Tho

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Report of the City Plan Commission

trafficways are 45 feet in width, this space including the two reserva-
tions for the car tracks, which are located along the south side of the
Chestnut street traffic way and along the north side of the Market
street trafficway. Next to the car track reservations are the strips of
parking, each having a width of about 55 feet. This width is divided
to provide for a lawn of thirty feet, with two rows of trees, bordered
by walks 12 feet wide. Between the two strips of parking is a boule-
vard 50 feet in width.

Five Tentative Plans.

The trafficways are for business and slow-moving vehicles. The
boulevard is intended for fast-moving light vehicles. Along the street
ear reservations are walks bordering on the strips of lawn. This ten-
tative plan is Sketch A.

Sketch B varies from Sketch A in that it offers a different ar-
rangement of the walks in the parking, so that one walk passes be-
tween and underneath the double row of trees. The space allowed
between the rows of trees is 20 feet. The park width, including the
walk beneath the trees, is 53 feet 6 inches. The trafficways in Sketch
B are 45 feet, the same as in Sketch A.

Sketch C proposes to make the walks on the Chestnut and Mar-
ket street frontages 16 feet wide and narrows the trafficways to 36
feet, placing the street car tracks within the parking in such manner
that only the rails show above the grass. This plan would give for
the parking, which includes the street car track space and the walk
on either side of the double row of trees, a greater width than sug-
gested in the other sketches.

Sketch D also suggests the placing of the car tracks in the park-
ing and covering all but the rails with grass. It allows 16 feet for
the Chestnut and Market street walks, and gives the driveways a clear
width without street car interference of 36 feet. It provides for two
rows of trees in each strip of parking on either side of the boulevard,
and for a row of trees between the sidewalks and the trafficways.

Sketch E illustrates the possibilities of a subway underneath the
traffic-parkway at minimum cost for construction and with no dam-
age to abutting property. The removal of the car tracks and the sub-
stitution of a subway would allow, according to this sketch, a width of
66 feet 6 inches for each strip of parking, including the sidewalks un-
derneath the trees.


Report op the City Plan Commission

World-Famous Thoroughfares.

In creating a traffic-parkway such as that proposed between
Market and Chestnut streets, St. Louis will be proceeding along lines
of development which have been tested and proved in other cities.
The width is not excessive as compared with what other cities have
done. The wisdom of separation of fast and slow traffic has been
demonstrated and is no longer questioned. The expected great in-
crease of values on either side of the proposed traffic-parkway is
based upon the experience of other cities. Paris has, in the world-
famous Avenue des Champs Elysees, a thoroughfare 250 feet wide.

Philadelphia has planned the opening of a parkway from the
City Hall to the Art Museum on Reservoir Hill and Fairmoimt Park,
to be cut diagonally through existing blocks. This parkway is to be
300 feet wide, and the cost of it is estimated at between $7,000,000
and $8,000,000. Experts have reported that the increase of tax rev-
enue due to the enhanced values of adjacent property will net enough
to pay the interest on a bond issue for the full cost of the property
condemned and to provide a sinking fund.

Some of the great thoroughfares of the world which have re-
deemed districts and greatly increased values of adjacent property
are as follows :

The Avenue des Champs Elysees, Paris, 250 feet.

Reeperbahn, Hamburg, 210 feet.

Unter den Linden, Berlin, 190 feet.

Ring Strasse, Vienna, 185 feet.

Belle Alliance Strasse, Berlin, 160 feet.

Andrassy, Buda Pesth, 145 feet.

Avenue Henri Martin, Paris, 130 feet.

The Profit in Parkways.

Kansas City affords a nearby illustration of what can be done
by a traffic-parkway. The Paseo of that city, a combination of traffic
and parkway, redeemed a blighted district. It is now bordered by
high-class improvements, which have taken the place of small, cheap
structures. The property adjacent to the Paseo has doubled and
trebled in value as the result of the improvement.

Commonwealth avenue in Boston affords another illustration of
values given to abutting property by two trafficways with parking

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Report op the City Plan Commission

The plan of Seattle, recently adopted by the Municipal Plan
Commission of that city, provides for a central avenue 180 feet wide.

A significant fact bearing upon the central traffic-parkway prop-
osition is the local condition at two points on the two-mile strip. The
most valuable properties which it is proposed to condemn lie in front
of the City Hall and in front of the Union Station. These two blocks
in front of the City Hall with improvements are assessed at $601,970 ;
the two blocks in front of Union Station with improvements are as-
sessed at $694,245. The total of the four blocks, $1,296,215, is 31.5
per cent of the assessed valuations of the entire 21 blocks from
Twelfth street to Grand avenue. The marked increase in values of
the properties in front of the City Hall and in front of the Union
Station are due largely to the civic center and to the transportation
center. They safely indicate what may be expected for adjacent
property in the way of increased values as soon as the central traffic-
parkway is a certainty.

Union Station Surroundings.

Every public-spirited citizen of St. Louis has regretted the de-
pressing influence of surroundings upon the stranger stepping out of
Union Station. Many park and boulevard suggestions to remedy the
situation have been made and urged. The central traffic-parkway
will be more effective than any limited park or plaza. From the
front of Union Station the stranger vtdll look east or west as far as
the vision extends along the double trafficway, the boulevard and the
parking. The view will be such as no other American city affords the
incoming stranger.

St. Louis has no park between Wash street on the north and the
Mill Creek valley on the south. There is not in all this central sec-
tion a spot out of doors which offers rest. The proposed improve-
ment will give the city a park two miles long, narrow, to be sure, but
of sufficient width for trees and grass, walks and seats. From thv^
south and from the north these park facilities will be within easy
walking distance of many thousands of those city dwellers to whom
the shade and the green mean most.

Down-Tovi^n Dwellers.

All of St. Louis cannot live west of Grand avenue. There is a
downtown population to-day. There wdll be a downtown population
for generations to come. The people who must make their homes
within the central strip and near its northern and southern borders

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Report of the City Plan Commission

have rights to fresh air and to the other park benefits. This central
parkway will recognize those rights for all time to come.

The opening of wide, tree-bordered thoroughfares and the estab-
lishment of large parks west of Grand avenue have made the St.
Louis summer not only tolerable but agreeable to a large proportion
of the population. The creation of spacious parkways east of Grand
avenue will tend to similar conditions in that section and is justly
due to the people who live there.

The primary reason for the traffic-parkway is found in the travel
facilities which such a thoroughfare will afford the present and com-
ing generations. From several other points of view the proposition
is interesting and desirable.

A Section Without Parks.

The population between Lucas avenue on the north and the Mill
Creek Valley railroad tracks on the south, Twelfth street on the east
and Grand avenue on the west, as shown by the census of 1910, is

To this may be added properly the population between Lucas
avenue on the south and Cass avenue on the north, Twelfth street on
the east and Grand avenue on the west. This resident population,
according to the census of 1910, is 60,939.

According to the latest census, therefore, there are 101,540 peo-
ple of St. liouis living within easy walking distance of the central
traffic-parkway. And these 101,540 people are almost entirely with-
out park benefits to-day. They have one park of a single block on
Carr street and one of a single block on Glasgow avenue. They have
two playgrounds, each of a single block.

Within the district bounded by Lucas avenue on the north, Mill
Creek valley on the south. Grand avenue on the west and Twelfth
street on the east there are 991 acres, showing at present a resident
population of 41 to the acre. In other words, there are in this dis-
trict 26,218 people to the square mile.

"Within the district bounded by Cass avenue on the north, Lucas
avenue on the south. Twelfth street on the east and Grand avenue on
the west, there are 763.81 acres, showing at present a resident popu-
lation of 79.7 to the acre. In this district there are 59,462 people to
the square mile.

Density of Population.

The average population of St. Louis to the acre is 17.49, or 11,193

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