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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Belmont and Johnson

The intersection of Belmont and Johnson in downtown St. Louis is long gone. Belmont Street ran east-west from 14th Street to 16th Street, between Clark and Spruce. Johnson Street ran north-south between Clark and Poplar, between 14th and 15th streets. The two streets were narrower than the primary arteries around them, and served the warehouses and other businesses that existed in this pocket of dowtown St. Louis near the railyards.

These streets disappeared over the years first as businesses expanded and then as surface parking took over the area. New railroad tracks into Union Station were built in the 1950s and obliterated the streets completely. The tracks ran below grade and created a wall that was compounded by the already-existing wall-like railyards to the south and Union Station train shed to the west. Today, this pocket of downtown is mostly parking lots, with the Drug Enforcement Agency and Veterans' Administration occupying buildings in the area built in the last 12 years. For years, this area was the preferred site for any number of plans for a new train station and other transportation portals. Now, the new multimodal transportation center will rise just south of the elevated section of I-64/40 that runs through here. This pocket will serve as a gateway and will sport a raised walkway between the MetroLink station on 14th Street and the multimodal center.

Back to the story: If you are standing at the site of the intersection today, you are probably on the MetroLink tracks. Stand clear!


Joe said...

It's funny, I was just thinking today how much different that slice of downtown is now than it was, say 20 years ago. I wasn't even aware of the history about the railroad tracks, although I think there was a baggage terminal for Union Station located roughly where the VA building is now. As you know, the MetroLink tunnel under Union Station was originally the baggage tunnel; and during the 1970s a motorcycle shop operated out of there.

Of course, The Jury Room tavern was the last remaining building on 14th Street, demolished in 1994 or '95 to make way for the Kiel Triangle Park.

Anonymous said...

City Police required jersey barriers along Clark, just west of 14th in order to prevent jaywalking to the sporting/entertainment venue fka Savvis.

Since the Gateway Foundation prefers funny-looking modern art (they chose that wascally Wabbit), I'm thinking they could disassemble and reuse Serra's Twain as sculpted barriers along Clark instead.