Support Local Journalism. Join Riverfront Times Press Club.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Photos: Can Melvin White Save Dr. Martin Luther King Drive?

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 8:45 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY THEO WELLING
  • Photo by Theo Welling

This week's Riverfront Times feature story focuses on efforts to revive Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in north city St. Louis. The street is a bleak seven mile stretch of shuttered businesses, trash-strewn vacant lots and rampant poverty, but one man -- a maverick postal worker named Melvin White -- thinks he can reverse the decades of decline.

The headquarters of White's organization, Beloved Streets of America, sits on one of the roughest corners on the whole street, Hamilton Avenue and MLK Drive. RFT sent photographer Theo Welling there to visually document White's struggle, as well the businesses and residents who still call this street home.

Read the full story, "He Has a Dream," here.

click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling

This funky-looking building used to be the J.C. Penney department store, back when the neighborhood served as the anchor of a thriving, miles-long retail corridor. The store closed in 1976 and the building has been empty ever since. The building's owner, however, agreed last month to allow Beloved Streets of America to design a hydroponic vegetable garden that, some day, could fill the structure's vast interior with fresh greens and new jobs.

Continue for more photos of MLK Drive.

click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling

Though it looks like it may topple any moment, this building actually contains a burger restaurant. During the first half of the 20th century it was the Wellston terminal for the city's streetcar line. Those lines were eliminated in the '60s in lieu of the current bus system.

click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling

Melvin White and his partners at BSA are planning to turn this long-vacant lot into "Legacy Park," which they hope will become the catalyst of a community revival in the area.

click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling

White, the man in purple, pitches to a steady stream of non-profits and volunteer groups already active in north city. For more info on BSA and its mission, check out its website.

click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling
click to enlarge THEO WELLING
  • Theo Welling

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com

Tags: ,

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.

Read the Digital Print Issue

December 1, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In St. Louis

© 2021 Riverfront Times

Website powered by Foundation