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Old Posted Jun 4, 2012, 8:56 PM
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Ancient Suburb Near St. Louis Could Be Lost Forever

Ancient Suburb Near St. Louis Could Be Lost Forever


June 2, 2012

By Véronique LaCapra



Read More: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/02/153699...e-lost-forever

Quote:
Across the Mississippi River from St. Louis' famous Gateway Arch is a part of Illinois that's a post-industrial wasteland. Some hope the construction of a new bridge across the Mississippi River will help revitalize the area. But archaeologists worry future development could destroy what's left of another neighborhood — one that flourished there almost a thousand years ago.

- Working just ahead of the cranes and earth movers that are building a stretch of the interstate freeway, archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a sophisticated American Indian settlement no one knew existed. There are remnants of more than a thousand prehistoric houses and the base of an earthen pyramid — one of dozens that would have towered above the original settlement.

- This East St. Louis dig sits halfway between a crumbling meat packing plant and a now-closed strip club. But Joe Galloy, who is coordinating research here for the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, says 900 years ago, visitors paddling here by canoe from the Mississippi River would have seen the tall wooden temples that stood on top of many of the pyramids. And at their bases, rows and rows of thatched-roof huts.

- Galloy and others believe that what they've found here near East St. Louis is a prehistoric suburb of an ancient city known as Cahokia, once the largest American Indian city north of Mexico. Its remains are five miles away. What's left of Cahokia is now part of an Illinois State Park. It's also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cahokia is considered the greatest achievement of Mississippian culture, which once spread throughout the Central and Southern U.S. Here, there were 120 massive pyramids of earth — more than twice the number of any other site. Now those pyramids are eroded, grassy mounds.

- Archaeologists estimate that as many as 20,000 American Indians lived here. And now, with the discovery of the East St. Louis site, they think there may have been thousands more. But Iseminger says exactly what attracted so many people here is still a mystery. "Was there a powerful leader here, or charismatic leader, that drew people in, attracted people? Did something happen here that drew them in? Or something about the location was more significant? Those kinds of things we just don't have answers for directly," he says.

- By the time the East St. Louis dig wraps up later this year, only about a tenth of the ancient settlement will have been excavated. He says once the new Mississippi River bridge is finished, the other 90 percent, which is still buried under private land, could be destroyed. "Because East St. Louis is right across from St. Louis, it's prime land for any kind of commercial development," he says. Pauketat and a number of other archaeologists are trying to get the federal government to buy the land around the dig site. They want to see the new Cahokian settlement combined with the larger state-run site and protected as a national park. But Pauketat admits that so far, that doesn't seem likely.

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Old Posted Jun 5, 2012, 2:15 AM
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Old Posted Jun 5, 2012, 3:39 AM
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Yes, the new bridge will suddenly kick off a massive building boom in East St Louis. Because the eastern ends of the Poplar, Eads, and MLK bridges are bustling urban meccas.

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Old Posted Jun 5, 2012, 5:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
Yes, the new bridge will suddenly kick off a massive building boom in East St Louis. Because the eastern ends of the Poplar, Eads, and MLK bridges are bustling urban meccas.

exactly what i thought. if there's going to be any development in the foreseeable future as a result of the new bridge it's going to be on the MO side.
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Old Posted Jun 5, 2012, 8:04 PM
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Ancient suburb sounds like an oxymoron, and it probably wasn't even a satellite town. They probably stumbled across the old CBD.
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2012, 9:01 PM
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A few remarks here seem to be a little condescending.

For the record, there is a strong possibility that with the new bridge, more new distribution warehouses and light industial, which already exist in this part of East St. Louis, could be built.

The area in question, as you can see in the photos, is in proximity to railroads, ports, Illinois Route 3 (which is receiving upgrades and a new interchange at the bridge), the North St. Louis industrial riverfront and the new bridge (I-70), which will connect to I-64.

Further, East St. Louis has received money to begin expanding and upgrading the Port of East St. Louis.

They are not unearthing all of those mounds for nothing. This new bridge is going through what could become prime commercial real estate for East St. Louis because of its proximity to the new bridge.

The area in question will sit directly on I-70. It is unlike like St. Louis' north riverfront, where most of the land is developed and the buildings are either occupied or empty and must be redeveloped.



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Old Posted Jun 6, 2012, 9:17 PM
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Pretty interesting. I have an aunt that has lived on Illinois 3 in Brooklyn forever, literally just out of view in some of those photos posted above. As far as the comments about the bridge spurring future development, isn't East St. Louis/ Brooklyn on the Federal Government's neighborhood revitalization list, or is that father north on Highway 3 in Venice and Madison? Anyways, if they (East St. Louis and Brooklyn) are on that list, I wouldn't be surprised to see some new development (industrial) come up in that area.
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2012, 9:49 PM
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Arch City, stop being so reasonable.
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2012, 9:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IWant2BeInSTL View Post
exactly what i thought. if there's going to be any development in the foreseeable future as a result of the new bridge it's going to be on the MO side.
The East Side is growing again, just as downtown is, which to me, go hand in hand. The obvious says, most Metro Easters don't work in Clayton. To them, there's only one business district- downtown St Louis. So it's in the city's best interest for the Metro East to grow. The closest part of St Louis for most on the east side is downtown, not Clayton, not the U-City loop, not Forest Park. It's downtown.

So anyway, since few on the Missouri side venture across the river, it should be noted that there was development on the Cahokia Mounds site prior to preservation efforts, even after the start of the decline of the East St Louis area. Any kind of development, no matter how small or big, is a threat to these historic sites.

Last edited by Xing; Jun 7, 2012 at 12:08 AM.
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Old Posted Jun 6, 2012, 9:52 PM
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Xing, stop being so reasonable. I'm so sick of all this reason!
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  #11  
Old Posted Jun 11, 2012, 8:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arkitekte View Post
As far as the comments about the bridge spurring future development, isn't East St. Louis/ Brooklyn on the Federal Government's neighborhood revitalization list, or is that father north on Highway 3 in Venice and Madison?
East St. Louis was a part of the Greater St. Louis Regional Empowerment Zone. You can read more about Empowerment Zones here. I think there was a federal sunset on the program. It had been initiated by the Clinton Administration.

Certain projects in East St. Louis - as with St. Louis City - currently receive New Market tax credits, which is a federal development tool used to "spur revitalization efforts of low-income and impoverished communities communities".

And last year, Illinois passed in 2011 Historic Tax Credits for 'Rivers Edge Redevelopment' Communities - which includes East St. Louis. This one is a biggie. It is definitely going to help spark some development interest in ESTL.
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