Thursday, September 29, 2005

Strolling Along Lindell

Strolling Along Lindell

While it may not be the most human-scale street in town, a leisurely stroll along Lindell from Grand to Kingshighway is most appealing. That's what I did today, after a visit to the seemingly stuck in the 1950s Pius XII Memorial Library at Saint Louis University, where they always get confused looking up my record - am I at UMSL, or WashU?

With all the improvements made in recent years on the SLU campus, it's past time to fix up that library, especially its incredibly dreary front entryway. Nevertheless, they do have much better collections of books in certain areas than WashU Olin Library does. As great as the Internet is for many purposes, sometimes you still have to dig into the actual bound material for scholarly research.

As one prof has noted, the WashU Olin Library, with its fancy new Whispers Cafe, can be summed up by stating: "Great Coffee - No Books!"

In any event, I stopped for a quick lunch on Lindell after departing the Pius library, then continued my way west, noting a number of changes I've seen in the past 10 years or so of walking this street.

Although the section between Vandeventer and Boyle still seems a little rough in places, it nevertheless is clear that this is one of the major corridors of institutional power in St. Louis. You've got a curious mix of large institutional facilities, like the American Red Cross Blood Services Center and the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge; with large-scale and small-scale retailers, and even some residential apartments thrown in.

Of particular note is the shift in retail to this area, away from Grand and Olive. Probably 10 years ago, Mercantile Bank closed its Grand and Lindell location, which was bought by SLU, demolished, and replaced with the fountain there today. The branch was relocated to the NW corner of Lindell and Boyle. Likewise, sometime in the early 1990s, Walgreens closed its longtime store at the NE corner of Grand and Olive. They built a new, much less attractive store on the south side of Lindell at Whittier. In 2002 or so, Walgreens replaced that store with a new store next door, on the site of the former Cinerama - which itself had been used, for a time, by the infamous Moorish Science Temple organization.

Further west, of course, we find the seat of power of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, clustered mostly near Lindell and Newstead. Among the buildings are the Catholic Center, the Cathedral Basilica, and Rosati-Kain High School. The Archbishop's official residence is one block west, at Lindell and Taylor. Other smaller nearby buildings also are occupied by church-related agencies, although perhaps not as many as used to be. Some of the administrative offices of the Church have relocated to the former Kenrick Seminary campus in Shrewsbury off Laclede Station Road; now re-named the Cardinal Rigali Center.

Even near the Cathedral, though, other businesses still thrive. For example, a former funeral home has been transformed into a new (expensive) restaurant called Savor. The Fur Source recently relocated to this block, from Forest Park Southeast.

While there are a fair number of unattractive, suburban-style developments on this strip of Lindell that detract from its appeal, for the most part it is an extremely varied, urban corridor. Indeed, the fact that I could walk from the SLU Library westward to Euclid to catch the WashU shuttle makes the two schools seem not very far apart at all.

I just wish it wasn't such a long, uphill walk from the Grand MetroLink stop to the Pius Library. As a result, I took the Grand bus instead.

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