Wrecked Like New York
(St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Aug 27/1980/US) By Fred Blumenthal
St. Louis feels complimented that Slam Dunk Productions is
filming a movie here. The city appreciates the reflected glory of visiting
celebrities and the patronage the film crew brings to local businesses.
Slam Dunk's presence has an additional value. One might ask "Why St. Louis?" The
answer is a left-handed compliment: St. Louis looked to Slam Dunk's professional
eye like Manhattan Island after being overrun by penitentiary inmates. Midtown
makes the ideal setting for Escape From New York - not even South Bronx
looks as much like a devastated New York.
This estimate of St. Louis' aesthetic value demonstrates that St. Louis real
estate and city planning have been handled ineptly since the construction of the
old city in the 19th century. Those acres of vacant lots and boarded-buildings
are like a valuable oil painting left out in the rain. Why have specimens of
such architectural beauty been allowed to rot, why does the city look like
Manhattan after devastation?
One answer is that business and light industry have moved into residential
neighborhoods, creating a progressively less and less desirable area. Another is
that city government has been disciplined to stop abandonment of real estate,
and third is that the city has practically encouraged razing of buildings in the
path of the late North-South Distributor Highway, including the site of some of
the filming of Escape From New York.
Slam Dunk's left-handed complement can be turned to advantage. We can see it as
an indication that the city should encourage more consistent planning of
neighborhoods, begin developing the real estate formerly in the path of the
highway, and discontinue allowing light industry to encroach on residential