Pillars of the Valley
Pillars of the Valley
Former residents of Mill Creek Valley celebrate at the art unveiling February 16, 2023, 64 years to the day after the first wrecking ball struck in the neighborhood.
Pillars of the Valley, a commemorative permanent public art installation, commemorates the once-thriving Mill Creek Valley neighborhood, which was destroyed (and 20,000 Black residents displaced) in the name of “urban renewal”. This art installation was created by Damon Davis with support from partners Great Rivers Greenway, St. Louis CITY SC, City of St. Louis, Counterpublic and Harris-Stowe State University. The Pillars were thoughtfully curated with input from former residents and current stakeholders, plus support and expertise from institutions like The Griot Museum of Black History and Missouri Historical Society and contributions from donors. Learn more about Mill Creek Valley here.
Right now, the work is at 22nd and Market at CITYPARK Stadium. It will expand down one mile of Market Street to Compton Avenue in 2024/2025, more info here.
Hourglass-shaped monoliths holding time and the soil still
These monoliths are a testament to the people who lived in Mill Creek Valley.
Inside each pillar is a quote from someone who lived in the neighbodhood.
Because their stories had been buried for so long, artist Damon Davis wants visitors to put in the effort to unearth their voices.
A map, a statement and a list
On a large granite slab sits the name, age and occupation of everyone who once lived on this block of Market Street. Damon Davis’ artist statement is also here.
A map shows what Mill Creek Valley looked like in the 1940s/50s, showcasing in gold the four buildings that remain standing. The back of the plinth is a relief of what the Mill Creek Valley watershed looked like.
Benches and bushes outline the plot lines
The landscaping along the greenway literally outlines the homes and businesses that once stood on this block, showing the dense, walkable neighborhood that once was.
Etched into the concrete is the address of that parcel from before demolition.
Bringing this story to life for everyone
A tactile model and an overview in raised text and braille lets people with low or no vision experience the artwork.
Game days at CITYPARK (home of St. Louis CITY SC) include learning about the history of this place. Walking tours and programs will continue to bring the stories to life.
If you missed the February 16th dedication event, see the full remarks here:
Want to hear more from the partners involved? Dive into the panel discussion from October 2021: