The State of St. Louis
I lived in St. Louis, well St. Charles, for about 11 years. It looked booty when I got here, and it still looks booty now. I’m sure there are other words to describe the city better such as a waste of potential, sad, disappointing, bottom of the barrel, and neglected, but booty is very fitting. It has the same standing as the booty part of a loaf of bread (for those who don’t know, it is the first and last slices of bread).
I know it sounds harsh, but it comes from a place of love. St. Louis has so much potential to be great. I would love for it to be a L.A., New York, or a New Orleans. I want it to be the social and cultural hub of the Midwest. I want people to travel here for reasons other than visiting family. Yes, we have the arch, but it’s not enough. I was blessed with many opportunities to travel across the world. I’ve visited cities in Germany and Holland, I’ve been to Cairo, London, Paris, Amsterdam, and more. St. Louis falls flat compared to the other cities even though it has the potential to be better or even greater than those cities, but in my opinion, it has not been led well or given the love and care it desperately needs. I don’t want to have to constantly avoid potholes when I drive down there, see hundreds of abandoned buildings, or worry about my safety. I want St. Louis to show me a reason why I should have pride living here.
I was curious to see if others shared the same sentiment as me, and what other person would be better to interview than my mother, Bridgett Thomas. She is a St. Louis native and due to her military stats, has also traveled/lived across the country and the world. She has seen amazing cities, bad cities, pretty cities, dirty cities, unsafe cities, and friendly cities. With her experience, I reckoned she would have the best opinions about St. Louis.
Ciera Thomas: “What does St. Louis mean to you?”
Bridgett Thomas: “It means home. Growing up in the city. School, friends, good memories.”
Ciera Thomas: How does St. Louis now compare to how it was when you were younger?
Bridgett Thomas: “It’s a whole different environment being grown and having my own children compared to being a child, teen, and young adult. They’ve made a lot of changes. The city is rebuilding, opening up to more tourism, I’ve noticed that black people have spread out to more areas—in Missouri period. There are a lot of new things going on and a lot of old things that are no longer there. There are certain restaurants that I used to frequent that are no longer there, shopping centers that are no longer there, and new places that I haven’t gone to. New stadiums, new convention centers—the roads are still raggedy, still a lot of vacant homes and stuff. I would’ve thought that—there is a lot of new buildings but there are still a lot of dated and dilapidated buildings. It’s good to see that they are putting more money into tourism, but hopefully they can take some of that money and build better homes. Hopefully, this infrastructure bill will help the city make new improvements, more new homes, more recreation centers, more places for people to socialize. Things that will make St. Louis feel like it’s the place to be.”
Ciera Thomas: “What do you love the most about St. Louis?”
Bridgett Thomas: “Family is here, that’s one thing. I love that my family is close to me now. I previously lived in Germany with my kids for about 3 years, so coming back and being near my family makes it feel like home. I also love that downtown St. Louis is being developed.”
Ciera Thomas: “What do you hate the most about St. Louis?”
Bridgett Thomas: “I hate that we lost money now that we no longer have a football team, but a stadium. There are better ways to spend money in St. Louis, but it’s not happening. The crime. Redlining. Those areas don’t get a lot of funding and money for school and improvement. I would love to see more of the northside area, which has some really beautiful homes, be kept up and given loans to be improved, and the vacant houses be fixed up.”
Ciera Thomas: “How do you feel about the state of St. Louis?”
Bridgett Thomas: “St. Louis is stupid. They spend millions of dollars on a trolly that’s just sitting there gathering dust right now. Spend millions on a stadium when we can’t even keep a team in the city. We got crumbling roads. People dying on bridges from accidents because the bridges aren’t stable enough. But we go spend money on stupid things. Yeah, I like nice things like that, nice stadiums, the trolly was…well. But let’s think about this. Let’s use common sense and think about the people and not just the investors or people that just want to make money off of them. We need to do something different for once and a while. Build this city up. Make it pretty. Make it safe.”
Ciera Thomas: “What do you want to change about St. Louis?”
Bridgett Thomas: “The conservative attitudes. I’m kind of conservative myself, but there are just some things that it seems like there is no give and take to certain people. Change the mindsets of policy makers, powerholders, and political leaders of the city. Change their outlook on black people. I want racial equity, and fairness within the system. It would also be nice to see more disabled accessible places. More park benches that are closer, better sidewalks for wheelchairs, more ramps, more handicap parking spots that are actually close to the building, anything that makes getting around easier and enjoyable. Police brutality is also a problem. I haven’t heard anything happen here lately, but I know it’s still alive and well.”
Ciera Thomas: “What are some things we can do to better St. Louis?”
Bridgett Thomas: “We need people that care about the people. Politicians obviously don’t care because they haven’t done anything for us in a long time. It’s been basically for their gain. Not for our gain. We vote for these people cause they tell us all this good stuff that we want to hear when we know good and well that we’re not gonna get it cause it’s all a dream, it’s all talk. They’re not gonna do anything to change anything because they can’t. It takes more than just one person to make the types of changes we need in this city. That one person is not gonna be able to do it without the help of other people, especially people with money because those people could really care less unless they can make some money off these changes. If it’s just change for the
people, there’s no value for people with the money and the influence and the ability to make St. Louis better.”
Ciera Thomas: “What do you think St. Louis will look like in the next 20 years?”
Bridgett Thomas: “I hope there’s more improvement to housing in the city, better homes. Improvements to the infrastructure. More routes for the Amtrack.”
Ciera Thomas: “Do you have hope for St. Louis?”
Bridgett Thomas: “I have plenty of hope.”