Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #2. Forest Park Southeast

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

Forest Park Southeast is a neighborhood of contrasts.  The blocks north of Manchester look and feel very different from those south of it.  The area’s central business district, sort of an alternative to South Grand and Cherokee Street, seems perpetually half-revitalized (one of the street’s best known businesses, Sweetie Pie’s, just announced its closure).

To summarize why this is is a difficult thing to do, but I’d wager that the neighborhood will only remain this way for a short time longer.  As Central West End and Midtown to its north continue to attract new start-up investment, and Botanical Heights further matures to its east, FPSE has a good future outlook.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #3. Bevo Mill

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the south side’s most recognizable architectural feature would make it onto this list.  However, namesake aside, the Bevo Mill neighborhood is distinctive due to its cultural richness.  After all, the St. Louis area features the largest population of former Yugoslavic peoples outside of the Balkans, and this neighborhood is the local epicenter.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #4. The Hill

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

There are many things that draw visitors to the city of St. Louis, baseball, Forest Park, The Arch, but probably, the neighborhood most popular with out-of-towners (for what it uniquely offers as a neighborhood) is The Hill.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #5. Ferguson

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

Since August 9, 2014, Ferguson has been at the center of national attention.  “Ferguson” the idea/movement is undoubtedly the civil rights struggle of this generation, but for a mostly quaint community, that struggle has a long and complicated history – one that exemplifies what African-Americans have faced throughout the region from the start.

Yet, Ferguson is also a happy place.  A town on the border of St. Louis, where generations of families have lived.  A place which sees itself as worth saving; a place which sees this problem as worth solving.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #6. St. Louis Place

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

Depending upon your point of view, St. Louis Place is currently either the city’s most threatened neighborhood or the one most likely to save its economy.  Of course, the reason being is that this north side gem was selected as the new home of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (formerly located in the south side’s Kosciusko neighborhood); at issue here is that, although the NGA adds millions of much needed revenue dollars to the city’s coffers, it requires razing close to 75% of St. Louis Place via eminent domain for the space needed.  :0

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #7. The Ville

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

St. Louis’ The Ville neighborhood was once widely known as the Midwest’s center for “Black Aristocracy”, and for good reason.  After all, this is where the stories of such luminaries as Annie Malone, Arthur Ashe, and Chuck Berry all intersect.  That legacy, though veiled in urban decay and abandonment, still exists there; my visit with Photo Flood Saint Louis felt often like I was walking a path, well worn and registered, where the present may not much resemble the past nor (hopefully) the future.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #8. Downtown

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

The Downtown neighborhood is every bit the soul of the St. Louis region.  It encapsulates the city’s origins, and includes its best known testaments to culture, business, government, and society.  The world’s first skyscraper, the once longest arch bridge in the world, and the world’s tallest monument live here.  Our relationship to the mighty Mississippi River is embodied here.

With all of that considered, it is no wonder that I began Photo Flood Saint Louis with a visit Downtown, and for the first two anniversaries of the group, we returned there.  These images come from our second venture into the neighborhood; one year after founding.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #9. JeffVanderLou

Posted in art, awareness, Jason Gray, links, photography, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on July 8, 2016

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

JeffVanderLou is a neighborhood that is pretty impossible to forget (even if it seems our region may have).  It is both a place of remarkable achievements and of tragedies, where some of St. Louis’ proudest sons and daughters have walked and also where they have fallen.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #10. The Patch

Posted in art, awareness, Jason Gray, links, manual focus, Photo Walk, photography, technique, Uncategorized, winter by Jason Gray on July 6, 2016

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In August, Photo Flood Saint Louis will celebrate the completion of its fourth year covering the “Lion of the Valley” and all of its wonderful idiosyncrasies.  For me, it is hard to believe this much time has passed since I originally invited a small group of five photographers out into Downtown for Photo Flood 1.  We’ve now grown into a dynamic organization of more than 300, some of who are regulars, some of who are once-in-a-whiles, some of who have never come out for a Flood but stick around for the networking opportunities, and have been partner to several of the city’s best known annual events, cultural institutions, and civic ceremonies.

Even so, four years in and we are only about halfway done with documenting all of the city’s neighborhoods (we are scheduled through 2021).  To celebrate, I am going to post some of my images from my ten favorite Photo Floods, beginning with number ten, The Patch.  I hope you enjoy!

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Interlude: Happy B-Day, Forest Park!

Posted in art, Jason Gray, learning, links, photography, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on June 24, 2016

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Image 1.

Today, one of St. Louis’ most beloved attractions turns 140 years old.  However, when we celebrate the origin of Forest Park, we should also celebrate the beginnings of O’Fallon Park and Carondelet Park because it was only with a promise to build the other two that St. Louis residents agreed to pass the ballot measure necessary to build the city’s now preeminent greenspace.

I’ve written pretty extensively about all three parks for Photo Flood Saint Louis (click links above), so instead of rehashing the parks’ histories, I thought that it would be more fun to challenge how well my STL readers know each one.  In the comments below, challenge yourself, and identify which park goes with which image (ie. Image 1=xxxx Park).  Now, let’s see how well you know your city parks….

*Answer key in comments.

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