St. Louis Comes Back

Despite predictions that the city was dying, St. Louis has just won an "All-America City" award. Neal Peirce looks at how the city turned itself around.

"In a 1997 series for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, my Citistates Group co-author Curt Johnson and I arbitrarily picked 2010 as the year foreigners might come poking through the ruins of Washington Avenue. They'd be witnessing, we suggested, the tragic endpoint of the heedless flight of Americans from their once-proud cities."

"The good news is how wrong we were. Reel forward (or back!) to this June 6. The yearly competition for one of the National Civic League's coveted All-America City awards is taking place in Tampa, Fla. There's huge suspense -- which cities (out of 100 original entries) will a jury select to receive the awards?"

"St. Louis makes the cut, receiving its first All-America City award since 1956. And what's the top talking point St. Louis used to win? It's the downtown, focus of our dire warning of 1997."

"But St. Louis, for decades bedeviled by deep population losses and widely scattered suburban sprawl, also won its award by pointing to a stunning regional advance. It's the new River Ring project, which eventually will be a 600-mile web of 45 biking trails and greenways designed to encircle and connect the entire region -- a big 'green' advance and also a way to help metro St. Louis compete with other areas in environmentally friendly outdoor life."

Full Story: St. Louis: After 52 Years, 'All-America City' Again



Michael Lewyn's picture

A silly assumption

Just because a city gets an "All-America City" award does not mean that city is "coming back"; all it means is that the city is doing one or two things right.

In fact, if you look at the All-America City web page ( ) you discover that there are three cities that have won five times: one of them (Cleveland) has lost almost half its 1950 population. (The other two, Roanoke and Worcester, are somewhat more prosperous but hardly boomtowns).

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