11/03/2004: Bringing back memories (some even happy!). Now! Annotated!!
Via Turquoise Waffle Irons in the Back Yard (annotations in bold):
Visitor's Guide to Driving in St. Louis
leave metro St. Louis for somewhere else?
- There are 75 "official neighborhoods" in the City of St. Louis. St. Louisans commonly give directions (especially for restaurants) to strangers based on these neighborhoods which aren't marked on any maps that are handed out by the tourist board, the AAA or Mapquest. Very true. However, there are several hundred Catholic parishes in St. Louis, and every native knows what parish s/he lives in. Even if s/he isn't Catholic. And every native will make reference to these parishes when s/he gives directions, too.
- There are 54 school districts -- on the Missouri side alone -- each of which has their own school bus system and scheduled times to block traffic.
- There are 91 official municipalities in St. Louis County. Each Municipality has its own rules, regulations, and often their own police departments.
- More importantly, most have their own snow removal contracts, so it's not uncommon to drive down a road in winter and have one block plowed, the next salted, the next piled with snow and the last partially cleared by residents wanting to get out of their driveways.
- Snow plowing is never a problem in the City of St. Louis. They plow nothing, and if the forecast calls for snow, they close everything. Except on "The Hill" (refer to #1 above) where each homeowner goes out to the street and shovels out one car-sized rectangle and then stands watch over it.
- Any car parked longer than 4 hours in the city is considered a parts store.
- The City of Ballwin actually proposed that drivers use connecting strip mall parking lots to get from place to place rather than drive on Manchester Road to cut the traffic on Manchester. What? You mean the city didn't intend the strip mall parking lots as distributor routes?
- Laclede Station Road mysteriously changes names as you cross intersections. As do McCausland, Lindbergh, Watson, Reavis Barracks, Fee Fee, McKnight, Airport Road, Midland, Olive and Clarkson. Gravois Road can only be pronounced by a native. Hint: If you're pronouncing it like the French would, you're wrong. Would you also pronounce the name of the state across the river, "Illi-nwah"? Ditto for Spoede and Chouteau. Or "Goethe" (a street in South City), for that matter (the correct native pronunciation is "GO-thee").
- A St. Louisan from South County has never been to North County and vice versa. West County has everything delivered.
- No native St. Louisan knows that Lindbergh runs from South County to North County! And, if you tell them, they will not believe you. Actually, I am a native St. Louisan, I do know it, and I will believe you if you tell me (because I know it). Of course, I know it because Fate once compelled me to drive the entire length of Lindbergh, north to south, when I also learned:
- Lindbergh belongs to every neighborhood except Kirkwood, who had the nerve to creatively change the name to "Kirkwood Road".
- There are 2 interchanges to exit from Highway 40 onto Clayton Road and 2 for Big Bend. Stay alert, people! IIRC, there are also two exits off I-55 onto Jefferson in South City, too.
- If you need directions to O'Fallon, make sure to specify Illinois or Missouri. This is also true for Troy, Maryville, St. Charles, Springfield Columbia.... This isn't so true for St. Charles; St. Charles, Illinois is a part of Chicagoland (go look it up on Mapquest or Expedia; I'll be here when you get back) and therefore isn't in the mind of a native St. Louisan. This would only confuse a transplant to St. Louis from Chicagoland. If you are asked directions to St. Charles in the St. Louis area, I doubt that the questioner is really interested in going to St. Charles, Illinois.
- The Page Avenue extension and Airport expansion projects took over 20 years to get approved and St. Louisans lost track of how many political figures claimed them as their own ideas.
- St. Louisans were aghast when the federal government required them to redo the highway signs to indicate that the federal highways went to cities in other states instead of local municipalities. What? Like someone would really want to
Drivers are starting to cut their OWN plates rather than go through the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles to get new tags. You can also purchase tags from dealers behind QuiK Shops in the city. They are cheaper, the clerks are nicer, and the service is faster. Lambert Field and St. Louis International Airport really are the same place. The East Terminal, however, is a different place. Highway 270 is our daily version of the NASCAR circuit. (Same goes for Highway 70.) You can go all four directions on Highway 270: North and South in West County, East and West in South County, and East and West in North County. Confused? So are the St. Louis drivers. The outer belt is Highway 270 which turns into Highway 255 in South County. The inner belt is Highway 170. Highway 370 is an outer-outer belt. Highway 40 is the same as Interstate 64 (but only through the middle part of St. Louis). Not quite true; I-64 is I-64 from Norfolk or Virginia Beach, VA all the way to St. Louis (I know; I was in a long distance relationship with a woman in the Norfolk area and have driven the entire stretch of that highway), and it only shares the US40 designation along parts of the route. Granted, part of that route is from Somewhere In Southern Illinois all the way through to The End Of I-64 which is in West St. Louis County; US40 then preceeds to wend its merry way still further west, eventually dumping its traffic into Interstate 70 in Wentzville. The morning rush hour is from 6:00 to 10:00 AM. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. Friday's rush hour starts Thursday morning. Never ever try to cross a bridge in St. Louis during rush hour unless you have a sack lunch and a port-a-potty in the car. YIELD signs are for decoration only. No native St. Louisan will ever grasp the concept. If someone actually has their turn signal on, it is probably a factory defect, or has been on for the last 17 miles. Construction on Highways 40, 64, 70, 255, 270, 44, 55 and 170 is a way of life, and a permanent form of entertainment. All old ladies with blue hair in Cadillac's (driving on Olive west of 270) have the right of way. If it snows or rains? Stay home!!
Len on 11.03.04 @ 08:46 PM CST