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Shrewsbury MetroLink Station
4 May 2015
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The Shrewsbury MetroLink Station, located at 7201 Landsdowne Avenue, is the home of the western-most stop on the blue line of the Metrolink. St. Louis Metro was founded in 1949 as the Bi-State Development Agency as an interstate compact between Missouri and Illinois, ratified by Congress and signed by Harry S. Truman. It’s goal was to influence development of the region as a whole. In the first year of operation the agency studied pollution in the Mississippi, looked at highway planning, and proposed solutions for the development of the St. Louis metro region. It was not until 1963 when public transport was first introduced, and 1993 when the light rail, known as the MetroLink, was introduced.

When I spent time at the Shrewsbury MetroLink, I asked people the question, “Why is this location significant to the St. Louis region? One man, who hailed from Germany but has lived in St. Louis for twenty years, stumbled when I asked him. He said, ““I don’t know. I can tell you why Powell Hall has one, I don’t know.” As I told him about my project and the questions I was asking about the St. Louis region, he noted to me, “You have a hard thesis to tackle. I don’t know why this is significant.” After chatting with him, I sat on a bench for a while and just people-watched. Much of the activity consisted of people getting off of the metrolink and boarding Westward busses, as this is the farthest west the metrolink extends. As I sat, a man came and sat with me, and I started chatting with him about the stop. I asked him the same question. He replied with a very kind and caring answer: that this place is significant because it is where the bus drivers can get off and relax after long hours of driving and being alert to other drivers and happenings on the road. The next person I talked to was the security guard at the station. When I asked him the question, he shrugged. The only reason he could come up with for this location’s significance was that “it is the end of the line.”

The MetroLink is famous with residents of St. Louis for its undertones of racism--the blue line, the expansion completed in 2009, does not extend past Shrewsbury into West County. For many, this reflects the sentiments of people in West County, an especially affluent part of the metro area, who do not want “thugs” to have access to their neighborhoods, malls, and jobs. Furthermore, the light rail only runs East-West, connecting the central corridor with Downtown and Illinois. In a blog written for the Riverfront Times, titled, “Ten Disturbingly Racist Things About St. Louis,” the author writes, “It is also deliberately set up this way to keep a "certain element" from freely traveling to specific counties.” Very obviously, that “certain element” is African-Americans. On this cake are written the words “collaboration, implementation, leadership, and success.” I believe, however, that using these words on the cake are misleading, as the MetroLink, in reality, highlights the divisions in St. Louis, not the successes. This stop is not significant for the “successes” that Metrolink has brought to the region. Rather, the western-most stop for the blue line illustrates how St. Louis is divided into “black” and “white” neighborhoods, and that little is being done to ameliorate the economic and social disparities that have resulted.

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