Time to Launch the Book


The Launch Party for

Walking South City: 

A Journey Through Historic St. Louis Neighborhoods

 In his book about a 45-mile walk around St. Louis’s South Side, Jim Merkel crafts a thorough depiction of the quirks and gems of the area. Grab your walking shoes, follow along, and get ready to look at South City in a way you never have before.

1-3 p.m. May 21 Shaw’s Coffee 5147 Shaw Avenue St. Louis MO 63110


Reserve a seat by emailing

[email protected]


More Praise for Walking South City

This sculpture of an Italian immigrant family is in front of St. Ambrose Catholic Church on the Hill.

Recently, I posted some testimonials about Walking South City: A Journey Through Historic St. Louis Neighborhoods from area leaders. Here are some more.

This is a book that will interest anyone who is curious about the rich history of South St. Louis. It makes me look forward to expanding my daily walks through the city!  Jenny Gerstner, former President and Current Office ManagerShaw Neighborhood Improvement Association

As Jim Merkel has discovered in his essay, the most valuable resource that our community has is the cohesiveness and loyalty of the families who remained here over the many years of our Dogtown history, !John Corbett President, Dogtown Historical Society

Drawing on anecdotal and historical roots, this book does a great job capturing a point-of-view glimpse into the past and present of South St. Louis.  Each page reads like a real time stroll down the streets and alleys of storied old neighborhoods, offering endearing snapshots of city life then and now.  Jim Merkel provides a commemorative tribute to an ever-evolving urban landscape.
– Randy Vines Co-Owner STL-Style House

“Cyrus Crane Willmore had a visionary dream for St. Louis Hills. Journey with Jim Merkel and feel with him the mosaic of this thriving historical neighborhood! Experience how Willmore’s dream was realized and became a beautiful living legacy!   Nancy Vordtriede President St. Louis Hills Neighborhood Association

The book looks to be an enjoyable read and I look forward to reading the final version when it’s published.  You’ve got an appealing writing style and I’m sure readers will enjoy retracing your steps and developing a new appreciation for the surrounding landscape.  Andrew Hurley Professor of history at University of Missouri–St. Louis, specializing in urban history. 

There’s one sad part. You can’t buy it until June. Look for details about events, including my megafantastic book launch party.

What They’re Saying About Walking South City

We asked some locals to tell us what they think about portions of “Walking South City. ” Wow. Here’s what three said.

Reading Merkel’s travel log, you get a real sense of not only what this world is like now but how it once was.  I have read many of Merkel’s books and this is the best of the lot.  Walking South City belongs on the bookshelf of all South St. Louisans—whether they are Southsiders by birth or by choice—who want to have a better understanding of not only their city but their culture.
Mark Abbott Professor Harris-Stowe State University

Thank you Jim for letting me read this portion of your book. I am not a historian but found myself flooded with very fond memories of the great businesses that used to be and the wonderful neighborhoods and businesses that still remain. What a fascinating walk through South St. Louis! I felt I was walking with you! It really is good!                                                       

  • Travis Dillon Co-Owner,Ted Drewes

iJm Merkel once again shares his love and fascination with his favorite topic, South St. Louis.  Looking forward to reading about his new discoveries and perspectives in this wonderful and historic area of our city.
– Guy Slay Developer and Community Leader, the Grove

I can’t wait for this summer, when you can buy a copy and write your own Five-Star review!

Stellar! Wow!

i got a gold star.

Years ago, an editor reacted to the a manuscript I’d written by writing “Congratulations on a well-written first draft.” Then as I recall, he demanded all kinds of changes. That’s the way it is with writing. .For my latest book, Walking South City, my editor has demanded change after change. I imagine It’s not much different with other authors and their editors. You shouldn’t take things seriously., because that’s the process.

For my book, about a walk I took through South St. Louis, my editor insisted on something like eight drafts for one chapter. Readers will appreciate that my editor wants it right.

But it’s great when you get it right the first time. So it is with his reaction to my prologue, in which I explain some of the reasons why my route looks like it does. “Stellar. Excellent Job,” he emailed me. As somebody who didn’t get many A’s, that made me feel stellar.

Next spring, you’ll have a chance to read the book. Here’s hoping you think it’s stellar.

Don’t Use a GPS for this One

Street namers weren’t always good spellers.

One notable South Side thoroughfare is Itaska Street. The city named it for the lake in Minnesota that is the true source of the Mississippi River. A handy tip: don’t try to find an address on “Itaska Street” by saying it into a phone with a GPS app. That’s because the lake in Minnesota is actually spelled Lake Itasca, not Itaska. Not knowing about the misspelling of the St. Louis city street, the GPS may insist on leading you to the lake in Minnesota.

You won’t read facts like that in any walking guide of South St. Louis, only in my oddball tour of the South Side. Don’t miss it when it comes out early in 2023.

Is that a tree? Or a huge twig?

You wouldn’t find this tallish stump on a trail in far southeast Carondelet Park in other walking tours of South St. Louis. But it will be in my tour book next year, because my book will be unlike any other. Stripped of bark, branches and any hint of a green canopy, it resembles the biggest twig I’ve ever seen. Don’t miss it when it comes out next year. It’s the strangest book I’ve ever written.

A new book about oddball South St. Louis

The fountain in Boathouse Lake

I’m thrilled to announce Reedy Press soon will release a new book by me, possibly later this year. In Scenes From South City, I’ll give a somewhat crackpot look at what I saw in about 50 miles of walks through the South Side. In seventeen chapters of about three miles each, all traipsed in 2021, I tell about the usual stuff: the parks, the stores, the best houses. To that, I’ll add the graffiti, the oddball artwork, the stuff you didn’t know about before.

You’ll learn about it in an oddball way you’ve never seen before. Keep watching this space for updates. I can’t wait for you to read it.

Artwork from a city park decorated with gravestones.

My Facebook Group About St. Louis Kids

Right before Growing Up St. Louis came out at the beginning of April of 2020, my publisher suggested I ought to do a Facebook group to match it. Okay, I groaned to myself, thinking that was one more thing to do as I sold the book. Amazingly, the group called Growing Up St. Louis – what else? – turned out to be one of the most fun parts of the “after publication” portion of writing Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades.

Several times a week, I’ve sat down and feasted on some wonderful pictures of kids in and around St. Louis from the on-line photo archives of the Missouri Historical Society. Then a growing membership added more photos. One rule applied: the pictures had to be taken at least 40 years ago, and they had to include a kid. That kept the focus on the younger set. Members added comments that made it more fun. Even better, we kept out politics and anything controversial. Nobody talked about grim stuff like COVID-19. Yey!

I got to know some regulars. The last time I checked, we had 1,666 members. It may not be viral – yet – but still shows there’s a lot of people out there who love reminiscing about how it was to be a kid in St. Louis. As we celebrate a new year together, I’ll thank all of our members, but I’ll especially thank my publisher Josh Stevens for a fantastic idea.

Between the paragraphs, and below, without the captions, are a few of my favorite photos that appeared in the group last year. I’d invite you to visit the group and see the pictures in context. Then please consider liking it so you get it all the time.

Give the Gift of St. Louis

If you’re still looking for that perfect gift, your answer might be Growing Up St. Louis or one of my other books. They all provide a special look at the people and history of the Gateway City that everybody on your list will love.

On Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 5 and 6, you’ll have a chances to buy autographed copies at three different locations in South St. Louis. I’ll sign from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, at Elder’s Antiques, 2124 Cherokee St, St. Louis, MO; from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday at The Royale Food & Spirits, 3132 S. Kingshighway Blvd.; from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday at Abigail’s Gift Boutique, 5611 Hampton Ave., and from 4-7 p.m. on Sunday at Taha’a Twisted Tiki, 4199 Manchester Ave.

You also can buy it online,at https://merkels-books-and-things.square.site/ Or else, you can come to my porch and pick out books well away from anybody else. Perfectly safe! Just email me at [email protected] to set up a time.

Whatever book you choose, it’ll be perfect for the friend or relative who gets it. Or for yourself!

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