St. Louis’s designation as an All-American City by the National Civic League received inside-the-Saturday-tabloid treatment in the local daily newspaper, but it still caught the attention of our one-time harshest critic, syndicated newspaper columnist and author Neal Peirce.
As Peirce told his national audience today:
Eleven years ago, Washington Avenue in St. Louis was declining rapidly, the downtown prospects grim. And the rest of the St. Louis region didn’t seem to care.
So in a 1997 series for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, my co-author Curt Johnson and I arbitrarily picked 2010 as the year foreigners might come poking through the ruins of Washington Avenue. They’d be witnessing, we suggested, the tragic end point of the heedless flight of Americans from their once-proud cities.
The good news is how wrong we were.
Peirce has plenty of good things to say about the winning elements of our presentation — a strongly revitalized downtown; a growing urban ring of parks, trails, and green space; and a vibrant arts program that taps into the region’s strong cultural diversity and notes that St. Louis was the only winning region
He concludes with an observation that we need to incorporate into more civic decisions: it takes a whole region —— cities and suburbs working as a team —— to produce the most glowing results.