Repurposed parking meter in St. Louis (BS File Photo)
Repurposed parking meter in St. Louis (BS File Photo)
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Repurposed parking meter in St. Louis (BS File Photo)
Repurposed parking meter in St. Louis. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

The last time I stopped by St. Louis—my old college town—I noticed a new addition to the streetscape of the picturesque Central West End’s Euclid Avenue. Bright green parking meters have been repurposed through the Real Change program to collect pocket change for the city’s social services.

Here’s a little more about the program:

The Central West End Association and the City of St. Louis have announced the launch of the “Real Change” campaign. The goal of the campaign is to discourage the random giving of money to panhandlers while encouraging contributions to local social service providers. The campaign is conjuction with a new city ordinance restricting panhandling.

Parking meters donated by the St. Louis Treasurer’s Office have been installed at four locations in the Central West End. These meters will be used to collect change that will be distributed to area service providers. In addition, neighborhood businesses will distribute cards informing residents and visitors of the campaign and encouraging participation in ‘real change.’

A similar program has been in effect in Montreal since 2007. They even had a campaign this year to decorate the meters. The St. Louis program started with four meters and the Montreal program has grown to about 70 meters across the city. It appears these meters are popping up in cities across the country from Chattanooga to Laguna Beach.

After Louisville replaced its old parking meters with newer digital versions a few years ago, obsolete meters have been for sale for $125 at the Louisville Store (now on sale for half off). Perhaps a few of the countless thousands of old meters could be used for a similar program?

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Branden Klayko

Founder and Editor at Broken Sidewalk
Branden founded Broken Sidewalk in 2008 while practicing architecture in Louisville. He continued the site for seven years while living in New York City, returning to Louisville in 2016. Branden is a graduate of the College of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis, and has covered architecture, design, and urbanism for The Architect's Newspaper, Designers & Books, Inhabitat, and the American Institute of Architects.
Branden Klayko

5 COMMENTS

  1. What a fantastic idea, and I think it would be great to do in Downtown Louisville. What organization in the city could take the lead on something like this?

  2. I like the idea of the repurposed meters, but is there any move towards creating a glut of older meters by replacing the current ones with the more advanced multi-meter versions that some other cities are adopting for parking? I think there would be a definite learning curve involved because people would have to know that they needed to walk to the main box to get their ticket. But being able to use bills, change or credit cards is a big plus. Also the streets are less cluttered, if that is a concern.

  3. I truly hope the panhandling committee puts this into action soon. I’m tiring of watching the panhandlers solicit from tourists/convention attendees/’those who don’t know what else to do but give something to make them go away’. These people then go into the deli across the street, get their bottle, drink behind our building in the alley and then pee in the parking lot next door or worse yet, in front of our building. The meters won’t solve the problem but may move us closer.

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