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Curious Louis

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If you’ve ever wondered where in the world the “natural bridge” in Natural Bridge Road comes from, you’re not alone. The answer is tied to Missouri's abundance of caves and the underground world of St. Louis.

It’s a question Joe Light, vice president of the Meramec Valley Grotto and member of the Missouri Speleological Survey, gets asked all the time. Several Curious Louis questioners have wondered the same thing.

St. Louis Outlet Mall
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

Erica Holliam used to love shopping at the St. Louis Outlet Mall, or what used to be called the Mills Mall.

That was before all of her favorite stores closed.

“This was my row,” she said pointing to a line of empty stores, tastefully hidden behind colorful curtains. “I used to shop at the Banana Republic and then on the other side there was another store. But obviously I can’t do that anymore.”

Curious Louis: How do newsrooms decide the news?

Jan 19, 2017

What makes something news? It’s a question journalists ask themselves every day.

Whether it’s a breaking story or a scheduled event, news editors and managers have to decide whether or not to cover it.

After months and months of election coverage, Don Crozier was frustrated by what he saw as sensationalism and bias in the media. He worried that news had become too focused on entertainment or shock in the hunt for clicks and shares.

Crozier wanted to learn more about how news directors make decisions, so he turned to St. Louis Public Radio’s Curious Louis.

Benton Park resident Alexis Forman didn't know what a flounder house was before she bought her rehabbed home four years ago.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

This is a re-posting of an article that originally published in Sept. 2016. It's part of a year-end celebration of some of our most popular work. 

Alexis Forman’s rehabbed Benton Park home has everything a typical house has: a living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms.

But every now and then, she’ll find strangers out on the street, staring up at the exterior of her brick house — and its dramatically sloping roof.

St. Louis Public Radio answered 42 of your Curious Louis questions this year and published 24 stories online and on the radio with answers.
Curious Louis

In late 2015, St. Louis Public Radio started a community engagement/storytelling project with the help of a web application called Hearken which connected St. Louisans with questions about the city with reporters ready to report on the answers. We called it Curious Louis.

Illustration by Susannah Lohr I St. Louis Public Radio

Meredith Anderson spent most of her life in Maryland before relocating to the Show Me State a couple of years ago. The O’Fallon resident got a surprising "welcome to Missouri" letter in the form of a personal property tax bill on her well-worn van.

Needless to say, Anderson was more than a little confused. She didn’t pay personal property taxes on her vehicle in her old state. And she didn’t get why you needed to pay such a tax in Missouri.

Stay Curious, St. Louis. You're winning awards.

Dec 22, 2016

It's been just over a year since we introduced Curious Louis — our reporting project where you ask the questions and we find the answers — to St. Louis.

Since then you've asked a lot of questions. But most importantly, we've answered a lot of questions, with your help. 

A view of the Trestle above I-70, just north of downtown St. Louis.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

Josie McDonald is “always looking for new walkable and bikeable destinations in the city.” She says she fell in love with St. Louis because of its road and bike path bike-ability.

But something’s been weighing on her mind for a while: a seeming bike path she just can’t bike. It goes by the name of “The Trestle” and you may have seen it as you drive on Interstate 70 north out of downtown St. Louis.

So, she asked Curious Louis to solve the mystery for her — so we have.

Dred Scott's grave is one of the most frequently visited graves at Calvary Cemetery. This photos was taken in November 2016.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Why aren’t Dred Scott and his wife buried in the same cemetery?

Pamela Richardson posed that question to Curious Louis recently after a visit to Calvary Cemetery in north St. Louis, where Dred Scott is buried.

“I wondered, ‘Is she not buried with him — and why not?’ I had been to Calvary many times. I had seen his place of rest, but her name was not on the tombstone,’’ said Richardson, who has family members buried at the cemetery.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Back in October, St. Louis Public Radio put a little non-political, unscientific poll in the field — which Curious Louis question should we answer next?

Stephanie Pasch, a Shaw resident, posed the winning question: I live near 39th Street. What happened to 24th through 38th? And where do 59th, 81st and 82nd come from?

Third-generation crane operator Tim Miller, 41, prepares to climb up a crane helping to build a new Barnes Hospital building.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

This is a re-posting of an article that originally published in June. 2016. It's part of a year-end celebration of some of our most popular work. 

 

There’s no shortage of tall yellow cranes helping build the largest construction projects in St. Louis this summer. One listener asked the Curious Louis project how the men and women who operate those cranes get to the top, and we answered.

A statue of Jesus and a lake greet visitors to  Lake Charles Park Cemetery on St. Charles Rock Road.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A few years ago, Betty Zweifel Eberley started tracing her family's history.

"I can't go back any further than 1816, my dad's great-grandfather," she told St. Louis Public Radio. "They came from Germany. I don't have a lot of stories to tell, but I have a lot of the pertinent information."

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

“Dogtown? How did it get its name?"

That was the query to Curious Louis from attorney Nathan Goldberg, who wondered about the colorful name of the historic St. Louis neighborhood located just south of Forest Park.

Curious Louis: In search of the perfect doughnut

Jun 3, 2016
Andwele Jolly best donut
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Andwele Jolly is a trained physical therapist, an administrator at Washington University’s School of Medicine and an all-around doughnut connoisseur. In high school he could eat 12 doughnuts in a sitting. (Good thing that he ran track at the time.) Jolly has lived on two continents and in numerous states and has sampled doughnuts throughout the land. He says St. Louis’ love for the deep-fried delicacy stands out.

Shaun Tamprateep of Fenton wants to explore St. Louis' cultural diversity. He studied Tourism and Hospitality in his father's home country of Thailand, and works as a driver for Metro Transit’s Call-A-Ride service.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Shaun Tamprateep grew up in Fenton, playing in the woods with a gang of neighborhood boys and sometimes landing at a friend’s house for dinner.

He noticed other families ate more hamburgers and fewer spicy dishes. But he didn’t pay much attention to the differences in his home — until he was almost a teenager.

I-64 W traffic highway
Paul Sableman | Flickr | http://bit.ly/1rzN9Hd

Since we launched the Curious Louis project last fall, we’ve received plenty of questions/musings/perplexed cries for answers regarding highways, byways and roadways in St. Louis. On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh got answers to some of them by convening a panel of three experts.

Representatives from St. Louis City, St. Louis County and the state (MoDOT) joined the show:

Jacob Norlund / Flickr

The following questions recently came into Curious Louis from someone who wanted to be anonymous: Why do we (St. Louis residents) pay our personal and real estate taxes directly to Gregory F.X. Daly and not a department? How does that compare to other cities?

Daly, the collector of revenue for St. Louis, receives the questions so frequently that his office has set up a webpage to explain.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The question came into Curious Louis from Joellen Pickens: “Why is West Florissant the eastern-most of the other Florissants?”

Pickens is not the first person to wonder about the multitude of Florissants. The St. Louis Star-Tribune tackled it in 1950.

A concerned Curious Louis community member, Dee, asked a great question about accountability:

 

Does Curious Louis need to get more sponsors so you can afford the resources needed to answer more of these questions?

Dee continues, "I really enjoy Curious Louis, but they seem to be struggling to keep up with the inquiries."

More resources? Who wouldn't turn down more resources? While more sustaining members to support our work is wonderful (donate here), sometimes our newsroom is just short on time.

 

 

Here's what we can do to keep you informed about the Curious Louis reporting process and what you can do to help it work better.

Mary Delach Leonard|St. Louis Public Radio

"Why does the Civil War still hold sway over St. Louis and Missouri?”

That was the intriguing — and very large — question that Steve Flick submitted to Curious Louis. “We just can't seem to be able to get beyond the Reconstruction Era in this state,” said Flick, a lifelong St. Louisan.

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