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Tale of two streets in Ferguson

By Moni Basu, CNN
updated 3:33 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
  • Two parallel roads in Ferguson are separated by several blocks, but the division runs deep
  • South Florissant Road has enjoyed a revival with more upscale shops and restaurants
  • West Florissant Avenue has been in decline and is boarded up ahead of grand jury decision

Ferguson, Missouri (CNN) -- West Florissant Avenue runs parallel to South Florissant Road, separated by several blocks. But the division runs much deeper. The two thoroughfares tell the story of two cities in one, of the gulf between class and race.

Some white residents told me they lived in a bubble: They own homes off South Florissant Road, eat in restaurants there and rarely venture into the streets that were familiar to Michael Brown, the black teenager who was shot and killed by white police Officer Darren Wilson on August 9.

Black residents who live in the patchwork of homes and apartments off West Florissant Avenue sounded a similar note. They, too, lived detached from other parts of Ferguson.

Ferguson couple: We're afraid, staying

On Monday, I walked both these Ferguson streets that have been unwittingly thrust into the news. I wanted to get a sense of the place, the people and the mood before a grand jury decides whether to indict Wilson. I also wanted to capture the contrast.

South Florissant went through a revival, though signs of a city in decline still exist in the form of shuttered storefronts. There's an upscale wine bar, bicycle shop, a brew house and a plaza for concerts. It's walkable -- hence the district's name, Citywalk -- and quaint. It's a huge source of pride for Ferguson.

But after Brown's death, business owners on South Florissant have suffered. Not as much as those on West Florissant Avenue, but they have lost money and are now fearful of what might happen after a grand jury decision is made public.

Complete coverage on Ferguson

Scroll through my Instagram photos below to see the people and places of Ferguson. First, South Florissant Road:

Here begins my tale of two cities. Welcome to #Ferguson. #CNN

A photo posted by Moni Basu (@mbasucnn) on

South Florissant Road is Main Street in #Ferguson. The city has tried hard to revive downtown.

A photo posted by Moni Basu (@mbasucnn) on

In an empty storefront on South Florissant Road in #Ferguson.

A photo posted by Moni Basu (@mbasucnn) on

This road is the Main Street of #Ferguson.

A photo posted by Moni Basu (@mbasucnn) on

West Florissant Avenue

West Florissant intersects with Canfield Drive, where Michael Brown was killed. A memorial was erected where his body lay on the street for four hours.

West Florissant has been declining for many years, a victim of white flight from the area. The St. Louis Great Streets Initiative was already looking into revamping West Florissant's commercial area and said in a study that it was not pedestrian-friendly or diverse.

Unlike South Florissant Road, there are no upscale restaurants here. There's a McDonald's and Chinese fast food. There's also a barbecue place that was very badly hit because of its location next to the QuikTrip gas station, which became ground zero for violent protests and was burned down.

Police armed with tear gas confronted protesters on West Florissant in August. In the weeks since, many businesses had removed the plywood boards covering their doors and windows, but now they are back up again in expectation of more unrest.

One place that has never been boarded up is the Ferguson Burger Bar & More. Owner Charles Davis puts his faith in God and in the community. He is confident he -- and West Florissant Avenue -- will be OK.

Read and see more about West Florissant:

Inside the #Ferguson Liquor and Market. The cameras here caught #MikeBrown on surveillance video.

A photo posted by Moni Basu (@mbasucnn) on

Boarded up businesses on West Florissant Avenue in #Ferguson want people to know they are open.

A photo posted by Moni Basu (@mbasucnn) on

The intersection of Canfield and West Florissant in #Ferguson. #MikeBrown was killed on Canfield.

A photo posted by Moni Basu (@mbasucnn) on

Snow covers the memorial for #MikeBrown on Canfield off West Florissant in #Ferguson.

A photo posted by Moni Basu (@mbasucnn) on

A ribbon of hope flutters in the wind at the burned down Quiktrip on West Florissant in #Ferguson.

A photo posted by Moni Basu (@mbasucnn) on

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