Thursday, December 30, 2010

Union Trust, Downtown

The lesser known of the two remaining Louis Sullivan buildings in St. Louis is a gem, even if it's hard to photograph it in its entirety. I guess it's a good thing there are other building blocking the view, in the overall scheme of things.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

How Important Is a City's Link with Its River? A Look at Rome, Italy

All the discussion recently about the new Arch Grounds competition and how St. Louis has lost its soul by being disconnected from the Mississippi River raised some interesting questions in my mind. I started thinking about how various cities that I've visited around the world embrace their natural environment, and in this case, I'll focus on rivers.In the case of Rome, Italy, a large river, the Tiber, flows through the city. AS is the case, I think, with every major city that has a river flowing through it, the river played a major role in the city even existing. In the case of Rome, the Tiber Island, pictured above, served as a ford over the river, creating a natural nexus for trade in the Latium region.Sometime back in the Nineteenth Century, the city's residents became tired of the disastrous floods that would erupt over the Tiber's banks from time to time, and essentially built large retaining walls that block off not only access, but any real use for the citizens of the city. In all the times I have walked along the Tiber, I have never seen anyone other than vagrants walking along the lower promenade; locals see it as a no-man's land where there is no real reason to go. See the river flowing through Rome from the air here. As is common in other cities, such as along Berlin's Landwehrkanal, Rome's traffic engineers built two, one-way roads on either side of the new river embankments, further isolating the Tiber from its city.And you know what? The city of Rome is still a bustling, culturally rich and amazing city despite it. It poses the question, if the city is functioning perfectly fine up on the river banks, how important is it, really, that the city be connected to its river?Improvements to St. Louis's riverfront are needed, but it will not be a cure-all to what still ails the city. The real work must be out in the neighborhoods, where people live and work, and have to spend their lives. The age of the "Jolly Flatboatmen" is gone, and we must live with the present.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

National Stockyards' Pre-Columbian History

It turns out there was a major Mississippian culture city under the National Stockyards around one thousand years ago. Read the article here before it expires at the Post-Dispatch website.

Monday, December 27, 2010

St. Louis: Playground to the Entire Region

Why does it seem like everyone who wants to engage in illegal activity feel the need to come down to the City of St. Louis to cause trouble? I've started to notice--and it's a trend that certainly has been going on for a long time--that many of the high profile crimes in the city recently have been committed by non-St. Louis City residents.

Take the drag race on the Near North Riverfront a few weeks ago where a teenage girl was hit by two other teenagers racing by her. Neither of the drivers, using open, public streets that any innocent person could have wandered into in the middle of their race, were from St. Louis City. One suspect was from Glen Carbon, the other from South St. Louis County. After scanning Google Maps, I located several places where these young ruffians could have engaged in their 'sport' without having to drive to the big, dark, scary city:

Bluff Road looks like the perfect place for young Trenton Pinckard to have raced his car without having to put the citizens of another municipality in danger.

Likewise, William Mack Sapp could have easily "kicked butt" in a drag race along arrow-straight Union Road; the curve over the I-55 interstate bridge could make racing there have a new twist.

As I arrived for work at the Art Museum, I stepped over beer bottles left by revelers on Art Hill who had come to sled on its famous slope. Since when did the City have to absorb all of the region's troublemakers? Couldn't they cause trouble in their own communities?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunnyside Up #2

Here is the second installment of my finding a sunnyside-up egg on the ground. See the first one here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas at Fourth Baptist

Regardless of your religious views, you have to admit that it's a shame that the tradition of celebrating Christmas at Fourth Baptist Church came to an end in 2008. For another year since the devastating fire, there will be no Christmas service at the church. Will Christmas ever be celebrated within its walls again?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

St. Liborius, St. Louis Place

St. Liborius, despite lacking its original steeple, is a sight to behold. See a picture of its original steeple here, at the Archdiocesan website.Perhaps one day, when the street is reborn, the steeple can be replaced, as it was in Washington, DC, in a similar style church.The church once anchored what must have been a stunning streetscape, now almost completely obliterated or replaced with vinyl-sided houses that are already showing their age, 10-15 years after their construction. One day, I'm sure, St. Liborius will stare down the street at a new, and hopefully better built, generation of houses.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Old North, Land Reutilization Authority Houses

People often talk about how absentee landlords are a major problem for the city, but it's not always so simple.These are LRA properties (a city agency), according to signage on the buildings and the City Assessor's Property Database. I like the pile of illegally dumped tires.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

St. Louis Place, Wastelands

The east side of St. Louis Place has really been devastated since the first time I went up to the area. Streets that once had numerous houses on them--enough to provide the framework for a revitalized streetscape one day--are now completely barren. Above is Montgomery Street, now completely obliterated.Likewise, above is the block of Wright Street that once had several beautiful houses, including the stunning apartment building that was the last to fall.Above, a year ago I asked the question, "How long before these two beautiful walls are harvested for their brick?" The answer is clear, as the beautiful Italianate rowhouse has been hit hard, and is in danger of collapse. Seriously, no one noticed this right on busy St. Louis Avenue?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Brick Rustling, Northern St. Louis Place

I decided to check out the blocks around St. Augustine this weekend, as the weather was clear and the sky was a rich blue color. Below, this really wonderful turreted store building is further deteriorating, and almost certain to fall apart due to either natural or man-made causes.The forlorn block of Hebert is almost completely gone; other than the interior walls, there is next to nothing left of these once beautiful houses.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Church, Maeystown, Illinois

I don't know much about this historic church in Maeystown, Illinois, but it's set on a beautiful location, high above the town.The columns on the interior came from the Pullis Brothers foundry in St. Louis, near where Purina is now.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Near North Riverfront

I can't believe how much potential lives in the area just north of Laclede's Landing. Beautiful, relatively stable warehouses await adaptive reuse, but with the economy in the tank, I am afraid that this will take some time.I'm more worried about the casino wanting these buildings torn down so none of their faint-hearted patrons might have to endure the sight of an abandoned building, as has already doomed the cold storage warehouse torn down two years ago.With the departure of Sligo Steel, the area grows even more desolate.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Kahoka Courthouse Threatened with Demolition

Thanks to Missouri Preservation, I learned today that the Clark County Courthouse is threatened with demolition. Because you know, in these robust economic times, we can afford to tear down perfectly fine, if purposely dilapidated buildings at our whim. See my original post here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Out of Lemp Photos

Sorry, I'm out of Lemp Brewery pictures. But I have a link to a great site that my coworker Joe Sardo told me about; it has historic photos from around America. See it here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

City Garden, Successful Urban Renewal

I wish the historic buildings that used to stand here were still here, but since they're not, we have to come up with some sort of solution to fill the void.I think the City Garden is a great example of where well planned and executed design can add a lot to a downtown. We must keep it properly funded, though.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Old Cathedral

The Old Cathedral sits in bizarre isolation, never intended to sit by itself, but rather buffeted by buildings most of its existence.The only intact survivor of the clearance of the original street grid of St. Louis, it nonetheless is an attractive building.Built in the Greek Revival style, it certainly must have been stunning when first built.There was a wedding going on, so I didn't get a chance to photograph the interior during this trip.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Corrosion, Gateway Arch

Much ado recently has been made of the corrosion of the Gateway Arch, now coming up on its 50th Anniversary.I don't know why I had never noticed it before, but blemishes are clearly visible on the legs of the Arch.While Modernist structures are often regarded as "new," it bears reminding that many of these buildings are not new at all anymore, and will require careful conservation in the coming decades.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Top Floor, Lemp Brewery

The top floor of the power plant is a stunning space, one that no longer exists in present-day industrial construction, as a reader of this site noted last week.I am strongly suspecting the power plant was built after the brewery closed; carefully looking for sign scars on the smokestack, I can only find the International Shoe Company logo. Surely the Lemps would have put their name on the smokestack first?I love the steel trusses in this room, and how they were left exposed to show the structure of the building.I have no idea what this room was used for, or how it functioned in the use of the brewery as a warehouse for shoes. Supposedly, shoes were also manufactured here as well, but I don't have a reliable source to confirm that.

A Blog detailing the beauty of St. Louis architecture and the buildup of residue-or character-that accumulates over the course of time.