It amazes me that the city of St. Louis, in the interest of maintaining the fragile political peace, is seemingly determined to destroy the unique and stable Dogtown area.
The latest travesty concerns the proposed redrawing of aldermanic district boundaries. The traditionally Irish neighborhood of Dogtown has just reached a point of cease-fire with its predominantly Italian neighbor, the Hill, in the 24th Ward. The alderman for that ward, Robert Ruggeri, has done yeoman work in uniting such a potentially volatile constituency.
Now, I see that Dogtown will again be further split, with part of the neighborhood remaining in the 24th Ward and the remainder gerrymandered into the 17th Ward. This is an unconscionable act.
One of the few neighborhoods with a historical claim to its name, Dogtown has been the target of the infamous city “neighborhood name squad,” (responsible for such romantic and appealing titles as Forest Park Southeast). This nefarious bureaucratic entity has seen fit to split Dogtown into the Clayton-Tamm and Hi-Pointe neighborhoods.
While our brothers and sisters in the legitimate Hi-Pointe area have fought long and hard to preserve their heritage, their neighborhood is not mine. I prefer to travel the three blocks to the revitalized Dogtown business district and patronize the many fine merchants and try the new restaurants.
Why contribute to the further dissolution of a neighborhood that is trying to remain vital and perhaps even grow? Is the city dedicated to homogenizing its remaining enclaves? If so, I will be moving to Webster Groves where they appreciate the unique qualities that a self-sufficient neighborhood can give.
Keep Dogtown within the boundaries of one ward. Its continued stability and growth are important to all of St. Louis. Continued political football with this wonderful gem will ultimately cause its demise, and it will join the rest of those crumbling areas that once made us suitable to serve as the background for the movie, “Escape From New York.”
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