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Best Mile of St. Louis 

The (New?) Mississippi riverfront

Satellite photos identify the Best Mile of St. Louis. Viewed from above, regional development has evolved like an arrow, with its best at its point: the riverfront. Forces greater than our own have placed the length where it is. With the arrival of the Arch and accompanying national park 40 years ago, however, the riverfront was effectively reduced to a quarter-mile stretch of Arch grounds. The rest of the riverbank, sad to say, is a mess: When industry left, they forgot to clean up after themselves, neglected to plant meadows and lay jogging paths. But this year great strides have (finally) been made to reconcile the Lost Mile with the area that surrounds it. In May the Great Rivers Greenway District, in conjunction with a few civic partners, chose Balmori Associates, a New York-based landscape and urban-design firm, to develop plans for future redesign of the riverfront. The mere fact of the Balmori plan is a great first step, but a nice master plan does not a habitable riverfront make. That will take a huge injection of public faith -- and money. The plan is due in May 2006. In the meantime, enjoy the mile: Walk to the center of Eads Bridge, face westward and behold the potential.

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