Mini-Flood 69: Pestalozzi Street

photo by Sue Rakers

On this street walk, we are exploring Pestalozzi as it runs west through the heart of the Benton Park neighborhood, over I-55, and through the Anheuser-Busch brewery in south Soulard, where it is now a private street within the brewery compound, and terminates just before it intersects with South Broadway.  This walk was intentionally timed to coincide with the spectacular holiday lighting on the trees and buildings lining the street within the gates of the brewery.

photo by Mike Matney

photo by Sue Donovan

photo by Mike Matney

photo by Joe Harrison

Benton Park was named after Thomas Hart Benton, the first U.S. Senator to represent the people of Missouri.  The neighborhood prospered with the rise of nearby breweries, and suffered during prohibition.  During the post-war decline of the city, it did not become as derelict as some other neighborhoods.  Revitalization began in the 70’s and was aided by the re-purposing of Cherokee Street in the 80’s.  Benton Park was covered well in our 14th flood, please see the article:  http://www.photofloodstl.org/photo-flood-14-benton-park/.

photo by Sue Donovan

photo by Carol Sluzevich

photo by Carol Sluzevich

It was unseasonably cold when we visited in late November so the street was quiet, but still, we encountered a several pedestrians on our walk, and all were friendly.  Benton Park seems like a great place to live, and crime is relatively low.  It is mostly residential, with an eclectic mix of small businesses.  Perhaps none more eclectic than the must-see Venice Café.  Which by the way is a bar not a restaurant, so bring your thirst, not your appetite.  This business is 30 years old, and the beautiful building dates to 1892.  In fact, there is a lot of great architecture in this area.  Like many other neighborhoods in this originally French city, a wave of German craftsmen settled here and left their mark before they eventually dispersed westward.

photo by Mike Matney

photo by Bailey Elizabeth Rogers

photo by Jen Smith

photo by Sue Rakers

photo by Bailey Elizabeth Rogers

Pestalozzi Street – named after the highly influential Swiss educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (1746-1827) – continues over Interstate 55 (pictured above), the construction of which demolished part of the neighborhood.  The interstate system by the way is officially named “The Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways.”  It was initiated early in the cold war and partially justified on the grounds of national defense:  It was believed that the system would facilitate troop movements in the event of invasion, and that city dwellers would need quick escape routes into the countryside in the event of a nuclear attack.  Perhaps this helps to explain why the system was implemented so hastily with little consideration of its impact on the fabric of urban landscapes across the nation. St Louis was hit hard in this respect (and we will return to this topic in some of the future street walks).  Other cities had some success in cancelling or minimizing invasive construction projects.  For example, there was a high-profile battle over the proposed I-310 freeway which, incredibly, would have cut through the 300-year-old French Quarter of New Orleans, a cultural gem as well as a major tourist attraction.

photo by Sue Rakers

On the other side of the freeway overpass is Soulard, the subject of our 3rd flood (http://www.photofloodstl.org/photo-flood-3-soulard/).  But we did not really see Soulard as a neighborhood because the remainder of Pestalozzi bisects the brewery compound, which opened in 1852 and is a National Historic Landmark District.  The firm would build an additional 12 breweries across the country between 1951 and 1993.

photo by Irene Griggs

photo by Vivian Nieuwsma

photo by Irene Griggs

photo by Jackie Johnson

photo by Jackie Johnson

photo by Jen Smith

At the end of our walk, many of us gathered for dinner (and a few brewery products) at the Anheuser-Busch Biergarten.  The service, the food and the drinks were excellent, and it was a great way to conclude the evening.

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