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