Photos: Can Melvin White Save Dr. Martin Luther King Drive?
This week's Riverfront Times feature story focuses on efforts to revive Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in north city St. Louis. The street is a bleak seven mile stretch of shuttered businesses, trash-strewn vacant lots and rampant poverty, but one man -- a maverick postal worker named Melvin White -- thinks he can reverse the decades of decline.
Photo by Theo Welling
The headquarters of White's organization, Beloved Streets of America, sits on one of the roughest corners on the whole street, Hamilton Avenue and MLK Drive. RFT sent photographer Theo Welling there to visually document White's struggle, as well the businesses and residents who still call this street home.
This funky-looking building used to be the J.C. Penney department store, back when the neighborhood served as the anchor of a thriving, miles-long retail corridor. The store closed in 1976 and the building has been empty ever since. The building's owner, however, agreed last month to allow Beloved Streets of America to design a hydroponic vegetable garden that, some day, could fill the structure's vast interior with fresh greens and new jobs.
Continue for more photos of MLK Drive.