To one person who lives in St. Louis, a pine grove in Forest Park is the real attraction in the shadow of the World’s Fair Pavilion. Another St. Louisan dreams of a revitalized Black Wall Street down the historic Martin Luther King Drive when they see the city-boosted Washington Avenue Historic District.
A group of researchers wanted to access the truth of what people value and remember most about St. Louis, without assuming publicly acknowledged symbols of the city — like the World’s Fair Pavilion, or the historic district, or even the city’s famous Gateway Arch — mean anything to them. So they began by letting residents decide what’s on the map.
“In my design studies, I think about what you would call the vernacular architecture — vernacular space,” says Allison Nkwocha, a graduate researcher with the public art-focused Monument Lab. “Monuments are often so grand and specific. They’re ‘heroes.’ They don’t really have that much to do with everyday people.”
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