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

Hanging with the UP in South City

It was a chilly, Fall day today. My buddy Isaac Richardson (@skiye30 on Insta) and I decided to take advantage, and go for a short stomp through several South City neighborhoods that hug the Union Pacific Railroad not far from my house.  We started in Holly Hills, headed quickly up into the Bevo Mill neighborhood, and then came back through Dutchtown. As in other areas of where buildings spring up around some manner of infrastructure, the mostly industrial-themed path we took undulated along the winding railway.

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Interlude: Alton, Illinois

Alton, Illinois is one of the weirdest cities in the United States (for those friends of mine who live there, that is the highest form of compliment).  Alton is a river town, and its fortunes rise and fall with the river.  See that red line on the white building in the background of the photo above?  That is the mark for the Great Flood of 1993, and the black band below it denotes a 1973 flooding event.

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Photo Flood 18*: Mt. Pleasant

Posted in Adventure, art, Interlude, Jason Gray, manual focus, Photo Walk, photography by Jason Gray on June 19, 2017

Photo Flood Saint Louis is an organization that I created almost five years ago for photographers in St. Louis.  PFSTL offers great opportunities to network, share images, learn from more experienced shooters, and more, but mostly, it tells the story of the city, neighborhood by neighborhood.  In fact, every month we visit a new neighborhood, meet new people, visit new businesses, and show the world (or at least the internet) what makes St. Louis a dynamic place to live, warts and all.

As organizer, I rarely miss an event, but it has happened.  Over the years, I missed out on covering the southside neighborhoods of Mt. Pleasant and Tiffany.  This post is about me finally getting a chance to walk around one of them.

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Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #1. Dutchtown

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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.

Dutchtown, named after a mispronunciation of “deutsch”, is St. Louis’ most populated neighborhood, and equally one of the city’s most threatened and potential-rich.

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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, #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: CityArchRiver Portraits

Posted in art, F-Stop Gear, Jason Gray, links, perception, Photo Walk, photography, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on June 6, 2016

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On Thursday, June 2, the newly renovated Leonore K. Sullivan Boulevard (named for the consumer advocate and first Missouri woman to enter Congress) was reopened to the public.  This warf road parallels both the Gateway Arch and Mississippi Rivers, and has been closed for some time as work on the redesigned arch grounds is ongoing.

Thursday’s event, a partnership between CityArchRiver (agency overseeing the redesign) and Great Rivers Greenway (a bi-state effort to envelope the St. Louis Metropolitan area with accessible bike paths), featured a 2016 foot long picnic table, live music, food trucks, fireworks, and more.  I was there with Photo Flood Saint Louis, which was invited by the organizers to cover the event.

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