Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

Kirkwood High School student newspaper

The Kirkwood Call

Downtown dilemma

Kirkwoods+historical+society+is+the+center+of+Downtown+Kirkwood%2C+and+provides+for+the+community.
Maggie Cannon
Kirkwood’s historical society is the center of Downtown Kirkwood, and provides for the community.

The downtown of any city represents their American Dream, a district built with free markets, a bright community and natural parks, which showcase all a town has to offer. Downtown Kirkwood has been a staple of the county’s identity since its founding in 1853. The town was built around the railroad station. Restaurants like the best-selling pizza hub Dewey’s and the Kirkwood farmer’s market, make the downtown a crown jewel in its area. People gather through the DTK in celebrations like the Greentree Festival and during summer the shops are packed with patrons. Despite this, Kirkwood is a silver medal when put next to other downtowns like Saint Charles and Webster. Good, but not great. 

Maggie Cannon

Shannon Grote, sophomore, has been spending most of her grade school years exploring and mingling in downtown Kirkwood. Like most students with free weekends and no car, Grote spends her weekend discovering every nook and cranny of DTK. Grote said most days she doesn’t have a particular destination in mind. Rather, she wanders the streets with friends and on occasion browses the historic public library or the farmer’s market. This is not uncommon, a lot of middle and high schoolers alike do this–I did this for a while even. The reason I, and most high schoolers, stopped is because it gets boring after a while. Don’t get me wrong Kirkwood has some great entertainment, but after a while, it all just blends together. DTK thrives on where it is located. Middle school students can walk to the middle of the town in 10 minutes, high schoolers an additional five. Not enough shops appeal to this audience, however. Excluding restaurants, kids can choose from a woodshop, library, farmer’s market or Lego shop.

Kirkwood [makes it] very obvious you’re in downtown,

— Goertz

Grote wants more parks and shops. I agree with her, for all that Kirkwood does right when it’s marked down on a map, the downtown is just a bunch of restaurants built over what used to be a historical district. Now that’s not to say the restaurants are bad, I have had some of my favorite meals at places like PJ’s and Dewey’s, but we need more. As a community, having the parking lots no one uses turned into more stores or even better–parks would greatly improve business. Clothing stores would be a good place to start. A good portion of DTK’s customers are people without cars or the ability to drop $200 on clothes, having utilities for this demographic would make Kirkwood skyrocket. 

“We need more shopping places,” Grote said. “There’s a [clothing store] called Mod on Trend and it’s like $100 for a skirt.”

While there is a Target and Walmart not far from downtown, it is surrounded by two major roads and is impossible to cross safely without a car.

The clothing stores downtown are high-end boutiques with prices that reflect the store’s “organic” appearance. It would be hard to find any type of outfit downtown for less than $40. While more competition won’t directly fix the inflated prices, it might put pressure too. Most are locally owned and able to keep prices high with a lack of competition nearby to buy from. While there is a Target and Walmart not far from downtown, it is surrounded by two major roads and is impossible to cross safely without a car. No one in their right mind would make the out-of-the-way venture over there if they wanted to do something else. Now I am not saying let’s create a corporate Kirkwood, but adding a little more variety like a thrift store would be nice. 

Maggie Cannon

Most of my requests are answered in Webster’s downtown. The modernized downtown fills its area with anything a person can ask for, Webster Groves sits engulfed in parks with another smaller one in its center–Memorial Park. With a train sitting on the east side and a major road cutting through the town, Webster Groves appears to be the parallel version of Kirkwood geographically. They embrace the slogan “City of Art” by lining every street corner with a local store such as Euclid Records or a whimsical coffee shop like Garden Cafe.

 However, its content comes at a cost. The roads can get backed up, meaning getting anywhere by car is so infuriating it’s not even worth it. This makes the solution of going to Webster for things you can’t get in Kirkwood feel less and less worth it. Furthermore, Webster has compromised the rustic town and caring community feel for businesses with big bank accounts. One of these institutions is Webster University–the first to pay and typically the highest bidder when it comes to the land being sold in the downtown area. This has caused downtown to be fractured into tinier pieces by new dorms and campus buildings being built around owned land. 

“Kirkwood [makes it] very obvious you’re in downtown,” Goertz said. “But with Webster’s, I kinda didn’t know until someone mentioned it was downtown.” 

I like Webster’s downtown a lot, they have so many great shops and I find myself staying down there and losing track of time rather than trying to kill it. The prices are not better, nowhere close to better and the traffic is the last straw. The traffic is so bad in Webster that getting anywhere is faster to get on and off the highway than going through Mainstreet. Walking also doesn’t work because of the jigsaw puzzle of city planning. When all of these come together, your sanity isn’t worth the shops. 

Brenna Goertz, first-year math teacher, is new to the Kirkwood-Webster area. She had explored downtown Kirkwood a handful of times and Webster’s a little less. While she said Kirkwood’s was better, the entertainment and stores (aside from the Farmer’s market) were underwhelming when compared to her time at Saint Charles–a closer town to where she lives. 

“Saint Charles has a 50/50 of shops and restaurants,” Goertz said. “Kirkwood’s–just from guessing, is more 75% restaurants [and] 25% shops.” 

Goertz said as a runner, she greatly benefits from the proximity to parks and hiking trails. According to her, Saint Charles is a better neighborhood to walk through while Webster and Kirkwood are both more for driving. Now what is better to drive through? Looking at a map answers that quickly. Kirkwood. Someone would have to get on two major roads and some narrow alleys that go through a maze of residential homes to make it from one side of downtown Webster to the other. In Kirkwood, people will stay on one road–albeit a busy one but hey, nothing is perfect. 

Final verdict? Per usual Kirkwood beats Webster, despite Webster having more coffee shops and parks, you can’t take the town out of downtown. The poor city planning and quick expansion make driving through Webster a nightmare for anyone not native to the area. If Saint Charles is the goalpost, Kirkwood made it far, but not past the fences. The historical district makes sure you know where downtown ends and begins and Kirkwood made sure to capitalize on the 50s feel of the area at every turn. This was inevitably their undoing however when the old overpowers the new it’s hard to stay entertained by downtown Kirkwood. All three have their perks and while it might not be number one, Kirkwood wouldn’t be the same without its cozy downtown.

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About the Contributors
Moth Bricker, features writer
Any Pronouns Hobbies and Interests: fencer, writer, chess player Favorite song: Go Fetch a Priest - The Taxpayers Favorite Quote: “Above all, don't lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love.” -Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Maggie Cannon, photographer
She/Her Hobbies and Interests: music, dance, flute Favorite movie: Grease Favorite Quote: “Don’t wish for it, work for it.”
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