The Central Business District

  1. Improved Access Required For Greater Traffic Volume And For Many More Parking Facilities
  2. Adequate Parking Facilities
  3. Express Highways
  4. Traffic Regulations

Improved Access Required For Greater Traffic Volume And For Many More Parking Facilities

The central business district is the heart of the city and of the metropolitan district. It is the focal point of the city plan. Each day more than three hundred thousand workers, shoppers and visitors move in and out of this district.

The close concentration of offices, retail stores, wholesale houses, banks, government buildings, and other facilities is highly advantageous and a great public convenience. If congestion is permitted to become so great and so protracted as to necessitate broader scattering of these buildings and facilities either within a larger business district or to more remote sections of the city the public convenience would be seriously impaired. Decentralization of some retail business may be necessary or desirable but this is not true of the main uses mentioned.

Congestion has developed in recent years due to:

  1. Population growth and consequent increased number of persons daily entering the central business district.
  2. Increased number of office buildings, stores, shops, hotels and other buildings.
  3. Enormous increase in automobile and truck traffic.
  4. Inability to widen the comparatively narrow streets of the business district.

The central business district has been expanded northward by opening and widening of Delmar and Franklin and by the rerouting of streetcars and buses. No further area expansion is necessary. The present district, bounded by Twelfth, Franklin, 3rd and Market Streets, is sufficiently large to satisfy the demands of a metropolitan population of 2,000,000 persons. No subways or street widenings will be needed within the boundaries of the business district provided three types of improvements are made, i.e., (1) adequate parking facilities, (2) new express-ways for by-passing trucks and through traffic, and (3) gradual improvement in and strict enforcement of traffic control measures.

Approximately 375,000 persons now enter the St. Louis business district each day between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. How much additional volume we should anticipate and plan for is difficult to determine with exactitude because of the absence of adequate data and information in this field of planning. Investigation discloses that in Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Detroit considerably larger numbers of persons daily enter the central business district, as shown by Table Number XI. These four cities have much larger metropolitan populations however and two have rapid transit facilities that carry much of the added volume of passengers. The larger cities support business districts of greater size, which is also a factor to be considered.

It is significant that the total number of persons entering the St. Louis business district compares favorably with that of other cities of similar size. The number of persons entering by automobile in St. Louis exceeds that in all but four of the cities shown. The number of persons entering by mass transportation carriers in St. Louis exceeds that in all but four of the cities without rapid transit.

Table Number XI
Number Of Persons Entering Selected Central Business Districts
7 A.M. - 7 P.M. Daily
Cities Year Metropolitan District Population a) (In Thousands) Number of Persons
Entering Central Business District b(In Thousands)
Private Auto or Truck Street Car or Bus Other Public Total
Chicago 1941 4,500 256 276 292 824
Los Angeles 1941 3,000 397 246 246 643
Detroit 1944 2,536 142 257 22 421
Boston 1938 1,970 238 113 233 584
Pittsburgh 1939 1,990 126 107 13 246
San Francisco 1937 1,400 165 195 - 360
ST. LOUIS e) 1941 1,400 180 135 20 335
Cleveland 1938 1,210 176 113 4 293
Baltimore 1938 1,030 163 104 - 267
Milwaukee 1941 797 184 161 - 345
Cincinnati 1936 780 97 83 - 180

a Estimated for non-census years.
b Pedestrians excluded.
c Area of business district as locally defined is relatively larger than other cities.
d 8 A.M.-6 P.M. Area of Pittsburgh business district as locally defined is relatively small.
e Estimated from earlier traffic counts.
Source: All data furnished by individual City Plan Commissions except Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore & Cincinnati from Charles S. Cunningham, "Report on General Traffic Conditions in Pittsburgh Central Business District Compared with Other Cities," 1940.

An estimate of the number of persons entering the central business district per 1000 of metropolitan district population from available data is shown in Table Number XII. This information is quite incomplete but it does reveal that apparently (a) the relative number of persons entering is surprisingly uniform for all cities, (b) the largest cities have a generally lower total and (c) St. Louis compares most favorably with all cities shown.



Table Number XII
Number Of Persons Per 1,000 Metropolitan District Population Entering Selected Central Business Districts
7 A.M. - 7 P.M. Daily
Cities Number of Persons Entering Central Business District
Per 1,000 Metropolitan District Population a)
1926 1931 1936 1941 1946
Chicago 220 193 181 183 178 b)
Los Angeles 410 b) 310 228 b) 214 210 c)
Detroit - - 149 - 166 b)
Boston d) 301 b) 301 b) 296 b) - -
Pittsburgh e) - - - 124 b) -
San Francisco - - 257 b) - -
ST. LOUIS 227 - 230 b) 239 c) 250 c)
Cleveland e) - - 242 b) - -
Milwaukee d) - - - 345 -
Cincinnati e) - - 230 - -

a) Pedestrians excluded. Population estimated for non-census years.
b) Figures for nearest available year.
c) Estimated.
d) Area of business district as defined relatively large.
e) 8A.M.-6 P.M. Area of Pittsburgh business district as defined relatively small.
Source: All data furnished by individual City Plan Commissions except Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Cincinnati from Charles S. Cunningham, "Report on General Traffic Conditions in Pittsburgh Central Business District Compared with Other Cities," 1940.

This limited data is necessarily inconclusive but would seem to justify the assumption that, with the three types of improvements above suggested and some of which are specifically set forth in the present Comprehensive Plan, St. Louis can provide proportionately for as many or more persons entering the central business district as can any other city.

This study discloses the need for more thorough periodic business district cordon counts. Heretofore such information has been obtained irregularly and incompletely.

The proposed improvements should make possible a daily movement of 450,000 persons into and out of the central business district without undue congestion. This total would exceed that of any large city without rapid transit, with the single exception of Los Angeles.

In this connection, it should be pointed out that St. Louis is noted for the haphazard manner in which its pedestrians cross heavily traveled streets. In the downtown area, as well as in certain busy outlying shopping districts pedestrians are probably the greatest single factor contributing to the slowing down of vehicular traffic. New ordinances are needed to cope with this problem, and in some locations the traffic signals should be equipped with added indications for the exclusive control of pedestrian movements. This type of signal has proved very satisfactory and effective in Washington, D. C. and other cities.

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