At the turn of the twentieth century, Washington Avenue was once a prosperous canyon of architecturally beautiful brick buildings housing shoe, clothes and fashion manufacturers.
The sidewalks were alive with people window shopping and buying in the famous garment district. The corridor of warehouses also boasted a burgeoning printing industry.
Over the years, numerous studies focused on Washington Avenue with a vision of bringing it back to life with a vital neighborhood of residential lofts, galleries, nightclubs and other attractions.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, plans were set in motion again for improvements to enhance Washington Avenue’s appearance. The Washington Avenue Streetscape Project became one of the first phases of the Downtown Now! Development Action Plan to be implemented. Funded was provided by $4 million from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, and $13 million from the Missouri Dept. of Transportation enhancement program.
The design plan was created by a consultant design team led by Wallace Robert & Todd, a Philadelphia-based planning and design firm, working with five St. Louis companies including Kiku Obata & Company and David Mason and Associates Inc. In addition to the new lights, the design plan included a plaza, trees, and widened sidewalks along Washington Avenue from Tucker Blvd. to 18th Street and the connecting side streets to Lucas and St. Charles streets.