The Grove-1957: illustrating the challenges of Forest Park Southeast’s commerical district

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{photo courtesy of Larry Giles}

The above image was taken in 1957. You’re looking east at the corner of Manchester and Tower Grove Avenues. The corner storefront on the upper right (SE corner) is now Sweetie Pie’s. The corner storefront on the lower right (SW corner) was a pottery store and is close to reopening with multiple tenants. The NW corner now features a rehabbed restaurant space for lease. The NE corner is an Afro-centric book store, etc.

Several items stand out in this photo. In no particular order: The sidewalks are in terrible condition. The three-story building on the NW corner has long been orphaned. The neon street signs look great, but perhaps all of them shouldn’t make a return (the “Manchester” theater sign is the grand exception). The commercial district remains largely intact. They sold drugs on Manchester back then as well! And finally, granitoid streetlamps – these have been chosen as the streetlamps to be installed in the ~$2M Manchester streetscape renovation this coming year. You may not like them, but they do appear to have an historic precedent!

The question that his photo presents is as we look to restore, revitalize and redevelop Manchester Avenue, to what era are we returning the commercial district? 1910? 1930? 1957?

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