Strolling east on Delmar Ave. from Interstate 170 on a sunny afternoon, you'll pass through a nice residential area with splendid architecture. Suddenly, you're passing through two stone pillars with roaring lions and the St. Louis Walk of Fame is buzzing with all kinds of people: young, middle-aged, old, purple-haired, tattooed, pierced, moms, dads and college students. This notorious stretch of Delmar Ave. is the University City Loop.
by Becky Rickard
The Loop is famous for its urban atmosphere and its diversity. Whether it's a famous hamburger from Blueberry Hill, a microbrewed root beer from Fitz's Bottling Co. or a fancy for Lebanese and Middle Eastern food at Saleem's Restaurant, there is a variety of different tastes at The Loop. If it's Italian you crave, Cicero's can do the trick. But, if you desire a taste of the Orient, Seki Japanese Restaurant and Wong's Wok are the remedy. Many of The Loop's restaurants offer entertainment and live music for the over 21 crowd at night.
Maryanne Bersch, University City public relations officer, believes that The Loop's "creative energy" offers something for everyone
"I don't perceive The Loop as being a place that has a real target. I think it's for anybody that likes the urban atmosphere," Bersch said.
If the variety of menus isn't enough for the culture-seeking St. Louisan, then the 40-plus shops and galleries should suffice. Some of the more popular shops include Vintage Vinyl, selling new and used records, tapes and CDs; Good Works, the city's oldest futon store; and Avalon, a vintage clothing shop that recently went out of business but will be reopened as Nova in May. The Loop also houses St. Louis' most popular tattoo and body piercing studio, Iron Age Studio.
The Tivoli Theatre is another attraction located in The Loop. The Tivoli has been restored to its 1924 splendor and has been voted No. 1 in The Riverfront Times Reader's Poll. The theater shows blockbuster movies, like many other cineplexes in St. Louis, but it also offers classic, foreign and less advertised films.
In the past, safety has been an issue for those who wanted to visit The Loop. However, with the installation of a new, lighted parking garage and University City police officers who walk the streets, the problem areas are becoming a thing of the past.
"We know where the trouble spots are, and we do our best to clean them up," Bersch said.
Because of increases in safety and redevelopment projects, the traditional stretch of Delmar Ave. known as The Loop has been moving eastward for the past few years. Many businesses, such as The Riverfront Times' editorial and administrative offices, have moved to the community in support of the thriving economy.
University City officials and business owners want to make The Loop more accessible to St. Louis. The newest venture for The Loop is planning and developing transportation from the nearest MetroLink station at Delmar and Wabash Avenues. The MetroLink station is located in an area that isn't deemed as safe as The Loop; therefore, Joe Edwards, owner of Blueberry Hill and the Tivoli Theatre, is proposing to set up a trolley system that brings MetroLink passengers to and from The Loop. The project is still in its initial planning stages and doesn't have city funding yet.
University City officials don't feel threatened by the redevelopment of the downtown St. Louis community. In fact, they hope that the downtown projects will heighten St. Louis' attraction to urban atmosphere and, consequently, The Loop.
"I think when one part of the town does well, we will all do well," Bersch added.
University City will be hosting Fair in the Square on May 17 from noon to 6 p.m.. The event will feature three stages of live music, food, arts and crafts and carnival ride. Delmar, Kingsland, Washington and Trinity Avenues will be the sight for the fair. Fair in the Square is the first of many summer events including the Summer Starlight Concert Series in Heman Park, Classics in The Loop at the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall and the University City Summer Band's free concerts at The Market in The Loop.