Sunday, January 18, 2009

Washington Avenue revisited

It's been several months in the making: the Washington Avenue tour is now completely revitalized and up to date.

Washington Avenue ?

So much has happened on the Avenue, and my own standards for page and image format have risen so much, that a complete revamp was the only option. I've re-scanned all the old photographs, in many cases setting them alongside new ones taken on my most recent St. Louis trip or in the intervening years. Huge amounts of information about many of these buildings is now available online, and I've pulled some of that together as well. I even snuck in the Tudor Building, which featured on a very early version of Built St. Louis but had since fallen off the radar.

Washington Avenue

The transformations are amazing. Dingy, battered storefronts have been reworked all up and down the Avenue. Dirty facades have been cleaned and repaired. The 2004 streetscape improvements have transformed the area's vibe.

Levin's by night

The last fragments of the street's old life, its gritty urban and garment district days, are fading away. Of all the storefront operations visible from the street, only a handful predate the 1990s (Levin's, Levine Hat Company, Mankofsky Shoe Company, possibly the relocated Erlich's Cleaners). Most are less than five years old, and almost none of the businesses I photographed in 2001 remain today.

Washington Avenue neon

But the new generation of businesses has brought new life to the street, people and light, neon signs and sidewalk dining. Rising from its threadbare state of ten years ago, Washington Avenue has become the most urbane street in St. Louis.

1 comment:

howardpark said...

Your great work shows how much progress really has been made on Washington Ave., your site is so good because it shows both sides of preservation in St. Louis.