Built St. Louis
June 12, 2003 1:36 AM   Subscribe

Built St. Louis. The historic architecture of St. Louis, Missouri, its ruins, and its wondrous anachronisms.
posted by plep (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'll personally testify to the copious amounts of old and intricate architecture sitting neglected in downtown St. Louis, having grown up in the place. My dad loves to wander the streets photographing the detailed stone and brick work that lies sometimes in plain sight and sometimes hidden around the city... I'll definitely be sending this link his way.

Good find, plep.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:37 AM on June 12, 2003

This is one of my most favorite sites on the Internet. I'm from the St. Louis area and still consider it home even though I live more than a hundred miles away in Columbia. While in college I worked in downtown St. Louis in the summers, and I would usually spend my lunch breaks wandering and driving around gawking at the architecture. I was both overjoyed at the beauty and saddened by the state of it all. I tried taking photographs, but I couldn't even approach the exhastiveness of the work Mr. Powers does for his site with just a manual Pentax K-1000 camera.

This site used to be hosted on many freebie Geocities and Angelcities sites. I felt like the site needed to be "rescued," and somehow I managed to convince my downtown St. Louis employer to host the site, even though there was a potential conflict of interest -- they're an engineering firm that is just as happy engineering either the construction, renovation, or destruction of a building. In fact, they've bid and worked on both the destruction and renovation of many buildings on the site. One great example of renovation is the gorgeous art-deco Continental Building.

St. Louis is definitely not alone in the "signifigant, crumbling architecture" category. This fabulous site documents downtown Detroit, MI.
posted by zsazsa at 5:32 AM on June 12, 2003

Gaah! Preempted! Always wanted to post this (it's my hometown too), but thought it was too specific! Well, if this stands on its own, then I've got something else coming right up...
posted by tss at 6:07 AM on June 12, 2003

Jeez. This may be the first time I've been homesick for St. Louis since moving out West thirty years ago. Quite a town, architecturally speaking. And it's true about the riverfront...it's one of the crappiest treatments of a great river in the whole country. Agreed, it developed as an industrial site more than as a Mark Twain memento, but the city made the effort to develop the old warehouse district (and others) just as have many other cities (like Denver.) Why couldn't they do something with the riverfront?

I'm fowarding this to my siblings, who have emigrated to San Francisco, New York, Minneapolis and...Creve Coeur.
posted by kozad at 6:11 AM on June 12, 2003

Other St. Louis oddments, from a transplanted Chicagoan...

`Highway 40? Pronounced "Highway FARTY".

`Most asked question? "What high school did you go to?" In one swoop, a St. Louisian can determine your race, social class, probable level of income, where your parents are from, name half your friends, and can probably give you an outline version of your life up through yesterday.

`You can't buy a hotdog in this town. I don't know why, and I can't get anyone to give me an answer. I ask, they get a scared look in their eye and qucikly move away. There was some horrible hotdog-related incident in the past, that no one is willing to talk about. I mean to find out what happened and why.

`One hour in any direction? Corn. A sea of it.

`"Cracker-crust" pizza. They love it here. It's wrong on so many levels. Also? They put american cheese on pizza here.

`Tons of fabulous babes. I can't explain it.

`No mafia! The last organized crime bunch was run by an incompetent so completely inept he got sent to prison for running a gin rummy game (this was before gambling was legal and we got like 4 gambling boats). After he went up, the remaining dumkopfs duked it out for supremecy. Neither side won.

`"Hoosier" means "redneck," not "Indianan." And there are a lot of them, mostly citygoats.

`Still has debutante society, like we're in Savannah or something. AND it's reported on in the local magazines.

`Lots of smaller music venues = REO Speedwagon is coming! A lot!
posted by UncleFes at 6:54 AM on June 12, 2003 [1 favorite]

Thanks, plep. I love urban environment sites. Those water stand pipes are amazing things, especially the Corinthian column one.
posted by carter at 7:29 AM on June 12, 2003

It's not American cheese on the pizza--it's provel. Mmmm.... Imo's. One item on a fairly short list of the things I miss post-emigration. Most all of which, come to think of it, are food-related.
posted by clever sheep at 7:39 AM on June 12, 2003

I'll take toasted ravioli over a hot dog any day, Fes. St. Screwy is one of my favorite MidWestern cities. Beats that pants off of Kansas City any day. Is the zoo still free? A nice, free, large zoo is a great resource for any city. Very cool place.

I have, however, each time I've been to St. Louis, crossed the MLK bridge over to ESL on accident. Not recommended.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:48 AM on June 12, 2003

Well, now I guess I know who my neighbors are - we oughta have a MeFi St. Louisan day some time.

Responses to things already written:
-Imo's uses a provelone-cheese blend, called Provel, on their pizza. The parent company (every Imo's is a franchise) actually made its fortune on this cheese blend. The pizza is greasy cheese on matzo, but I love it (helps that I grew up within nose-shot of a delivery place).
-The riverfront consists of the Arch grounds, which are nice enough, and Laclede's Landing, an old waterfront rough-area that's now all a) touristy b) fulla frat boys. I hate it.
-I can't explain the high school thing. I'm guilty of it sometimes , but I'm just trying to find connections, usually.
-Babes? huh? I thought the "incongruous amount of babes" award went to Salt Lake City.
-There is *too* a mafia. It's just Lebanese, not Eye-talian. After soemone one in my sister's grade (gradeschool) was almost hit by a car on a local thoroughfare, one of her classmates (whose g-pa ran the rackets) promised to get something done. Mind you, the kid's in sixth grade. Within three days, there was a new traffic light, pedestrian crossing stripes, and no parking signs on the side of the street. Yeah, there's still some power.

St. Louis is still very parochial - each area is looking out for iself so much that wewind up arguing instead of getting anything that might be good for the community at large done. Then again, I was the only kid in grade school that wasn't Italian, Irish, or German-that's what South City still is.
posted by notsnot at 8:19 AM on June 12, 2003

According to some, the hot dog was invented in St. Louis at the 1904 World's Fair.

And, yes, the zoo, the art museum, and the science center are all vibrant and absolutely free. With that money you save you can then head downtown and check out the City Museum, which has an interesting exhibition of architectural elements saved from St. Louis buldings that have been long demolished. There's all kinds of great nooks and crannies there, including a cavelike playground of twisty passages for both kids and limber adults.
posted by zsazsa at 8:25 AM on June 12, 2003

I grew up in KC, and always looked at St. Louis with disdain, (it really was more of an Eastern city than a midwestern one). Thanks for sharing this site. A real shame all of those cool old buildings are falling into ruin.
posted by Windopaene at 8:31 AM on June 12, 2003

Toasted ravs are excellent (they're really breaded and deep fried, for you auslanders). I've had them dipped in wing sauce...? Electra.

Provel? Maybe. But I shit you not, I have seen an Imo's cracker crust with yellow cheese on it, and more than once. Provel isn't yellow, it's that same color as mozz. This was YELLOW. LIke cheddar, but wasn't (no visible cheddar oil). I still think it was American.

Ufez, the MLK-ESL connection is mightily improved these days, due to the massive amounts of tax dough getting funnelled into ESL from the gambling boats. ESL is having a comeback - you want troublesomeness, you want Cahokia, National City, Brooklyn (nothing new there) and, lately, West Belleville.

Lebanese mafia? Puh-leeze. We're 250 miles from Chicago here, there ought to be some friggin cosa nostra here. It's unseemly.

Not to be an elitest snoblette, but the St. Louis Symphony, albeit not free, is excellent. For my aristocrat dollar, it rivals New York or Atlanta. And they still have $10 seats. They're smack upside the stage to the far right, but hey, $10

I'm going to the the best brewpup in St. Louis today for lunch!

We ought have a St. Louis meetup. Nights aren't great for me (maybe a Friday night) but a 2-hour lunch somewhere during the week...?
posted by UncleFes at 9:18 AM on June 12, 2003

I kinda like it... mostly because I used to live in Florida. Practically speaking, there are no roaches here. Spiders yes. Worms and frogs, yes (our house is next to a drainage canal). Mice, bunnies, skunks, and other vermin, yes.

But I'll take all of them plus the Lebanese mafia, over roaches and blind elderly drivers.
posted by Foosnark at 9:37 AM on June 12, 2003

Can I just say this is one of the reasons I love MeFi?

The occasional glimpse into the local look of a place I've never been (unless an hour changeover in the St. Louis bus station eight years ago counts) but would love to know more about is really neat. (Lileks' Minneapolis Site and Old Toronto deserve mention here too.)

Because interesting stuff from other places is cool.
posted by chicobangs at 3:01 PM on June 12, 2003

oh, and...

-I've lived here my whole life, and still occasionally make accidental visits to ESL.

-Uncle: I hear al the bridge rework they're planning is not gonna be n the budget for another 6-8 years. Yay.
-Mmmmmm, Schlafly beer. My (ex?) g/f only drinks Bud, but even she was enjoying some of the Tap Room's brews last week.

-re: meetups...I tutor from 4:30-7:30 during the week (and all day on Friday) but am free whenever else. Unemployed engineer, ya know - hey, anyone need their car worked on? I'm cheap.

-yellow cheese - that's the grease, man.
posted by notsnot at 4:03 PM on June 12, 2003

it really was more of an Eastern city than a midwestern one

I found St Louis seemed like an eastern city to westerners, a northern city to southerners, a southern city to northerners, a western city to easterners ....quintessentially in the center of the country mentally as well as physically. A few decades ago it was, in fact, the exact population center.
posted by lathrop at 12:43 PM on June 13, 2003

Cool site!

Also see here for the disaster that was Pruitt-Igoe and a theory on why it was so bad.
posted by ukamikanasi at 6:15 PM on June 13, 2003

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