Soulard.com Article from 97

Originally published on Monday, March 31, 1997.

SITE SEEING SOULARD HAS INTERNET POSTING TO PROMOTE ITS NEIGHBORHOOD

By Dan Mihalopoulos Of The Post-Dispatch Staff

The quickest way to get to Soulard no longer means taking Broadway south from downtown and hanging a right after you pass the public market.

From any computer on Earth with Internet access, just ride your World Wide Web browser to www.soulard.com.

There, at "Soulard - The Web Site," you can find out when the next neighborhood forum is, search for a garden apartment in a red-brick rehab or plug your favorite spot to enjoy Cajun cookin'.

The city's Internet gurus would like to see the rest of St. Louis join Soulard and a few other neighborhoods with Web sites on the virtual bandwagon. The city is busy training residents on how they can establish their neighborhoods on the Web.

The last 90-minute introduction to the Internet is at 7 tonight at Ha rrison Center, 4666 Natural Bridge Road. The presentations will culminate in the city's first Neighborhood Web Fair - promoted as "a good old-fashioned Internet barn-raising" - on May 4 at Forest Park Community College.

"I think we're tapping into a real curiosity that exists in these neighborhoods," said Chad Cooper, who helps maintain the city's Web site for the St. Louis Development Corp.

The city home page already includes information on each neighborhood, including data from the 1990 U.S. Census and phone numbers for aldermen. But the neighborhood home pages that emerge from the Web Fair should better reflect each community's uniqueness.

The city won't dictate the content. After tonight's presentation, residents will spend April gathering information they want to put on their neighborhood's Web site. At the Web Fair, they will put whatever they want to on the Web - for the whole world to see.

"Neighborhoods know how to tell their stories better than we can," Cooper said. "They can enliven their neighborhood's Web site."

Kerri Bonasch is president of the South Hampton Neighborhood Association and a participant in the Web Fair. Among the features she expects her neighborhood's home page to boast are:

Information on schools, churches, temples, businesses.

Photos of typical homes.

Resident association news and announcements.

Historical background.

"To me, the Web site won't replace personal interaction," Bonasch said. "Certainly, it's going to enhance it."

Bonasch said she plans to go to the Missouri Historical Society to find out more about her neighborhood's history. She'll then share her research with whoever visits the Web site.

Neighborhood home pages could include such information as bus schedules, contacts at recreation centers, health centers, welfare offices and other public services.

The Lafayette Square neighborhood's home page includes a virtual tour of an older, rehabbed house. And the bulletin board on the Soulard home page, while trumpeting meetings geared toward current residents, has also become a favorite haunt of former residents waxing nostalgic.

"I miss Soulard so much," wrote IorRa1@aol.com in a recent posting to the www.soulard.com.

 

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