St. Louis 2015...I

St. Louis is a city and port in the United States state of Missouri. The city developed along the western bank of the Mississippi River, which forms Missouri's border with Illinois. In 2010, St. Louis had a population of 319,294; a 2013 estimate put the population at 318,416, making it the 58th most populous U.S. city and the second-largest city in the state in terms of city proper population. The St. Louis metropolitan area includes the city as well as nearby areas in Missouri and Illinois; with a population of 2,905,893, it is the largest in Missouri and one of the largest in the United States. St. Louis was founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau and named after Louis IX of France. Claimed first by the French, who settled mostly east of the Mississippi River, the region in which the city stands was ceded to Spain following France's defeat in the Seven Years' War. Its territory east of the Mississippi was ceded to the Kingdom of Great Britain, the victor. The area of present-day Missouri was part of Spanish Louisiana from 1762 until 1803.

The economy of St. Louis relies on service, manufacturing, trade, transportation of goods, and tourism. The city is home to several major corporations including Express Scripts, Peabody Energy, Ameren, Ralcorp and Sigma-Aldrich, as well as a large medical and research community. St. Louis has three professional sports teams: the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball, the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League, and the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League. The city is commonly identified with the 630-foot tall Gateway Arch in Downtown St. Louis.

During my first visit to St. Louis in 3 years, I felt a little "at home". I got into the city at night, but being familiar with my surroundings I knew exactly where I wanted to go...the Riverfront. But to my surprise the Riverfront was closed, and is under a 2-year overhaul to build a "park over the expressway". The new park will make it easy to get to the Gateway Arch from downtown by just walking through the expressway interference or other obstacles in the way. There will be bike paths and new walkways and better access to the Riverfront. So since I couldn't get the night photos I wanted, I went over to Busch Stadium and photographed the stadium. It was very rare to see the stadium lit up since baseball season was over, and not getting ready to start any time soon. After that, I checked into my hotel to get ready for the next day. The next day found me up and out early as the Chicago Bears were playing the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. I parked at Laclede's Landing, and walked over to the dome. I photographed a bit little of the activity as fans were milling about and tailgating in the parking lot. After spending some time there, I made my way to Kiener Plaza. While there, I photograph some of the surrounding buildings I felt were architecturally interesting. I also photographed my favorite statue in St. Louis, "The Runner". It was great to see the Old Courthouse was finally done with renovations, which were underway the last time I was there. Another St. Louis highlight for me was going to oasis in the heart of downtown. It's a vibrant and serene blending of lush plants and internationally renowned sculptures. My favorite one has always been Igor Mitoraj's 'Eros Bendato' sculpture...a huge steel head laying on its side. I love this place! From there, I walk more around downtown towards the United States Courthouse and Custom House, War Memorials, Civil Courts Building and City Hall. Another building under construction when I last visited was the Central Library. Now complete and 100 years old, this St. Louis cultural landmark has been transformed, restored and modernize for the 21st century. Another landmark I came across was Christ Church Cathedral, built between 1859 and 1867. I end my afternoon with lunch at Cafe Di Organo.