The photos are from Built St. Louis's blog, and specifically the devastating, heartbreaking, galvanizing "Daily Dose of Blairmont" series, in which 23 and counting daily posts of photos and text tell the story plainly and bluntly in the absence of the most minimal iota of civic leadership that would have already addressed the historic preservation, poverty, forced gentrification, top-down and secretive planning issues involved with Blairmont's urban "slash and burn" on St. Louis's Near North Side.
After August 29, 2005, nearly all topics in New Orleans are divided into the two categories of "Pre-Katrina" or "Post-Katrina," "pre-storm" or "post-storm". Katrina was a natural disaster, an "act of God" as it is often termed. Blairmont is an act of failed leadership, of reprehensible disrespect to an irreplaceable urban neighborhood, to its already destitute denizens, to its already rapidly fizzling history and heritage. Blairmont is a disaster not simply "avoidable"--it is a crime (nuisance laws, property code) and its insidiousness and malevolence is perhaps unprecedented in all the history of misguided or absent planning to which St. Louis claims an all too clearcut association. In short, it should have never been allowed. The first inklings of the scheme should have attracted City Hall's scrutiny; so far, all the Mayor's Office has done is encourage McKee's quite literal blockbusting.
I fear for the post-Blairmont city, a disaster in slow motion, but, sadly, one as monstrously inexorable. As we observe the landscape in the wake of its devastation, how sorely will we regret it?
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I'm a 24 year old planning student finishing up my master's at the University of New Orleans. I love my hometown and care deeply for it--which is why I continue to maintain this blog despite considerable physical distance between me and my city.
Circumstances have me in Baltimore now.
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