Saturday, March 31, 2012

Council Tower Brick Mural Complete

The scaffolding is just about all gone now, and the giant brick mural once again graces the side of this important landmark in Midtown.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Old North St. Louis, Late Afternoon

Yes, you can relax in North St. Louis without worrying about getting shot by drug dealers. I took these two photos while enjoying the waning hours of sunlight with some friends outside of the La Mancha Coffeehouse, which I encourage you to visit the next time you're in the Old North neighborhood.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

South Morganford

I normally don't get this far south in the city, but the broad avenues and neatly kept houses and apartments of the area always impress me when I do.
The buildings are a mixture of 1930's and 1940's architecture, and in particular, that mainstay of many St. Louis neighborhoods, the four family flat, comes to the height of its power of design in this area.
What's interesting is that most four families have pretty much the same floor plan, but with different fronts put on them, creating variety.
This gas station also shows that these businesses don't have to be ugly or generic, like so many are nowadays.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Vibrant Streetscapes at Grand and Gravois

The intersection of Grand and Gravois can be a bit intimidating, but looking closer, it's a teaming, vibrant mass of humanity of people from all over the world. What do the people from other countries, now making their home in the neighborhoods around South Grand, think of their built environment?
The Afghan market is a great example of an entrepreneur rebuilding after his other shop burned last year. He's back, and still in the neighborhood.
I love this terracotta element shop on Gravois; centuries after brick was first made in St. Louis, the red clay is still influencing the appearance of this city.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

City Hospital Power Plant, Reinvisioned

I can't say enough positive words about the renovation of the old City Hospital power plant into a bouldering facility, envisioned by two brothers and I think some of their friends.
Left as a ruin when the City Hospital was abandoned, the power plant is a landmark on the near south side.
The interior, while stripped of the bulky boilers that once filled the room, still contains some nice elements alluding to its industrial past, such as a giant gantry crane that still hangs over the lobby.
Below you can see several angles of the artificial "rock wall" that climbers can now tackle in the renovated space.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hancock Middle School Gymnasium, Revisited

I was out near Hancock Middle School, so I took some more pictures of the place.
While the rest of the building seems to have been torn down and replaced by two new additions, the original, iconic domed gymnasium seems to have garnered enough pride that it was spared.
Something I did not realize last time was that it has a wooden understructure.
Likewise, this is one of the coolest smokestacks I've ever seen.
Here is the old high school, which was apparently on the grounds of the current school.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Alswel, Revisted Again

A reader was kind enough to submit a higher resolution image of Alswel from the Meramec floodplain. I can't get enough of this house, and its unique legacy and appearance.
Photos courtesy of Wes Bradley

Friday, March 23, 2012

North Taylor Through Lewis Place and The Ville

Wow, what a difference a few blocks can make. Heading north on Delmar, there's the inevitable feeling that disinvestment has taken its toll on the neighborhoods.
I agree that it looks like brick thieves have moved west past Grand and have begun to hit houses seemingly right out in the open.
I think the building below might be the old parish house for the now gone Holy Ghost Church. It's a great building, though isolated now.
I know that one of these two buildings is seriously out of kilter, but each one told me it's the other one. Who to believe?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Mississippi River Bridge, Revisited

I've begun to spot the towers of the new Mississippi Bridge all over town, whether at the corner of Washington and 14th, or in the photo above, as I was driving eastbound down Natural Bridge Avenue south of Fairgrounds Park.
The two towers are proceeding rapidly, and I imagine next year they'll start to lay the bridge deck. While I'm not claiming this is the second coming of the hugely important Eads Bridge, I think it is notable that this is the first bridge across the Mississippi River at St. Louis since the 1960's, when the Poplar Street Bridge was built.
All this means permanent change for the empty land on both sides of the river, particularly the vast open spaces of the old National Stockyards. Will Armour Meat Packing Plant soon face the fate of its two comrades?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hunter Meat Packing Plant, Demolished at Last

I've watched the slow death of the Hunter Meat Packing Plant for close to four years now, and it's finally coming down into a pile of rubble, replaced at least for the time-being with a tanker truck lot.
I never like Hunter as much as Armour, but it still had its charms, from the paper-like slabs of concrete hanging by its rebar, to the smokestack itself.
Presumably, it is finally being torn down to make way for new industrial space or warehouses in anticipation of the new Mississippi River Bridge.
The view of the city from the stockyards is truly spectacular.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

18th and Lake, East St. Louis

What happened to this neighborhood!? It looks like the houses were hit by tank shells, and the apartment buildings look like they were the scene of room-to-room urban warfare.
I stumbled across this cluster of houses, scattered with older houses but also relatively recent apartment buildings, and wondered, "At what point does it get to this?"
There is still a fair amount of people living around the neighborhood, between the burned out houses and forested lots. Because much of East St. Louis was built of wood, most of it has disappeared, leaving no vacant lots but often times dense copses of trees.
All of it only a five minute drive from the Arch.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Abandoned Factory, East St. Louis

I continued down the hill and entered a neighborhood off of St. Clair Avenue. I can imagine a century ago, men would walk these sidewalks from nearby houses, and work in the factory.
I have no idea what the factory was, or when it closed, but the relatively new looking office wing (not pictured) suggests it only closed a decade or so ago.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Clair Avenue

I continued on Lincoln Trail westbound, and the signs started saying St. Clair Avenue; I figured that the road must continue all the way to East St. Louis. I passed the standard signs of late Twentieth Century abandonment: the destroyed motel, the desolate gas station, rows of abandoned ranches, some of them burned out. But the view, right as you come out of the trees and descend the bluffs to the American Bottoms, is spectacular, and I even spotted the Cahokia Power Station's six smokestacks in the distance.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lincoln Trail, St. Clair County, Illinois

The so-called Lincoln Trail is no longer a trail, but more akin to your standard strip mall artery. I saw traces of interesting roadside motels and drive-ups, but like so much of America, it's all just sort of looking the same now. I probably could have labeled this Manchester Road, and a lot of people couldn't have told the difference. Is this what we want America to become?

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Clair Square, Fairview Heights, Illinois

I'd never been over to St. Clair Square Mall, and I wanted to view this important component of sprawl out of East St. Louis in the 1960's. The old Famous Barr dome brings back memories of the now lost West County Mall counterpart, though I found the latter more elegant.
Brutalism abounds, as can be seen in the JC Penny, which in its shear size and massive bulkiness almost pulls off a certain level of beauty.
I like the clean shadows and lines cast by the corner of the department store as well.
The Sears continues the trend, as well. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this mall was how it had seemed to completely weather the economic storm that has closed so many other malls built at the same time on the Missouri side. Renovated recently, the mall, much like West County and South County Malls, seems to have been judged by the shopping center gods as healthy, and will not be a victim of triage as other malls have seem to fallen victim.

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