Tuesday, August 24, 2010

St. Louis, MO

Today was a bit of a strange day…




First stop of the day was in Springfield, IL. Now Springfield is a weird place because it feels more like an oversized town than a city… That and, really, the entire city seems to be devoted to just the State Government and Abraham Lincoln.



Now don’t me wrong, I love Lincoln. His memorial is one of my favorites in DC. One year for my friend Maggie’s birthday, we did a brief stint of “drinkin at the Lincoln”, Wedding Crashers style. Abe was just plain great. Up from nothing, lawyer with only one year of schooling, 2 terms as a state rep, lost a race for a state Senate seat in 1958, won the presidential election 2 years later, got us through the Civil War, made great speeches… And that’s just the quick summary!



But Springfield itself should think about changing its name to Lincolnville... It had Lincoln’s Presidential Library and Museum…



Lincoln’s Church…



Lincoln’s Street…



Lincoln’s House…



Lincoln’s Living Room…



Lincoln's Desk...



Lincoln’s Bed…  (Where all the magic happens...)



Lincoln’s Breakfast…



Lincoln’s Old Law Firm. Lincoln’s favorite room, in the State Capitol Building, to hang out with his buddies. That place where Lincoln ate that one time…



But this reclaimed Train Station was cool…



As was the old Capital Building, including some really cool stairs…







And the new Capital Building as well…



A random note on the tour of his house. The park ranger guiding us through the house had zero personality… It also seemed like he had only just recently memorized his speech for touring the building. I kept on trying to figure out if he was reading off a cheat sheet or something. Plus, this nice old lady on the tour was really interested and kept on asking random questions after he had finished with a room. For instance, at one point she asked, “What about the window Valences?” “What about them?” “Um, well. Are they made of some kind of metal?” “Of course they are metal!” It almost seemed like he was pissed that she wasn’t satisfied with his boring, rehearsed, yet horribly delivered speech…



Anyhow, it was cool to see it all because Lincoln is awesome. But Springfield, IL is still a weird place if you ask me…



Although then we got to St. Louis…



First of all, for some reason I had assumed that the Gateway Arch extended across the Mississippi River… This was not correct. It’s on the riverfront at least. And it is still huge. 630 feet tall. A really cool bit of engineering, designed by the same guy who designed Dulles Airport in DC! And it takes great pictures…












But really, as far as Megs and I could tell, there wasn’t any reason for them to build the thing… Besides wanting to draw some attention to St. Louis I guess. Because the question of which city was the true “Gateway to the West” is really debatable. For one, the frontier town shifted as time went on… A brief glance at our book shows at least two other towns in Missouri that boast they were once the last bit of civilization before the wilderness of the west. It’s almost like St. Louis built it to lay claim to the title.



Well, they certainly outdid all competition…





Further strangeness was walking in the door to find one security machine and six security guards. Weird. The trip up to the top was fun though. You travel up in these little tram pods that only fit up to 5 little people…







We made it up to the top safely. And it was really cool up there. St. Louis isn’t exactly picturesque, but I went a little picture crazy anyhow…





















Back down on solid ground, we then checked out a video about the Lewis & Clark expedition, which was actually pretty good. And walked around their Museum of Westward Expansion as well. I liked the design, but I got annoyed that virtually everyone ended up walking the exhibitions backwards because there was nothing telling you which way to go. Everyone naturally went right, even though you were supposed to go left. A nice design, but you couldn’t think to put in a directional or something??



We had a bit more time after leaving the monument, so we decided to walk around St. Louis a bit. Another strange city. The immediate downtown was nice though, with an interesting sculpture garden…









And the rest of the city was nice, but it was eerily quiet, especially for 5pm on a work day. And also, I started to notice that although many of the buildings had well designed facades, similar to New York or Chicago, they seemed to have put very little thought into the rest of the building… It reminded me of the neighborhoods full of McMansions that developers have been making for years. The houses have brick or stone veneer on the front, but then the other three sides of the house are just vinyl siding! Bugs me. It is like the buildings are pretending to be something they're not…



So I suppose that was my assessment of St. Louis. It is a nice, clean city with some interesting sights. But, overall, it is trying too hard to be like New York or Chicago… I think St. Louis could be a great city. It just needs to develop its own unique identity.



Tomorrow we are driving across Missouri and will be spending the night with my friend Jordan in Kansas City, MO!! We are going to have some BBQ, of course, and he is going to show us around the city. Looking forward to it!

2 comments:

  1. thanks for the shout-out! Babe-raham Lincoln is a fan fave.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovin' keeping up with your adventures Scottie!! We'll miss you on Saturday but have fun with Donkey and on the rest of the trip!

    ReplyDelete