An experiential art exhibit honoring the former Mill Creek Valley neighborhood, a historically Black area, is now part of the new St. Louis City SC stadium design.
The new MLS stadium is located in the Mill Creek Valley neighborhood, demolished in the 1950s. The art will be produced in partnership with St. Louis’ trailway organization Great Rivers Greenway for a one-mile stretch of the new Brickline Greenway segment between the new St. Louis City SC stadium and Harris Stowe State University.
Conceived by the post-disciplinary artist and St. Louis native Damon Davis to honor and recognize the 20,000 Black residents who were displaced from the once thriving Mill Creek Valley neighborhood in the name of urban renewal in the 1950s, a portion of the art installation will be on permanent display at new St. Louis City SC stadium southwest plaza on Market Street. In addition, the stadium’s southern side will be landscaped to show the exact plotline of the homes that stood on the stadium site over 50 years ago. In addition to the art exhibit, St. Louis City will share information and resources about Mill Creek Valley within the club’s app, as well as an interactive augmented reality experience around the permanent art exhibit upon its completion in 2023.
“With our stadium district overlapping the footprint of Mill Creek Valley, we knew it was important to acknowledge the hard truths of the past. We have to learn from what came before so we can envision a better way toward growth and revitalization together that’s inclusive of all St. Louisans.” said Khalia Collier, St. Louis City’s Vice President of Community Relations, via press release
The new section of the Brickline Greenway and the public art installation commemorating the historic St. Louis neighborhood is designed to reinforce Downtown West as one of the city’s important regional destinations when it opens in conjunction with St. Louis City’s inaugural MLS season in 2023. In design now, the project will be constructed in phases over the next two years, linking major institutions and small businesses alike along the route. Davis’ work will be part of the Counterpublic civic arts exhibition in 2023 as well, with a series of programs and events to interpret the stories and activate the space.
“MLS clubs have been leading voices in helping create meaningful dialogue around social and racial equity issues, and this important project is unlike anything in professional sports as it has the ability to help transform a city,” said Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber via press release. “When St. Louis City hosts their first home match, I am proud MLS will be playing a prominent role in sharing the story of Mill Creek Valley.”
“Sports and art both have the ability to empower and connect people from diverse backgrounds,” said Carolyn Kindle Betz, St. Louis City SC President and Chief Executive Officer, via press release “By partnering with Great Rivers Greenway and working with this project’s many other partners, including Damon Davis, we believe we will create a moving experience within our stadium district where art, green space and gathering places come together to honor a historic St. Louis neighborhood.”
Running along Market Street from Compton Ave. to 20th Street, this segment of the Brickline Greenway will include Harris-Stowe State University’s Stars Park project, a homage to the former home to the St. Louis Stars of the Negro National League, and their plans to renovate Vashon Community Center, one of the only remaining structures from Mill Creek Valley, into the Don and Heide Wolff Jazz Institute and National Black Radio Hall of Fame.
The newest addition to the vast network of paved, accessible pathways from regional public agency Great Rivers Greenway, the Brickline Greenway is ultimately looking to include 20 miles of pathways, linking up to 17 neighborhoods connecting Forest Park, Gateway Arch National Park, Fairground Park, Tower Grove Park and hundreds of destinations in between. Great Rivers Greenway’s mission for the project is to work with partners to ensure that the path is a catalyst for equitable economic development, creating a vibrant space for people to gather, explore and connect to the city and each other.
Renderings courtesy St. Louis City SC.