Groth Guide to Riverview

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Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STLRiverview is the northernmost St. Louis neighborhood that extends 1/3 mile north of I-270 and is bound by St. Charles Rock Road to the south (although Maline Creek and the big flood gates might be easier to recognize), city limits to the west (pretty much just a matter of yards west of Riverview Drive) and the Mississippi River to the east.

The 2000 census data counted 237 residents (down 28% from 1990’s count) of whom 43% were black, 53% white and 4% Asian. There were a mere 98 housing units counted, 92% occupied (79%/21% owner/renter split). And this is one of the few neighborhoods to actually gains residents in the 2010 Census count. There are now 304 people calling Riverview home!

This is a unique place in St. Louis: it’s shape, its topography, etc. It’s really just a narrow sliver of land wedged between the St. Louis County cities of Glasgow Village, Riverview (the Village) and Bellefontaine Neighbors and of course the mighty Mississippi River. There’s a lot going on in this little neighborhood of St. Louis.

One thing to point out would be the presences of the 11 mile Riverfront Trail that splits Riverview Drive and the river. The trail markers and sites can be seen throughout Riverview:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Also, the neighborhood is a short walk from the Columbia Bottom Conservation Area and the Edward ‘Ted’ and Pat Jones Confluence Point State Park. For you ornithologists and nature lovers, I can vouch for this spot as a great bird watching destination, nice and close to the city. Eagle Days is always a big hit:

I really think the entire state of Missouri is naturally beautiful. Rivers and bluffs and forests and mountains, streams and prairies, its a beautiful place. Riverview, more than any of the other 78 neighborhoods of St. Louis has a distinct connection to natural Missouri. And that to me is what really sets Riverview apart.

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Another curiosity of Riverview is Cementland that lies just west of Riverview Blvd. This is a project of Bob Cassilly the amazingly creative and driven man behind the City Museum. It still appears to be years away from opening, but Bob has become notorious for getting things done on site with the…let’s say complete and full knowledge and permits of all overseeing authorities. Get it done! I didn’t go in to explore, but you can view this video by Evan Mueller here to get an up close view. There is a conversation on the project on the nextSTL Forum. And here’s what the modern-day mound city looked like to me today near and around the perimeter:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

The site can often be seen when flying into to St. Louis from the east. Here’s a aerial image from Google Maps:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

The handful of homes in Riverview are built up high to prevent flooding from the river. Some are built right into the bluffs and make for a quiet and private setting:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

There is a huge Home Depot distribution facility just west of Riverview Blvd and a massive water treatment plant along the river, the biggest in St. Louis, and once the biggest water facility in the world:

The Chain of Rocks had been chosen as a site for St. Louis waterworks by James Kirkwood in 1865. However, Kirkwood’s plan was initially rejected, and construction on the Chain of Rocks Plant did not begin until 1887. It opened in 1894. The designer of Chain of Rocks was Minard Holman, who functioned as the first chief engineer of the plant and later became the city’s Water Commissioner. Chain of Rocks was originally built as a low service pumping facility in which water was taken from single channel intake in the Mississippi to low service steam pumps, and finally into a series of sedimentation basins. After the muddy sediment settled to the bottom of the basins, the water flowed by gravity through an aqueduct to the high service station at Bissells Point, seven and a half miles toward the center of the city. From this point the water was distributed throughout the piping system and to consumers throughout the city.

Since its initial construction, Chain of Rocks has gone through constant additions and modifications. The Chain of Rocks Plant was the first large water treatment facility to use lime softening and ferrous sulfate in the water purification process. The Chain of Rocks filter plant was built in 1915, and was realized to be the largest filter plant in the world at the time of its construction. It contains 40 filters and stretches 700 feet in length. High service pumping facilities were built in 1957 as a result of plans to close the Bissells Point Plant. This addition allowed Chain of Rocks to function as an independent facility, and was no longer dependent on another plant to distribute its water. In 1958, the self-contained steam power at Chain of Rocks was replaced by an electric system. A new Coagulant House, able to safely store all chemical additives, was built in 1960.

Just like nearly every St. Louis neighborhood, there is a park. This one just feet from the river. A bandstand and BBQ was being set up at the time of my visit:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

As a 17 year St. Louisian, I need to go fishing in the Miss. This is part of my personal rite of passage toward being a bona-fide citizen; pulling a big ugly catfish out of the Mississippi just seems cool and fun (how Mark Twain is that?). There are MANY fishermen along the river in this part of the city.

On to my favorite point of interest in Riverview, the hulking Chain of Rocks Bridge, a site certainly worth visiting. The bridge was privately built in 1929 as a toll bridge. It became part of Route 66 in 1936 and was used until 1968. The ultimate demise of the bridge was the construction of the free I-270 bridge just north of the Chain of Rocks bridge in 1966. The bridge was slated for demolition in 1975, but the low price of scrap metal at the time made it non-profitable. Whew! In 1998 the bridge was leased out to Trailnet and is now a pedestrian/cyclist bridge and monument to Route 66. It was used in the filming of the 1981 film “Escape From New York”. The bridge is actually owned by the city of Madison, Illinois. Bear with me while I reminisce of my childhood erector set dreams and the feats of man:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

The two water intake towers built in 1894 (West) and 1915 (East) are amazing:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

The towers were recently made the cover image of American City: St. Louis Architecture: Three Centuries of Classic Design.

Here’s a view of the intake towers with the water treatment facility in the background (there’s a 7 foot pipe that channeled water to the facility):

Riverview neighborhood - STL

What the? Is that a… Yes, the bridge has a 22-degree bend in the middle, which was the site of many car crashes:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Today the steel is weathered and cool looking, the deck has some great/sad/hilarious grafitti.

Riverview neighborhood - STL

I too am content Ms. Gay.

Here’s my personal take on the beauty of aging and oxidation:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

The toll building on the St. Louis side has been demolished. Here’s what it looked like back in the day:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Since the bridge was unused for 30 years in the hard rocking days of the late 60’s and 70’s, I surmise that many shaggy, mullet-having real rockers would party on the bridge and listen to the then powerful and amazingly influential K-SHE 95. I can hear Moxy songs in the back of my mind. Here’s some evidence of the real-rockers presence:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Trailnet has taken to plaques and other momentos as fund raisers including these plaques that adorn the side rails of the bridge. Many of them are quite touching and inspirational:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

This bridge (along with the Eads bridge) provides amazing views of downtown about 11 miles south:

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview is all about the Mighty Miss. It’s power is stunning. The swirling, massive current is a testament to the strength and determination of the City, the bridges, the water intakes and shorelines of the biggest river in North America.

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

Riverview neighborhood - STL

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