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New episode of ‘We Live Here’ traces legacy of gated communities, street barriers in Gateway City

The history of the region’s closed streets comes into sharp focus in the latest episode of St. Louis Public Radio’s “We Live Here” podcast.
Tim Lloyd | St. Louis Public Radio
The history of the region’s closed streets comes into sharp focus in the latest episode of St. Louis Public Radio’s “We Live Here” podcast.";s:3:"u

Featuring everything from wrought-iron gates to concrete balls, restricted streets are a common characteristic in some St. Louis-area neighborhoods. That’s by design – and not just in an architectural sense.

“The first gated street in St. Louis was Benton Place, which is in Lafayette Square,” St. Louis Public Radio’s Tim Lloyd said Thursday in conversation with host Don Marsh on St. Louis on the Air. “It was built just after the Civil War … the wealthy elite in St. Louis were not happy with where they were living, mostly in the urban core at that time.”

They opted to build their own enclave, explained Lloyd, a co-host/producer of the We Live Here podcast which released its latest episode, “Closed Off in the Gateway City,” this week.

He noted that it wasn’t just physical barriers that appealed to the residents. The development also included deed restrictions about what could be built – and about who was and wasn’t allowed to live there.

Many similarly conceived community designs would crop up around St. Louis in the years that followed, and that history still has a substantive presence in the region today.

“It’s a tangled web of privilege and racism and policy all mixed together,” Lloyd said.

Over the course of the 25-minute episode of We Live Here, local preservationist Michael Allen joins Lloyd and co-host/producer Kameel Stanley on a unique journey around the region as they explore the topic.

“There’s no question that if you walk down, say, Benton Place, you’ll look at the homes and you’ll think, ‘Those are amazing.’ And they are,” Lloyd said. “They also reinforced something very ugly.”

Support for We Live Here comes from the Hammond Institute for Free Enterprise at Lindenwood University.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex HeuerEvie HemphillLara Hamdan and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.

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Evie is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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