The Second Industrial Revolution occurred between 1870-1914. The City of St. Louis’ population peaked
in 1960 with 750,026 residents. Today, the population in St. Louis is 308,626. The decline in population
can be attributed to deindustrialization.
Cities like St. Louis were once densely populated, as people had to live within walking distance of work
and shopping. Perhaps that is exactly what we need again to solve our social/economic problems. We
need to create neighborhoods again in our cities. Companies need to move manufacturing back to the
city, creating jobs for the surrounding residents. Zoning needs to change to allow a shift of
manufacturing back into the city. Then surround these manufacturing/tech/warehouse jobs with
residential neighborhoods as well as schools, places of worship, shopping, and entertainment.
I was born in 1955. My grandmother lived in a shotgun flat in South St. Louis. Across the street was a
small grocery store – Paul’s Market. On the other corner was a bakery and a few blocks away was a
theater – The Melvin – as well as the neighborhood tavern, church, grade school, and a larger shopping
district, Cherokee Street.
The peddler brought fresh produce to our doorstep. Another man would stop by to sharpen grandma’s
knives, and the hot tamale man would pull his cart at night shouting “Get your red-hot hot tamales!” On
hot summer evenings, you would sleep with your doors and windows open. There was no fear of crime.
Gas, electric and water meters were manually read each month. Police call boxes were on street
corners, and the police walked the neighborhood. These neighborhoods created a community where
people looked out for each other. You lived, worked and shopped in your neighborhood.
However, as factories left to find cheaper wages in the southern USA or even out of the country to
Mexico, Asia and South America, the neighborhoods declined and businesses closed. As jobs in cities
disappeared, cities began to shrink. In the second half of the 20th century, the most rapidly growing
urban areas were those outside city limits.
At one time, St. Louis was the 2nd largest car manufacturing city in the country. From the late 19h
century until the end of World War II, St. Louis was second only to New York in garment manufacturing.
We need to bring these jobs back.
What I am proposing is the Third Industrial Revolution for our cities. Instead of giant industrial parks
with million-square-ft. warehouses, build a smaller manufacturing base, including tech jobs, in our
neighborhoods. These neighborhoods could be similar to what is currently happening in the Cortex
Today, there are more than 7,000 abandoned buildings in St. Louis. Paul McKee assembled 200 acres for
his NorthSide Regeneration Development, but failed to deliver. Would it not be great if Apple and or
other companies would move a plant from China to St Louis and new commercial and residential
development would be built around it?
We have the land to rebuild our neighborhoods as neighborhoods were built in the early 1900’s. One of
the benefits of bringing small factories back to our neighborhoods would be lower commute time. Take
some of the stress out of life; instead commuting to work, walk to work. The Census Bureau Reports
236,000 workers commute to work in St. Louis County. The average commute time was 23.1 minutes.
Between 1950 and 2000, St. Louis urban population grew 48% while urban (developed) land area grew
by more than 260%. Urban sprawl means longer commute times.
During the 1980’s, Congressman Jack Kemp introduced or co-sponsored several enterprise zone bills as
an anti-poverty measure. Kemp’s approach was to foster the creation or retention of small businesses
employing residents, avoid attracting existing business outside of the enterprise zone to promote
massive urban clearance and redevelopment. What we got instead was massive urban clearance and
blight without the redevelopment.
I believe Jack Kemp’s approach on creating enterprise zones would have worked then, but now the
damage is done and what we have left are abandoned homes, factories and vacant lots. We have to
build new neighborhoods from the ground up to save our cities.