Monday, October 31, 2011

Busch Stadium and the Architectural Legacy of St.. Louis

I was going to do this post about two years ago, but then I completely forgot. I thought to commemorate the Cardinals' eleventh World Series victory, I would look at the third Busch Stadium and how it borrows and celebrates earlier architectural monuments in St. Louis.First, and perhaps the most obvious, is the Eads Bridge, one of the most important bridges in the world; as you can see, the main entrances to Busch feature giant arches reminiscent of the bridge.See more of historic bridges here, from some of my earlier posts.Likewise, the ornamental terrcotta panels clearly show the influence of the Merchants Laclede Building on Fourth Street, once nicknamed the Wall Street of the Midwest.Look at more of St. Louis and other cities' historic office buildings here.Finally and perhaps the most obvious, the nearby Cupples Warehouses influence the overall composition of the stadium.I was remarking this weekend about how important the Cardinals are to St. Louis; in a metropolitan area where it is a spectator sport to try and watch the city fail, no one dares lay a hand on the one of the most storied teams in baseball. They can take away 500,000 people, but they can't take away the Cardinals.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I wish I could go back in time and tell the mayor of St. Louis that he was making the biggest mistake of his life by building the interstates through the heart of the city. Sixty years later, our nation is addicted to a product that can only be procured through great expense or from nations who use the revenue to oppress their own people, or even attack us. And more importantly, the interstates eviscerated the city, robbing it of cohesion, thousands of houses, and customers who would have added millions in tax dollars every year.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Smulekoffs Furniture, Downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I love this furniture store in downtown Cedar Rapids. Look at that sign stretching up the side of the building.It's been jazzed up in the 1950's by taking an older building and adding some Modernist touches.Such as removing the first floor walls and putting in large plate glass windows and streamlined aluminum detailing.Even the doors received a jazzing up in the renovation.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quaker Oats Factory, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

I love these old factories, like the Quaker Oats Factory; they're so massive and convey a sense of strength and confidence.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Holy Trinity Church, Hyde Park

Almost exactly three years later, I returned and took some photographs of Holy Trinity Church in Hyde Park. The first time was a dramatic, sunny midday shoot, while this time the long, golden rays of light from the setting sun cast the church in a totally different way.It's a strange, but beautiful Gothic Revival church, with a profusion of rose windows on the nave, and not just on the front facade and transepts. The great thing about 19th Century revival styles is that the architects frequently did whatever they wanted, breaking rules as it suited them.Above, St. Michael slaying the dragon adorns a pinnacle of a flying buttress, while below is one of the most fascinating and unique depictions of the Holy Trinity, where God the Father replaces the Virgin Mary in a Pieta scene. The Holy Spirit looks on from above.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Salisbury Street: New Lease on Life

My favorite (and many others) commercial building in North St. Louis is being renovated by the city. I am very excited that the heart of Hyde Park will see new development that is conscious of the historic context of the neighborhood.Fresh plywood indicates which buildings will be renovated.I love the original late 19th Century cast iron pillars, which will be graced by fresh paint soon.I also get a kick out of the last renovation, which attempted to cloak historic building in fake colonial revival decoration.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ash Pits

Keith Raske was kind enough to provide me with a couple of photos of mysterious cement tubs located in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood. As best as I can tell, they were ash pits, where homeowners would dump the ashes from their coal fired furnaces. I have seen a couple of these in my own neighborhood, and they were obviously once more common. It's hard to believe that is was only fifty to sixty years ago that people were still burning coal in their furnaces.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chicago and Rock Island Railroad Bridge

This is the bridge that killed St. Louis's long term hopes of competing against Chicago, built in 1856 between Davenport, Iowa and Rock Island, Illinois.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Destruction, College Hill

I read about this devastated block on Exploring St. Louis, and I headed up to check it out myself.Seriously, what does it take for a street to make it to this level of destruction? I lecture frequently in my classes about the abandonment of Rome, and how whole sections were left empty because there were simply no people to live there. Is that what we are witnessing here? The decline of a civilization?I have to admit every time I come to the College Hill neighborhood, I get depressed. It is so desolate, so mysterious and so overgrown that I can't imagine this as ever being a bustling neighborhood.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Davenport, Iowa

I was able to photograph a little bit of Davenport recently while on a trip there; I'll definitely need to make it back and see some more.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Amana, Iowa

Originally what was essentially a religiously based commune, the Amana Colonies are a popular tourist destination in central Iowa.The commune ended back in the 1930's, but Amana Appliances are still produced in the town.The architecture is sturdy, mainly stone instead of the ubiquitous red brick common in the Midwest.The structures are simple, in keeping with the communal lifestyle that demanded every meal to be eaten with the entire group.The meeting house is long, relatively unadorned and lacking any grand entrance.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Oxford, Iowa

I bet you always wondered where Ashton Kutcher was from, didn't you? The town of Oxford, Iowa, also has some great buildings on its main street as well.I love how the building below has a strange, round window right in the middle of its front wall; there are many unique architectural varieties in Iowa, probably the work of individual masons who imprinted their personal style on buildings.I love driving into small towns in Iowa and finding unique buildings.

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