MY DAILY CALENDAR FOR SATURDAY, DAY 285 OF 2013: It rained last night. Didn’t hear it, but the ground was wet this morning. Well, not all the ground since it was still as dry as a bone under all of the trees. Not a surprise, because the weather folks said we’re technically back in drought condition due to the lack of late summer and early fall rainfall in our area. Sure, we’ve had a number a heavy rain falls. But when the rain comes down heavy, it doesn’t soak into the ground … it runs off into the storm sewers. So, I guess one of the causes for our drought conditions is because our forefathers and mothers built storm sewers. You can’t win sometimes.
While we’re in the midst of the major league baseball playoffs, I thought it might be nice to give the local team a bit of time in the old blog. I just realized that the last time I went to a baseball game was about twenty years ago.
But for the most of my growing up years it was called SPORTSMAN’S PARK. It was on Grand Avenue and for my first fourteen years, I lived about two blocks away from it. I should confess that during those years I was a Brown’s fan. I guess I should tell you that my dad was the ultimate Browns fan, so I really didn’t have any other options. The Browns were the other team in town, and I was a member of the their Knothole Gang. We got free tickets to the games through my grade school. The Cardinals did give free tickets.As their years in Saint Louis dwindled down to a precious few, the team tried to attract new fans with the Brownie logo.
It didn’t work, and in 1953 the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. And the local beer baron who owned the Cardinals bought Sportsman’s Park and changed the name to Busch Stadium. The next year my family moved to the suburbs. Guess there was nothing left in the city for my dad.
I will occasionally watch a baseball game on TV, but I’m not a rabid or even avid fan. Too slow. But then so is football. And don’t get me started on golf. My sport is trekking around town and writing about my journeys and adventures on these pages. Dream on!
TODAY’S ORIGAMI CHALLENGE: Well, since it is the weekend I really wasn’t expecting any new challenge on the calendar. But I do have hopes of better origami projects for next week. But NOSHI? It sounds like some Jewish-Japanese hybrid.
It’s the anniversary of the day his three ships landed in what he called the New World in 1492. And before you start bitching about him, remember he got screwed, too. He didn’t find a new route to India. The new world he thought he discovered wasn’t named Columbia. He didn’t become Admiral Of The Seas. He was fired by the king. He didn’t get his rewards. He was thrown into jail. And he died 14 years after his voyage, and nobody knows where he’s really buried.
He did make it onto a stamp though.
But who could afford a five dollar stamp in 1892?
Cass Gilbert’s Palace Of Fine Art has been a treasure of Saint Louis since it open at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 … more commonly known as the Saint Louis World’s Fair. After the fair closed and the fairgrounds were restored to their original condition, the Saint Louis Art Museum which had been established in 1879 and housed in downtown Saint Louis moved to the Romanesque building in the park where it has been a popular attraction for residents and visitors for over 100-years. The inscription carved on the front of the building might have been the reason for this.
DEDICATED TO ART AND FREE TO ALL!
Even though the building has three floors and contains 75 galleries a lot of the museum’s collection has been in storage for years and gone unseen by the public. To correct this problem, an addition to the original building had long been planned and three years ago ground was broken for this building. Last weekend the new East Building with 21-galleries was opened to the public. And I was there!
To be honest, my bus arrived at the entrance to the park at 9:00. To walk into the park and climb Art Hill took me fifteen minutes. So I actually arrived at the ceremony site at 9:15. But since everyone except VIPs and those with handicaps also had to walk up the hill, I beat most of them to the event site to be in position for the start of ceremonies.
Brent R. Benjamin – Museum Director, Francis Slay – Mayor City of St. Louis, Sir David Chipperfield – Architect and Jay Nixon – Governor of the State of Missouri.
Cutting the ribbon!
And the assembled crowd joined the cues to wait their turn to get inside and experience the new car smells of an art museum. When the new building was announced, the general consensus was that the design of the new building would over shadow the original Romanesque building. It’s amazing how it seems to blend into the natural setting around it.
Whatever your tastes in art, the museum at the top of Art Hill is a fantastic place to visit.
In Saint Louis, CWE stands for CENTRAL WEST END which is a historic part of the city where the elite (people and pets) meet to eat, shop and just people watch on sunny weekend days. Here is photographic mosaic I shot on Saturday when I was out with a couple of friends. You can click on the little images to view a larger version and read my commentary.
Tourists always welcome in Saint Louis. And it’s a great place for a budget vacation.
Forest Park is a great place to visit, and one of the highest spots in the park is a spot call ART HILL. It’s the spot where you’ll find this statue of Louis IX Saint and King of France.
And behind his statue, you’ll find the building that gives this hill its name. The Saint Louis Museum of Fine Art designed by renowned architect Cass Gilbert and built in 1904. Currently, a new expansion to the historic building is undergoing the final preparations for a grand opening in June of 2013. Many areas of the original building are being reconfigured for the expansion.
While I’ve often included many pictures of the building behind Louis’ statue, I’ve never really shown you the full view of what’s in front of the statue. Now with the aid of a panoramic camera, I’d like to show you the view of Art Hill and the City of Saint Louis that Louis IX sees.
If you click on the above photo, you’ll be able to see the enlarged panorama of Forest Park and the City Of Saint Louis on a sunny blue sky Saint Louis almost winter afternoon. ENJOY!
Thankfully, there are a lot of benches around the MOBOT grounds for foot-weary visitor who have completed the 2.5 mile trek around the grounds viewing all 26 lantern creations. The break was also necessary because we’re still in the midst of summer days, and the MAGIC can’t start until the sun has set which in garden time is about 8 pm. Also those in the know didn’t start showing up until shortly before eight. We had decided we weren’t going to repeat the entire trek around the garden, and we were just going to revisit a few of our favorites we wanted to see illuminated. Don’t forget you can enlarge any picture by clicking on it.
It was a great presentation and I encourage all who can to visit it — it will run up until August 19. Dining from 5:30 – 8:00 in the Sassafras Cafe/Visiter’s Center and from 6:00 – 10:00 at the The Lantern Festival Food Court in the Linnean Plaza.
As promised last week here is the second part of my tour of the Soulard Neighborhood … THE SOULARD FARMERS MARKET. The market is one of the oldest farmers markets in the country. It dates back to 1779 when it was just a flat meadow where farmers would come to sell the fruits, vegetables, dairy products and livestock they had raised to the French settlers and fur traders that made up the population of the village of Saint Louis.
Antoine Soulard owned the land where the meadow was located, and in 1841 after his death his wife Julia officially deeded the two block area where the market was located to the city to be forever used as a farmers market.
The current building was built in 1929 to replace the original 1840 building. The building consists of the Grand Hall which contains a number of stores and shops and two double lanes of exterior stall on either side of the main building.
I got so hungry walking through the market, I had to go across the street to Jimmy John’s for a roast beef sub.
Coming soon, the third episode and conclusion of my Soulard Tourist Trek!
Last week I took a tourist trek through one of the oldest residential areas in the city of Saint Louis. Back in the early 19th century the area directly south of central city was known as Frenchtown — mainly because most of the land was covered with farms owned by French landowners. One of the major landowners was Antoine Soulard, surveyor general of Upper Louisiana for the Spanish governor of the territory during the 36 years the territory was owned by Spain. He received a large grant of land in payment for his work as surveyor. This was the land that eventually became known as the Soulard Neighborhood of Saint Louis. And this is where I went trekking.
Soulard is a registered historic district of Saint Louis, and as such the historic buildings there are under a strict code regarding restoration and/or modification. In other words, walking down the streets of Soulard is like walking down the streets of a mid-19th century city. Especially when it comes to walking down the red brick sidewalks.
Prior to the Civil War a lot of German people began immigrating to the United States and Saint Louis in particular. (This included my German ancestors.) And the landowners in Soulard realized they could make a tidy profit by building houses for the newcomers which would also supply workers for the nearby fields, factories and breweries. And that is where the row houses entered the picture.
The row houses were designed to utilize every possible square inch of available land. They were built right up to the side walk and designed so that another house could be built right next to them it make a row of houses sometimes running for an entire block.
The German immigrants also brought their churches, like Sts. Peter and Paul Church which dates back to 1840. This current German Gothic building was built in 1874.
Down the block is Trinity Lutheran Church. The original wooden church was built closer to the river in 1838 and was the oldest Lutheran congregation west of the Mississippi. The current building was built in the 1870s.
Coming up the Trek continues with a tour of the Soulard Farmers Market that dates back to the late 1700s.
I usually take several hundred photos each week, and while going through them this afternoon I decided to select the one I liked best and post it as my PICK PIC OF THE WEEK.
Soulard is one of the oldest residential areas in the city. It is just six blocks from the banks of the Mississippi River, and many of the original structures built during the 1800s have been carefully restored. A lot of these were row houses which were built right up to the brick sidewalks and side by side to other row houses. Almost all of these were two stories with front and rear apartments on each floor. The rear apartments were reached through a narrow walkway from the sidewalk to the back entrance.
Walking along a block of row houses, I noticed this big guy guarding his home. He actually opened one eye to look at me when I stopped to take his picture. As you can see, his expression is pure, “Sheeze, another damn tourist!”
Watch for the entire Tourist Trek coming up this week. (As soon as I finish picking and choosing the photos.)
Tuesday, I made one of my periodic trips to downtown Saint Louis to make sure that it’s still there. Thankfully, it’s still there, but some of the parts that made it a great city aren’t doing so well. One of these parts was the ARCADE BUILDING.
It’s the building that’s being hidden behind the OLD POST OFFICE BUILDING in the foreground. It’s a classic building that was built during the early skyscraper era at the start of the 20th century. I remember it from when I was a kid in the 40s. First from visits to my ear doctor with my mom and later from regular shopping trips with my dad. The building got its name from a fabulous central shopping arcade that was entire city block long.
Unfortunately it hasn’t been doing very well during the last two or three decades. People stopped going downtown to shop, and more and more tenants moved their offices and shops to suburban areas. So the building was added to the list of classic downtown structures to be either restored, re-imagined or replaced … which meant its future rose and fell as the economy did. The last time I went past the building, a lot of work was going one inside. Tuesday, all the ground floor doors and windows had all been covered over. But instead of just nailing plywood over the doors and windows, whoever is responsible for the building had done it in a rather unique way.
They were covered with vinyl sheets imprinted with the interior and exterior architectural details of the building. This is the main entrance of the building. Only the two entrances and two of the ground floor windows retain the original detailed stone work around them. The rest of the windows had been replaced by rectangular display windows over the years.
But it is nice to see the giant blow-ups of the old stonework details. Maybe it will entice someone to restart the restoration and revitalization of this classic building.