Sunday, August 29, 2021

St. Louis

Despite all the pictures in the last post here, we did see more of St. Louis besides the Arch. But I didn't bring a camera into most of the other places we visited (like Busch Stadium or the Zoo). One afternoon we drove away from downtown and visited Crown Candy Kitchen, a cute little restaurant we saw featured on a TV show. The food was good (Jonah was excited about the ice cream and candy), although none of us were brave enough to order the sandwich with 14 pieces of bacon on it.

On the way up there, we passed by a good number of interesting old buildings. Of course I didn't have a camera with me - they were resting back at the hotel. Now I do realize it takes a certain level of person to fall in love with and to be married to a photographer. Someone with infinite levels of patience and grace, who will let an absent-minded person drift off into thoughts of driving around looking for photogenic old buildings. Luckily I married one of those saintly people. And after lunch, Caroline said she would look after Jonah for a bit if I wanted to go and take a few pictures. So I took her up on the offer and hurried to get a few pictures while they visited the City Museum.

So with cameras in hand, I backtracked by some of the neat old buildings that we drove by earlier.








Of course I wasn't the only one out there with a camera....


This graffiti was on a nearby building, which just made me think of the poor sister in Parasite.


St. Louis has a deep history. The area that is now St. Louis was the home of the Native American Mississippian culture, who built massive mounds on both sides of the Mississippi River. The city of St. Louis was founded in 1763, and it would soon grow in prominence as the U.S. began moving into the western frontier. In 1904, St. Louis hosted both the World's Fair and the Olympics, and was the first city outside of Europe to host the games. The population of St. Louis peaked in 1950 at 856,000. But it has been steadily decreasing since then, with a current population sitting around 300,000 people.

The reasons for that population loss are many, and have been written about by people much more knowledgable about it than I am. But the evidence of that population loss is evident by the number of abandoned homes, many of which were built prior to World War II.




These neighborhoods are not empty, and I felt incredibly self-concious driving around taking pictures. I was some guy from out-of-state, running around taking pictures of the buildings that had been left behind in this area of the city. I didn't want to seem exploitative, since I do love finding and taking pictures of old buildings. But I really don't think anyone saw me or really cared that I was there, but I hated that someone might have thought I was there with bad intentions.


And another shot of the same building, but this one was with the infrared camera:


Nearby was this old Catholic church, which was built in 1889. Although the church has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it closed in the 1990s. The building has since been turned into a private skateboard park, with ramps and slopes installed where the congregation and altar once stood.


I stopped at a few other places nearby, like this old industrial-looking building:


And also this partially-burned old brick home.


Further down the road was this old block of homes. It would be amazing to know the history of this building, and the people who once lived here.



Nearby was another set of old homes, these completely covered with vines.


From there I headed back towards downtown and stopped at Union Station. The iconic station was built in 1904, and it became one of the largest and busiest train stations in the world.


Across the street from the station is the fountain called "The Meeting of the Waters." The fountain is meant to celebrate the meetings of the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers. The male figure represents the Mississippi River, while the female figure represents the Missouri. They are joined by 17 water spirits, which are symbolic of the 17 smaller streams that empty into the two rivers. The fountain sits in Aloe Plaza, and was installed in 1939. Since the two main statues are nude, I'm guessing it's named Aloe Plaza since that's what the naked statues would need to use after getting sunburned from having so much exposed skin.


There are a bunch of family-friendly attractions around Union Station, and we returned later that day with Jonah to go up in the Ferris wheel. The wheel stands 200 feet tall and provides some great views of Union Station and downtown St. Louis.


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