Monday, November 22, 2010


"St. Louis overtook Camden, N.J., as the nation's most dangerous city in 2009, according to a national study released Sunday.

The study by CQ Press found St. Louis had 2,070.1 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, compared with a national average of 429.4. That helped St. Louis beat out Camden, which topped last year's list and was the most dangerous city for 2003 and 2004."
STL Today

I don't know how much credence to place in numbers like these. It seems that stats are manipulated so badly anymore that none of them can be trusted.

Parts of St. Louis are dangerous, others not. That's true of most urban areas. As someone that has lived in or near St. Louis for my entire life I will say that it has become increasingly more dangerous throughout the entire city. Neighborhoods that I used to walk around by myself when I was a little kid are now the scene of nightly mention for shootings on the news. The places my extended family lived have become war zones.

My dad grew up in North St. Louis and my mom on the South Side. When I was a kid the North Side was already rough but the South was still pretty much the same as it had always been, mostly German and Italian working class families that had lived in the same neighborhoods for generations. Now, the whole city has hit hard times as the jobs have disappeared and most of those that could have moved to the County.

St. Louis is different than most places because it's basically an island surrounded by a county that it doesn't belong to. The city and county separated over 100 years ago because the city thought that the county would be a drag on it due to it's rural nature. By doing this the city put a limit on its ability to grow because it has the Mississippi on it eastern border and is surrounded by the county on every other. Over time the county expanded while the city gradually lost businesses and citizens to it.

The city has also suffered from years and years of Democrat control of its government. Like most other urban areas it's been run like a little Marxist fiefdom with all kinds of taxes and controls. The problem for St. Louis has been that the people had an option in the county and a good many of them took it. Businesses went to the county because they had room to expand and the taxes and regulations were way less burdensome. The people followed the jobs and the city languished.

Because of this the numbers in the survey aren't reflective of what it's really like to live in the St. Louis area. The city is more dangerous than the county, sort of. There's parts of the county that I wouldn't want to be in just like certain places in the city. The problem for the city is that because of its compressed nature the stats get skewed. If the city and county were measured as one metropolitan area like most other major cities are I would guess that we'd be way down the list.

Someday I would imagine that the city and county will join. The county is beginning to look more like the city as housing ages and so does the population. The politics in the county have gone more Democrat as big chunks of it, especially in the north and the inner suburban ring, have come to resemble the city because the exodus from the city still continues. A lot of the people that used to live in North County have moved to St. Charles County shifting it to a Republican stronghold as St. Louis County becomes a reliable Democrat base.

The employers continue to move west with the people, further isolating the city. Since it is becoming more and more expensive to commute the working poor in the city are finding it harder to get jobs which is feeding the poverty cycle which in turn is driving the crime.

For years there have been areas of the city that have been restored with much fanfare only to slide back into decline. A few have taken hold but even those are surrounded by blight and decay. It's a shame because the city could be a really nice place to live if you like urban areas. And some still like living there and find that they have no real problems in the neighborhoods they live in. Of course, I've known plenty of people over the years that told me how safe their neighborhoods were until they moved out and viewed them from a distance. I think that we learn to accept as normal things which aren't when we are immersed in them only to see them truthfully once we get out.

I don't go to the city anymore unless I absolutely have to. It's not because I'm worried about getting killed or anything major. It's the little stuff like car break ins and my tools getting stolen that I don't want to deal with. And that's really what most of the crime is. It's petty thievery.

So I guess I wouldn't put too much credence in these stats. St. Louis is a really nice place to live and visit. Of course, the place called St. Louis by the people that live here is way different than the legal meaning or the city. It's an entire metro area that encompasses both sides of the river and parts of two states, urban, suburban and rural areas, poor slums and fabulously wealthy places and everything in between. We've been here since 1754 and it shows. We've been part of Spain, France and America. We were once known as the "Paris of the West".

St. Louis is not just a crime ridden ghetto as the numbers in the survey would suggest. It's a family with problems, none deadly but many serious. More than that, it's home. My family has lived here for over 150 years and I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't still here 150 years from now.

We are St. Louisans.

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