April 29, 2016
Terri Foster

American Studies Walks Explore Preservation, Landscape and Memory in Two Northside Neighborhoods

Guide Michael Allen discusses the history of North Fourteenth Street in Old North St. Louis during an American Studies department class walking tour on April 22. Submitted photo

                 

On April 22 and 23, more than 65 SLU undergraduates in the Department of American Studies class "The Urban Crisis" participated in three separate walking tours and discussions in the Old North St. Louis and St. Louis Place neighborhoods. Guided by local architectural historian and preservation consultant Michael Allen, the walks highlighted the ongoing evolution of the two neighborhoods' built environments, along with inhabitants' efforts to reshape their communities in the face of political and economic challenges.

The walks and conversations last weekend marked the sixth consecutive year that this American Studies course has featured the activity. Nearly 400 SLU students have participated during that span.

Sites visited include the recent Crown Square rehabilitation project on Old North's Fourteenth Street, new and old residential construction in St. Louis Place, various historic and contemporary worship spaces, the former location of the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex, and a staging area for protests by residents facing displacement from the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency facility. Throughout, Allen urged students to consider how policy decisions have altered local environments across past decades, and also how generations of residents have remembered and sought to mold the neighborhoods.

The trips built on several themes of the American Studies department's "Urban Crisis" class, which explores postwar U.S. urban history along with key social-justice questions facing contemporary cities and their inhabitants. The annual class event is cosponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of American Studies.

To learn more about the American Studies department, visit http://www.slu.edu/department-of-american-studies-home.

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