Monday, December 11, 2006

The Industrial City

It is with great satisfaction that I post The Industrial City. It's the first new tour on the site in almost two years, and brings together a lot of sites that I've been interested in for many years with some that are almost brand new to me. I first photographed the gasometers of Shrewbury in 1995; I did not discover Granite City Steel till last summer.

There was no strict criteria for inclusion; I simply documented the sites which impressed me most -- be it with scale, complexity, design, or state of decay. Many have historical value; most are many decades old. The golden age of St. Louis industry, as with most of the country, is long past.

The information on the tour is vastly incomplete, of course; I could make a small career out of digging up the full histories of these sites, the companies that built them, the persons who shaped them, their prospects for the future. I have culled what I could from my limited resources and the Web; perhaps some future trip will allow me time for more intensive research. For now, though, my greatest intent is to document -- to share my findings, to show what's there now and, in many cases, what may not be there much longer. Any additional information is a bonus.

Sometimes even my own information gathering is incomplete, limited by time, knowledge, and the frequency with which industrial sites are gated and fenced. No close approach to Cahokia is possible without passing a manned entry gate. Granite City Steel is only photographable by walking along a fairly busy two-lane highway with no sidwalks, with plant security cruising back and forth suspiciously looking at the guy with the camera. And entry to the extremely deteriorated Armour and Hunter plants is not for the faint of heart.

These sites are standouts to me; though some are among the city's most prominent landmarks, they barely scratch the surface of manufacturing and other industrial concerns throughout the city (most prominently, I have almost nothing related to the intensive barge traffic on the Mississippi River.) Much has already passed away; I barely caught the Belcher building as it came down in 2001.

So, there's a lot more I could have done, and more that will be done, but for now, I hope my readers will find some measure of illumination in seeing some of St. Louis's great industrial sites brought together in one place.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Photo dumping ground

I've become quite the addict in the last few months; it's an easy-to-use forum that allows quick organization of photographs. They can be sorted into sets and sent to group "pools" on an almost infinate number of topics. The last few times I've been in St. Louis, the first thing I do upon getting home is upload a trip sampler to Flickr. It also lets me show off the best of my photography, something that the subject-contrained nature of Built St. Louis doesn't always allow.

I've been setting up albums on a variety of topics that interest me:

- Milwaukee's industrial architecture, especially the Cream City brick variety;
- Mid-Century Modernism around Milwaukee;
- Louis Sullivan's buildings across the country;
- 1950s-era signs;
- the buildings of Philadelphia architect Frank Furness;
- the Milwaukee Art Museum;

...and whatever else grabs my eye. The easy-to-use format means I can update it quickly and frequently, without the painstaking effort that goes into a normal web page.

Come by and check it out!