Sunday, August 07, 2011

The in-between zone

Within the city limits of St. Louis, there are two skylines - the big one downtown, and a small one in Midtown. Between the two lies an area that tends to be overlooked. Thinned out by urban disinvestment, full of scattered vacant lots, it nevertheless retains a large number of important and interesting buildings.

I've arbitrarily split this zone into two areas, called one Downtown West and the other Midtown East, and documented almost everything of note within them. These twin tours have been in the making for a good six months or so; I started photographing almost two years ago. Hopefully the results are worth it.

Exploring these areas has been an exciting treasure hunt. I've visited a half dozen churches (and met several pastors and congregants), found several MidCentury gems, and finally taken a good look at iconic landmarks like the Butler Brothers Building and the General American Life Building.

Perhaps the greatest find was a building that has been altered beyond recognition today - the spectacular Century Electric Company building across from Union Station, a MidCentury building lost in the 1980s to a Post-Modern reskin. This was one of the earliest, largest and - in my opinon - most significant Modernist buildings in St. Louis; I remained surprised that it is not more widely known in preservation circles.

This area abounds in National Register of Historic Places properties, which means a vast amount of information is available for many of the buildings. I've included short histories of the buildings on each page, with links to the much more detailed nomination forms immediately after.

The new tours incorporate a number of existing pages and are tied in with various other existing tours - you can either plow straight through or take detours to your heart's content. Either way, I hope you'll enjoy them and that they will compel you to spend some time on these fascinating and often-overlooked streets.


David Steele said...

Just back from St Loius. It is such a wonderful city. I wish I had more time there. Too much to take in on a short 3 day stay with the family. I could wander for months taking pictures of the amazing architectural treasures. In a way I left a bit unfullflled and now I am on a rampage to learn more about the city. Last time I was in town was about 13 years ago. there has been some positive progress since then. Back then Washington Street had nothing. Most of those big old loft buildings looked empty. The street scene was dead. Total turn around today. I will be writing a bit about my stay in my own blog in the next few weeks.

Home Security said...

Seems to be interesting...and certainly you have explored some good places. I am sure administration will wake up to this, if not, a private partnership initiatives need to be taken.

Ford Dealers St Louis said...

In terms of pure architecture, I think the first building is the most fascinating due to the use of different brick plus the blue tiles also add in a nice accent. Interesting how the most interesting buildings often are in neglected areas.

Adam Kruse said...

Thanks for sharing these fascinating and overlooked streets

Tay Foster said...

I appreciate your blog very much! I live in South city St. Louis and I am completely in love with the architecture around me. Sometimes I find myself looking at structures more than the roads as I drive from place to place. I don't work in the area and most of my family lives in West & North County. Call me crazy if you want to, but I am just infatuated with the visual treasure "old" St. louis has to offer. I love the unique, charming, craftsman oriented, substantial, and distinct qualities found in historical architecture and am keeping an ear to what is going on concerning the "revitalization" (demolition & closings) in some areas . I really do think I chose the wrong course of study in college... : ) Thanks again

Scott said...

St Louis is a great city and I love seeing all the fascinating things located here that I didn't even know about. Thanks for sharing!

Used Cars St. Louis said...
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Anonymous said...

You should expand the blog to show the decay and destruction of St. Louis. Highlight the destruction that militant street justice, income redistribution and other liberal utopian communist philosophies have brought to once formerly thriving areas built by Western European Immigrants that were escaping the same brutal, bloodthirsty, Khazarian monsters that now rule America.

Robert Powers said...

Anon, I ain't got time right now to take you to school, which means you've got a day or two to educate yourself on the sordid racial history of America at large and St. Louis in particular, then come back here and repent for your flagrantly racist ignorance.

If you don't know where to start, try here:

Then try reading up on redlining, white flight, systemic racism, the Interstate highway system, urban renewal, sundown towns, racial covenants, blockbusting, lynching, race riots, public swimming pool integration, cultural appropriation, income disparity, and the school-to-prison pipeline.

Or you can continue to be a smug, ignorant, hateful, racist bigot. Your choice.