This day in St. Louis found me leaving my Historic Magnolia Hotel St. Louis, which I didn’t know was Historic until I was talking with a hotel employee outside. So before heading out to my first stop, I snapped a quick photo of the landmark plaque on the building and some photos of the hotel before people started to come out. First up was the World Chess Hall of Fame in Clayton, Missouri. The world's largest chess piece measuring at 14 feet 7 inches tall and 6 feet in diameter at the base proudly stood out front. Another stop in Clayton was the Brown Shoe Company, which displayed Victoria Fuller's “Shoe of Shoes” sculpture outside the building. Looking closely at the sculpture, I noticed that it is made of single shoes, which I thought was very clever! The Missouri History Museum was next, and I got the opportunity to see the old building blended with the new. The cool part was seeing that old school “Vacancy Hotel St. Louis” sign out front. The Compton Hill Reservoir Park was a short drive away. I went there to see the Historic Compton Hill Water Tower and Wilhem Wandschneider's classic “Naked Truth” statue. I love this statue!
Across town I went to visit the Griot Museum of Black History on St. Louis Avenue. This place I really wanted to check out, but they were closed. It’s definitely the first stop on my next visit. Earlier I drove past an arena, but couldn’t see what it was. But in doubling back, I found out that it was the Chaifetz Arena, home of the St. Louis University Billikens men’s and women’s basketball teams. And speaking of their mascot, there was a pretty cool “Billiken” statue sitting in Drury Plaza. Across the street from Chaifetz Arena is Harris-Stowe State University… a historically black, public university. The University is a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. The fully accredited four-year institution offers 31 majors, minors and certificate programs in education, business and arts & sciences. Harris-Stowe ranked No. 1 in the State of Missouri and No. 47 in the Nation in granting degrees in mathematics and statistics to African-Americans. While leaving Harris-Stowe to head back downtown, on the expressway to my right, I passed by a giant Vess soda bottle sculpture. So you know I had to get off and double-back to get the shot! Back on North 4th Street downtown, I photographed the TUMS (yes, TUMS) building, Millennium Hotel and Deloitte Building. I wanted to try to get a different “look” of the St. Louis skyline, and wanted to go to the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, which is on the east side of the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, Illinois. There was soooo much construction going on that I couldn’t get to the park. So the only photo I got was of the Casino Queen.
Back on the St. Louis side, I wanted to check out the newly renovated Riverfront. After five years of group efforts, the work is almost complete to better connect the Gateway Arch to the city it represents. The Arch has proudly stood above the Mississippi River as a symbol of St. Louis and our nation’s pioneering spirit for more than half a century. The goal of the project has been to erase the barriers between the river, the Arch, and the city. One big change I noticed was Harry Weber's “The Captain's Return” Lewis and Clark statue atop the Riverfront. The statue used to sit on the river’s edge. And when the river would flood and “crest”, sometimes the tall statue would be almost completely covered with only the tip being visible. With the renovations to the Riverfront, the Eads Bridge is easily visible now as well. I also photographed the new Queen of the Mississippi paddle-wheeler riverboat sitting along the Mississippi River. While on that end of the river, I was checking out the “Tails Of The Mississippi” mural along the walls of the St. Louis Riverfront. The project was spearheaded by lead artist Jacob Schmidt along with various artists contributing as well. And further along the Mississippi River flood wall is the “Kosciusko Graffiti Wall”. This project was presented by “Paint Louis”, which brings street artists from all over the world to St. Louis for a city-sanctioned weekend of graffiti on the Riverfront's flood wall. The annual three-day event is thought to be the largest gathering of street artists in the world. I thought it was nice to see a place where artists could legitimately display their work and not have to worry about being run off by the police. As I was photographing the wall, a couple of the artists who “just happened” to be in the area, thanked me for recognizing their hard work by documenting it.
At this time, my time on this St. Louis visit is coming to an end. But there is one place that I cannot leave without photographing, which was one of the main reasons for this trip in the first place. About a half hour drive took me just a little bit outside St. Louis to Creve Coeur, Missouri to photograph the St. Louis Abbey. I saw a photo of The St. Louis Abbey, and I had to photograph it. The famous church is recognized for both its unique design and disciplined monks that live according to the Benedictine discipline. After spending more time than I should have at The Abbey, it was time to meet some friends in University City for lunch at Salt + Smoke. After lunch with Alexis Spinks and Walter James Junior, it was time to head back to the hotel and pack. But not before I get my last photos of Harry Walker's Chuck Berry statue across the street from the landmark “Blueberry Hill” restaurant and music club.