Sunday, January 17, 2010

I Love St Louis!

Last week I was required to travel for business (my day job), and while most times I would protest, I have to admit that this was a pretty awesome trip. We flew in to St. Louis (my boss and I), and since I had never been there before we took the opportunity to wander around and enjoy every spare minute until we had to make the two hour trip to our hotel in Marion, IL. First stop was Union Station - recommended by a co-worker that knew I had visited Michigan Central Station in Detroit, I wanted to see what St. Louis had done with their precious bit of history - I was so enthralled, I asked to have my reservation for my last night switched to the Marriott that is there now. More on that later...

We arrived at the famous Arch just before sundown, the perfect time for pictures! I barely noticed the wind and 15 below wind chill...but Lanai sure did LOL. Wimpy Texans. :-) I suppose I will never live down the fact that I was lying in the snow to get some of the Lanai huddled with her back against the wind. All joking aside, I'm so glad that Lanai humored me as I love the resulting images!

Fast forward through the business part of my trip, and on my last night I drove back to Union Station (Lanai had gone back early). Some of you are familiar with my exciting exploration of the abandoned Michigan Central Station last spring - if you have not seen it already, be sure to check out the MCS blog post HERE.

St. Louis Union Station and Michigan Central Station have a similar history, Union Station in operation from 1894 - 1978 and MCS in operation from 1913 (after the previous MCS burned) - 1988; both stations closing with the decline of rail travel. Both stations fell into ruin, but this is where the similarities end. While Michigan Central Station remains empty and dilapidated, victim to thieves and vandals, St. Louis Union station was re-opened in 1985 after a 150 million dollar renovation. And there lies my excitement...

The outside of St. Louis Union Station looks like a castle, with a 280 foot clock tower. (in comparison to the 18 storey/230 foot Michigan Central Station). Walking in, I saw all that Michigan Central Station should be. Having experienced both buildings, the contrast was striking - in St. Louis a precious bit of history restored and saved, in Detroit our history forgotten and left in ruin. I wandered and explored St. Louis Union Station, trying to capture similar images of the restored station that I had previously taken of MCS. The great room is a grand expanse of beautifully detailed arches and stained glass windows, the tile and romanesque decor exactly what I would imagine it was in 1894. Arched doorways and columned balconies, intricate carving on the walls and columns, period statues - everywhere I looked there was more to see. In the shopping center portion of the building, Trompe-l'œil adorned the walls in sharp contrast to the graffitti seen at MCS. The photos I am posting here do not do the beauty of this building justice. Be sure to check out the pics at the bottom of this blog post - there are some comparisons to photos taken in MCS.

I was fortunate to be able to stay overnight in this exceptionally striking and historic building, and greatly enjoyed the hospitality of all of the folks that work there - everyone excited to talk about the beautiful structure and the history behind it, as well as the current struggles to keep this saved bit of history open and operating. I am hoping that with the upturn in the economy, St. Louis Union station will continue to operate, grow and prosper.

And...just a tiny bit more sight seeing before I headed for the airport. To the other side of the river to photograph the city, then back to the Arch for a trip to the top. Whew - all that AND business completed.

A comparison of the two stations:

The exterior - St. Louis Union Station on top, MCS below

Graffitti vs Trompe-l'œil

Great Room

Interior Halls


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the tour. Great photos.

Unknown said...

Wow. Stunning work!

paigehermreckphoto said...

beaaaautiful work! great colors as well!! really enjoyed the blog!

Unknown said...

Thanks everyone <3