Sunday, January 20, 2013

Up And Coming Neighborhood Poll

So back in December I shared some thoughts on what an "up and coming" neighborhood means to me.  I posted a reader poll based on personal curiosity to see if my thoughts and gut feeling on the subject compare to the readers of my blog.  Now, I'm fully aware these free polls are entirely subjective and non-scientific and really just for fun.

Here are the results:

We have a winner, Dutchtown by 1 vote over Midtown.  Some thoughts on the responses:

  • there are 79 neighborhoods in St. Louis, you can't include them all.  The 11 I chose were based on my experience and thought they would be good candidates.
  • Marine Villa:  I was shocked it didn't get more love.  If I wanted to live on Cherokee Street, Marine Villa would be the neighborhood I'd choose.  Benton Park West would be a close second.
  • The write in votes
    • Dutchtown and Midtown votes came from a couple URLs, so likely the same person voting over and over.  Dutchtown could have easily been grouped in with Benton Park West, Gravois Park and Fox Park...after giving it some more thought, I think they are comparable when it comes to issues both upside and downside.  
    • Midtown and Midtown Alley are awesome and continue to blow my mind.  Millions have been invested here and there are restaurants, nightclubs, businesses, housing, etc that are simply awesome and lots of fun.  However, it doesn't strike me as a residential neighborhood (yet) and the census data indicate very low owner ocuupied housing units.  But man, the potential is there and the momentum is awe-inspiring.
    • Dogtown in not an official neighborhood, rather a part of town made up of Franz Park, Clayton/Tamm and Hi-Pointe...I love dogtown, but I wouldn't call it up and coming.  I'd call it arrived or "is what it is".  Sure there is a lot going on there, but I don't think of these neighborhoods as up and's more like Clifton Heights or the Hill...very stable.  
    • Cherokee Street is certainly up and coming.  My thoughts exactly, that's why I put the Cherokee neighborhoods of Marine Villa, Benton Park West and Gravois Park up there.  They didn't get many votes, although I don't think most people know what/where those neighborhoods are.  Cherokee Street is exciting and a prime example of grass roots positivity and gentrification. 
    • Skinker-Debaliviere and DeBaliviere Place.  OK, but million dollar homes don't qualify for up and coming to me.   Soulard?  No, it's a top 10 neighborhood.
    • Tower Grove South is a tale of 2 neighborhoods.  The north side and middle are fully functional, vibrant and alive.  For that reason, I didn't include it.  Yet, the south side around Gravois is a mess.  This is one of those areas where drug dealing is so rampant and obvious it blows my mind why the cops and city don't crack down here.  Park your car at Truc Lam and just watch right around 5-8 pm.  Dudes are dealing right in the street plain as day.
My vote was for Forest Park Southeast.  When my family was looking to move from the far southside to the middle belt of the city, we considered this area.  However, we couldn't find a house that met our needs.  I would live here in a heartbeat.  In fact, I'll be doing a follow up post on Forest Park Southeast in the near future.  So stay tuned. 

I was happy to see Fox Park and Benton Park West get 20 votes apiece.  To me, McKinley Heights, Fox Park, Tower Grove East and Benton Park West are the most important swing neighborhoods in the entire city for the next 10 years.  These neighborhoods are among the few areas that are racially and economically integrated and gentrification, safety, urban living, development, etc will be hot topics for the next 10 years or so.  As go these neighborhoods, so goes the entire city of St. Louis.  This part of town is the barometer of where St. Louis is headed.  The battleground for our future.

I have lived in an area that I would wholly consider an up and coming neighborhood for nearly 3 years and I've learned more about my urban sensibilities, needs, wants, fears, etc.  I feel like I know what is great and exciting about St. Louis and what is frustrating and sad and tough as hell.  

Bottom line:  for now, I feel like I am part of something transformational living close to the action.  I am happy to see building permit stickers all over this part of town.  I am happy to see young people moving in.  I am happy to see people who want to be engaged in their surroundings and the future of St. Louis in larger numbers. 

Cheers to the up and coming neighborhoods of St. Louis.


  1. I will just reiterate that many of the "official" neighborhood designations have no relationship to the lived experience nor consciousness of many who live there, or most of us who grew up here. Cherokee Street is a neighborhood whether a real estate marketer from City Hall knows it or not. And as I have ranted before, Dutchtown's REAL boundaries include several "offivial" hoods. By the way I was one who wrote in Dutchtown - STL's most populous hood, and several of us shared the link. So I know of at least a handful of people who voted for Dutchtown. I understand why you use the official designations, but it will never match up to the lived experience of most St. Louisans because they did not come from us, they are a marketing scheme imposed from others

  2. ^Brian S, I hear you man. I wish the city would consolidate Franz Park, Hi-Pointe and Clayton/Tamm and brand/market the whole thing as dogtown. Heck add Kings Oak and Cheltenham while you're at it. The reason why I use these boundaries very literally is partially because they are the most accurate and secondly, I'm fascinated by em. The lived experience is subjective, as subjective as South City or Dutchtown or Downtown or Dogtown. Remember many suburbanites call the entire city downtown. And, the vast majority of St. Louis County residents think they are St. Louisans (born and raised), when indeed they are not. Wish they were, but they're not. Facts can be a bitch when they don't align with conventional wisdom. Maybe it's time for the city to relook at the neighborhoods. Do we really need a Kingsway East and West? No one even knows where those places are. The lived experience lumps them together as north city. Good point, Brian.

  3. In my experience, I was not able to vote more than once. When I returned to the page it remained on the "Thank you for voting" screen. So, give your write-in winners some credit. Dutchtown won because its residents love it in spite of its problems and are working hard to turn it around!

  4. cherokee street is a street, not a neighborhood. Like south grand is a street that some people refer to as a neighborhood. If you live around either of these places you know the name of your neighborhood, ie tower grove east or benton park west, and you know that county people will call it cherokee st or south grand, or this new thing were county people say "tower grove" for anything within a three mile radius of the park. I would hope if you actually live in these areas you can figure out the name of your neighborhood.