St. Louisans responded defensively, resignedly and with some very reasoned commentary to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s report Sunday on the Midwestern city’s economic, political and social struggles of the last century.
The AJC story, “St Louis: Enduring missteps carry high cost,” prompted a quick response from the local newspaper. And, by lunchtime Monday, 120 readers had commented on The St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.
“St. Louis’ rivalry with Chicago played out more than a century ago, but an Atlanta newspaper has decided to rub salt in an old wound,” the beginning of the story read.
The AJC has launched a yearlong examination of problems bedeviling the Atlanta region – traffic, education, infrastructure, leadership, a lukewarm economy – and is traveling the country chronicling how other cities deal with similar problems. The latest installment of the Atlanta Forward 2015 project detailed how St. Louis and Chicago faced critical junctures, or inflection points, in their respective histories. Earlier stories looked at the Dallas-Forth Worth area and at Charlotte.
- Chicago: Heartland hub makes most of transition
- Metro Atlanta at a crossroads as issues build
- Dallas-Fort Worth’s big visions unblurred
- Charlotte’s strength lies at its core
- Complete Atlanta Forward 2015 coverage
Once-booming St. Louis is beset by economic, political and racial problems that manifested in last August’s shooting on an unarmed black teen by a white police officer in the suburban town of Ferguson. The AJC wrote – and the Post-Dispatch repeated — that St. Louis could serve as “a cautionary tale” for Atlanta.
“It’s hard to disagree with that point,” commented Ken Loseman on the Post-Dispatch’s website. “The Atlanta newspaper is exactly correct in its description. I’ve been there several times and I would agree that they should try to follow plans that have worked for Chicago, Houston, Dallas, or Phoenix. The City of St. Louis is obviously a failure.”
Added James Murphy, “St. Louis lost out because it’s (sic) leaders lacked vision and determination. … Face it! St. Louis’ leadership couldn’t manage a one-bedroom brothel. It’s a shame, because the STL metro has a lot of things to be proud of.”
A few commenters turned their ire on Atlanta.
“Atlantans should first get their own house in order before criticizing elsewhere,” wrote John Schwendler. “I seriously doubt if anyone in St. Louis cares what anyone in Atlanta has to say, about anything.”
Victor Perrin wrote: “We are natives of Atlanta and have enjoyed living in the St. Louis area for the past 45 years, coming here in 1971. In the 1970’s either the Post-Dispatch or the Globe Democrat had an article that contended that Atlanta and St. Louis were very similar. I thought HUH? No way. But St. Louis need not be an Atlanta, Chicago, Pittsburgh or Indianapolis to be a good place to live, work and raise children.”
Next up for the Atlanta Forward 2015 project: How a unified Denver region tackles its problems.