Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City


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Once a thriving metropolis on the banks of the Mississippi, St. Louis, Missouri, is now a ghostly landscape of vacant houses, boarded-up storefronts, and abandoned factories. The Gateway City is, by any measure, one of the most depopulated, deindustrialized, and deeply segregated examples of American urban decay. "Not a typical city," as one observer noted in the late 1970s, "but, like a Eugene O'Neill play, it shows a general condition in a stark and dramatic form." Mapping Decline examines the causes and consequences of ...

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naomi b

Sep 9, 2012

St. Louis' decline metaphor for other cities

"This careful analysis of the factors that have led to the decline of
St. Louis, a once-thriving city, needs to be read by urban planners
everywhere. It came to my attention after watching the film, "The
Pruitt-Igoe Myth," about that city's ineptness around public housing.

Colin Gordon has put together census data, archival sources, case law,
local records along with GIS mapping (used as illustrations) to make his
case. The hubris of urban renewal and the real estate interests that
supported it are presented in straightforward prose --less emotional
than what I write here since I had a personal connection to mid-20th
century St. Louis as it declined."

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