December 25, 2007
Christmas Creepin' I: Subterranean Tucker
Tipped off by a blog posting at urbanreviewstl.com and irritated by the sudden loss of the Venice High School as a travel spot - more on that tomorrow - a couple of us headed to the subterranean neighborhood under Tucker Boulevard for Christmas. Now closed to through traffic, the above-ground section of Tucker, near St. Patrick's Center and the Post-Dispatch, offers not a lot to look at: a McDonald's, the City's vermin control facility and the Greyhound bus station. An area not exactly in the tourist manuals.
Under Tucker, though... that's a different story. Also not part of the RCGA guides, we're certain, the tunnels under Tucker offer a bizarre group of odd sights - and, occasionally, sounds.
Directly under the Post-Dispatch, for example, is a Hooverville. If you were to scale a 20-foot wall of dirt, you'd find a homeless encampment of some size. Though, truth be told, there's a wide variety of smaller shanties, mattresses and box houses. So the next time the P-D editorializes about homelessness, remember that they have the community living six floors under the computer used for the piece. How about that?
Down there, former entry points into the P-D building are found lit by quirky, orange lights.
Also there: a huge pile of books, including a nearly a dozen copies of the STL classic "Hoodlum's Priest."
Maybe you'd be surprised to find a noose, hanging about seven-feet above the ground?
Or a wall of graffiti dedicated to the 2006 World Series champion Cardinals?
All along the walking route, easily accessible via Cass, or several, other, less-hospitable point-of-entry (which we took, initially), you'd come across the usual run of debris left by the homeless, along with the accompanying spate of graffiti, frequently found in such places. And you'd understand why the City needed to shut this area down, with generations of different attempts at stabilization running the gamut from complete to half-assed.
What struck us most of all, though, was the notion that if the P-D wanted to do an interesting piece on the homeless crisis or the underground STL that many of find fairly interesting, the staff photographers just need to go into the basement in crack the sliding doors. It's right there.
In the meantime, check stlstreets.com in the near future.
Or punch up some pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/51252573@N00/.