Metro Jacksonville visits the downtown of a city that has finally turned around after five decades of decline: St. Louis, Missouri.
Tale of the Tape:
St. Louis Population 2009: 356,587 (City); 2,828,990 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1822)
Jacksonville Pop. 2009: 813,518 (City); 1,328,144 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)
City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); St. Louis (856,796)
City Land Area
St. Louis: 61.90 square miles
Jacksonville: 757.7 square miles
Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2000-2009)
St. Louis: +4.83%
Urban Area Population (2000 census)
St. Louis: 2,077,662 (ranked 17 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43 nationwide)
Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)
St. Louis: 2,506.4
City Population Growth from 2000 to 2008
St. Louis: +8,398
Convention Center Exhibition Space:
St. Louis: America's Center (1977) - 162,313 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1985) - 78,500 square feet
Connected to Convention Center:
St. Louis: Renaissance Grand - 875 units
St. Louis: Gateway Arch - 630 feet, One Metropolitan Square - 593 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet
Fortune 500 companies 2009 (City limits only):
St. Louis: Express Scripts (96), Emerson Electric (117), Monsanto (197), Ameren (320), Charter Communications (332), Peabody Energy (346), Graybar Electric (470), Centene (486)
Jacksonville: CSX (259), Winn-Dixie (306), Fidelity National Financial (366)
Urban infill obstacles:
St. Louis: Downtown is cut off from waterfront and nearby neighborhoods by freeways and railyards.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.
St. Louis: Washington Avenue, Laclede's Landing
Jacksonville: East Bay Street
Common Downtown Albatross:
Surface parking lots.
Who's Downtown is more walkable?
St. Louis: 98 out of 100, according to walkscore.com, 8th and Pine Streets, St. Louis as keyword
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to walkscore.com
Green = Jacksonville's city limits (current urban core) before consolidation in 1968
Red = Jacksonville's current consolidated city-county limits
Jacksonville's current (Red) and original (Green) city limit boundaries over St. Louis' land area (Blue).
About Downtown St. Louis
The earliest European history of the downtown area of St. Louis relates to the founding of the city. Pierre Laclede chose to found the city on the bluffs because it had access to the river for trade and transportation, was above most floods and defensible against hostile Native Americans. Laclede found the present-day downtown area the perfect place to run a bustling fur trade with the Native Americans of the region.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downtown_St._Louis
In the community's early days, Laclede acted as the de facto leader of St. Louis. While the settlement was named after King Louis IX of France, most residents called it "Laclede Village." Laclede planned the format of the city streets, and oversaw the construction of the settlement's first buildings. Although initial growth was slow, the settlement received a stimulus when France surrendered all of its territorial holdings east of the Mississippi river to Great Britain after the Seven Years' War. By 1776 St. Louis had 300 residents and almost 75 buildings. By 1804 the population had tripled to 900, yet the village was still without a local government. After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, a flood of United States immigrants came to the village. As the newcomers established an American system of government, French influence began to wane but the leading French mercantile families continued to have power.
With the arrival of the steamboat in 1817, St. Louis became a vital center of American commerce, able to trade goods from the Gulf of Mexico across the country through the great river system connected by the Mississippi River. By 1836 the City had 15,000 inhabitants, but it did not have basic institutions, such as banks, libraries or public schools. The downtown streets were being renamed after prominent American settlers. By the mid 1800s, the area was becoming more commercial than residential, and more people began to move to the western parts of the city.
The commercial activity of St. Louis was centered on Main street (present-day First Street) Washington Avenue, and Walnut Street. The St. Louis Fire of 1849 destroyed much of this district. In time the city recovered from the fire and regained its place as one of the commercial centers of the Midwest.
During the late 19th and early 20th century, the St. Louis Downtown experienced a building boom, largely because of a lack of room for businesses to expand. In its heyday, the downtown was a bustling center of commerce; but by the mid-20th century, the downtown area began to decline as businesses moved west and to the suburbs. During the 1970s, owners razed dozens of historic buildings and replaced them with parking lots. Also, in 2004, the historic St. Louis Century Building was demolished to create a parking deck. The present-day downtown has moved further south, yet the Historic downtown remains, and recent preservation efforts have heightened awareness of the architectural significance of the area.
After the 1950s, St. Louis, like many other American industrial cities, suffered from industry recycling, loss of jobs, and demographic changes accompanying suburbanization following highway construction. It had economic decline and heavy population losses, with a rising crime rate. Since the early 1990s, the city has directed urban renewal efforts in the downtown area, with greatly increased investment. Over $4 billion dollars was invested downtown between 1999 and 2006. Recently, the population has grown for the first time in 40 years, and numerous residential and commercial units are being built.
St. Louis' City Hall, a massive stone building at the corner of Tucker and Market streets, was designed in 1890, when the city was still among the half-dozen largest cities in the country. Roughly modeled after the city hall in Paris, the building was not completed until 1904, just in time for the St. Louis World's Fair.http://travel.yahoo.com/p-travelguide-2829381-st_louis_city_hall_st_louis-i
The Wainwright Building is a 10-story red-brick landmark office building at 709 Chestnut Street in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. Built in 1890-91 and designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, it was among the first skyscrapers in the world. It was named for local financier Ellis Wainwright.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wainwright_Building
It is described as "a highly influential prototype of the modern office building" by the National Register of Historic Places. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright called the Wainwright Building "the very first human expression of a tall steel office-building as Architecture."
Welcome to Culinaria, your brand new full-service food store and pharmacy designed to meet the needs of St. Louis growing downtown community!http://www.culinariaschnucks.com/about_us.asp
Culinaria - A Schnucks Market is named for the distinctive characteristics that make this hybrid urban market the perfect setting for a fine food and culinary experience. Inside, you will find a superb selection of grocery, wine, spirits, prepared foods, Schnucks pharmacy, health and beauty, household essentials and kitchen items. Youll also find a large selection of premium items, many bearing the Culinaria brand signaling that it was developed just for you.
Located on the ground floor of the Ninth Street Garage (Ninth and Olive Streets), Culinaria customers will enjoy limited free parking while they shop (see store for details). Just take the garage elevator down to the first floor and walk right into our new space. The first floor offers 21,000 square feet of food, culinary services and sheer entertainment!
You will see our experts preparing a full menu of foods made fresh each day. You have the option of grabbing breakfast or lunch on the go, ordering dinner for late-day pickup or relaxing with co-workers in our seating area upstairs in the 6,000-square-foot mezzanine. Walk the grand staircase or take the elevator up to enjoy a selection from our world-class wines, wine bar and, from time-to-time, live music!
Culinaria is more than just a food and drug store, its our very own showcase of the finest food and culinary services Schnucks has to offer. Every member of the store team, including Store Manager Tom Collora, was handpicked to serve you.
We invite you to stop by and meet our Culinaria team and learn through in-store demonstrations and direct interaction with some of our areas finest food professionals. Bring out the foodie in you!
The Famous-Barr Co. (originally Famous & Barr Co.), St. Louis, Missouri, was a division of Macy's, Inc. (formerly Federated Department Stores). It was formerly the hometown division of The May Department Stores Company, which was acquired by Federated on August 30, 2005. On February 1, 2006, it was subsumed into the newly created Macy's Midwest division. The Famous-Barr Co. was created in 1911 through the merger of The William Barr Dry Goods Co. and previously May-owned The Famous Clothing Store. Famous-Barr was the first air conditioned department store in the United States. In 1991 it took operation control of the L.S. Ayres division in Indiana, and in 1998 took on The Jones Store in Kansas City when May acquired that chain in the aftermath of the Dillard's acquisition of Mercantile Stores Co. Both chains retained their names, but shut down their headquarters.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Famous-Barr
The Famous-Barr name was retired on September 9, 2006 when Federated Department Stores converted most of May's regional department stores to the Macy's nameplate.
The original 1924 Famous-Barr store is still in operation in downtown St. Louis, attached to the now defunct St. Louis Centre, it is located in the historic Railway Exchange Building. It was the home of May Co. before Federated's acquisition. The store now operates as Macy's Central's secondary headquarters. On July 10, 2009 Macy's Inc. announce that they would downsize the downtown flagship store from 7 stories to 3.
St. Louis Centre
The 25-story office tower is the ninth-tallest habitable building in St. Louis at a height of 375 feet. The mall itself is only four stories, however, with a green, white, and glass facade. When the mall opened in 1986, One City Center was the largest urban shopping mall in the United States, with over 120 stores and 20 restaurants in 540,000 square feet. The $95 million complex was originally to be developed by the May Company and called May Mall, but development for the mall was given to the Simon Property Group. In recent years, the mall has undergone a series of financial troubles. In 2006, the almost-vacant mall closed, and was bought by Pyramid Company and was planned to be turned into condominiums and retail space, though the plan was never realized, as Pyramid closed in 2008 due to financial troubles. The mall was foreclosed in 2009 by lender Bank of America and later bought for $12.7 million by Environmental Operations. In 2009, the building was about 85% vacant, and other developers were trying to raise funding for a renovation of the mall. Plans included a $35 million renovation, turning much of the complex into parking space, as well as a $29 million project to attract tenants to the center's office tower. The project, led by investor Stacy Hastie, includes plans for local law firm Lewis, Rice & Fingersh and accounting firm LarsonAllen to move into the building. Earlier, the Missouri Development Finance Board had approved a $5 million loan for the project. In May 2010, work began to convert part of the building into a 750-car parking garage and retail complex.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Louis_Centre
Washington Avenue Historic District
The Washington Avenue Historic District is located in Downtown West, St. Louis, Missouri along Washington Avenue, and bounded by Delmar Boulevard to the north, Locust Street to the south, 8th Street on the east, and 18th Street on the west. The buildings date from the late 19th century to the early 1920s and exhibit a variety of popular architectural styles. The majority of the district's buildings are revival styles or of the Chicago School of architecture. Most buildings originally served as warehouses for the St. Louis garment district and are large multi-story buildings of brick and stone construction. Many have terra cotta accents on their facades. After World War II, the decline in domestic garment production and the preference for single-story industrial space led to many of the buildings being vacant or underused due to functional obsolescence.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Avenue_Historic_District_(St._Louis,_Missouri)
The area began to experience some redevelopment in the 1990s. In 1998, the state of Missouri adopted a tax credit for the redevelopment of historic buildings, making large-scale renovation financially feasible. Local and national developers have acquired many buildings along Washington Avenue and in other parts of downtown. The buildings are being redeveloped with loft-style condominiums and apartments.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Avenue_Historic_District_(St._Louis,_Missouri)
City Museum is a museum, consisting largely of re-purposed architectural and industrial objects, housed in the former International Shoe building in the Washington Avenue Loft District of St. Louis, Missouri.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Museum
Popular among residents and tourists, the museum bills itself as an "eclectic mixture of children's playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel." Visitors are encouraged to feel, touch, climb on, and play in the various exhibits. The museum attracted over 300,000 visitors in 1999 and over 600,000 in 2007. It has been named one of the "great public spaces" by the Project for Public Spaces, and has won other local and international awards as a must-see destination.
Adaptive Reuse: The City Museum was originally a shoe manufacturing and warehouse facility
City Museum was founded by artist Bob Cassilly, who remains the museum's artistic director, and his then-wife Gail Cassilly. The museum's building was once a shoe factory and warehouse but was mostly vacant when the Cassillys bought it in 1993. Construction began in January 1995 and the building opened to the public on October 25, 1997. The museum has since expanded, adding new exhibits such as MonstroCity in 2002, Enchanted Caves and Shoe Shaft in 2003, and World Aquarium in 2004. A circus ring on the third floor offers daily live acts. The City Museum also houses The Shoelace Factory, whose antique braiding machines makes colorful shoelaces for sale.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_Museum
The building's fifth floor houses apartments, dubbed the Lofts at City Museum, which range in size from 1,300 to more than 2,800 square feet.
The museum has been visited by various celebrities, including Miley Cyrus in 2007 and the Jonas Brothers. The Museum has hosted concerts.
In 1763, a French merchant and former soldier of France named Pierre Laclede, along with his fourteen year old lieutenant Auguste Chouteau and a crew of 30, set out from New Orleans to explore the Illinois Country and establish a fur trading post. In 1764, Laclede chose the first elevated site below the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, along the terraced bluffs that formed the west bank of the Mississippi River, north of the River des Peres and south of the Missouri River. In 1784, the site was cleared and temporary cabins were built under the supervision of Auguste Chouteau. Pierre Laclede named the settlement St. Louis in honor of the patron saint of the king of France.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laclede's_Landing
The village of St. Louis contained three long streets that ran parallel to the Mississippi River: La Grande Rue, now First Street; Rue d'Eglise, now Second Street; and Rue des Granges, now Third Street and numerous short streets that crossed these, perpendicular to the river. Soon the village became the center of commerce with furs as the main source of exchange for goods.
Today, Laclede's Landing, a nine - block industrial area that once housed companies producing coffee, leather goods, mattresses, tobacco, whiskey, candy, and machinery for the barges, features some of the most distinctive restaurants and sidewalk cafes in Saint Louis. Visitors to Laclede's Landing can experience the charm of cobblestone streets and century old brick and cast iron facade buildings as they browse through specialty gift shops.
During the day, the historical district is also home to people who work at the many offices located on the edge of the Mississippi River. At night, horse drawn carriages and live music add to the atmosphere of one of the premier entertainment areas in St. Louis. Nearby, sightseeing excursions and gaming boats offer additional choices for entertainment.
The St. Louis light rail system, extending 46 miles, consists of two lines running through the city center. Its Red Line has direct rail connections to two stations at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. All of the system is on independent right-of-way, mostly at surface level. It also includes several miles of subways and elevated track. The system has no streetcars, but does include some grade crossings on the Illinois side of the river on the red line, and some in and near downtown St. Louis. The system runs more similarly to a heavy rail rail system than most light rail systems in North America. All stations are independent entry, and platforms are level with train lines, providing passengers easy access. In downtown, the system uses subway tunnels and stations built in the 19th century with rough-hewn rock walls. The Blue Line also has a few portions in subway tunnels, which are large and of modern concrete construction. Expansion has continued, and the transit agency has future lines planned. Ridership has exceeded expectations, and the system has been lauded as one of the finest light rail systems in North America. At more than 16 million riders annually, it is one of the largest light rail systems in the United States in terms of ridership.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Louis,_Missouri
Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center
The Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center, also known as Gateway Transportation Station or Gateway Station, is a rail and bus terminal station in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. Opened in 2008 and operating 24 hours a day, it serves Amtrak, St. Louis MetroLink, MetroBus regional buses, Greyhound cross-country buses, and taxis. The station, Missouri's largest rail transportation station, is located one block east of St. Louis Union Station.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Louis_(Amtrak_station)
Gateway Station cost 31.4 million to build. After more than a year of delays, it fully opened November 19, 2008, with Amtrak service.
The unique design of the station has won it many design awards, including 2009 Winner of CNR Regional Excellence Award, 2008 Best New Building by RiverFront Times, and the 2009 Award of Merit - Illuminating Engineering Society Illumination Awards.
The station has a food court that offers local sundry / deli options as well as the KFC and Pizza Hut national chains.
America's Center is a convention center located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, and is situated next to the Edward Jones Dome, the home of the National Football League's St. Louis Rams. The venue opened in 1977 as the Cervantes Convention Center, and has held major events over the years, including the Working Women's Survival Show, the All-Canada Show, and the St. Louis Boat and Sports Show. America's Center and the Edward Jones Dome often combine to hold major events.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America's_Center
The center was host to Nazarene Youth Conference "Water Fire Wind" in July 2007. The conference was noted for renovating 35 public schools in the St. Louis area, saving the school system over $150,000 in labor costs. The conference also built two homes in one week in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity, sponsored over 1,500 children in third-world areas (in partnership with Nazarene Compassionate Ministries and World Vision), and fed over 10,000 families in the St. Louis area for one week.
America's Center was the scene for the 2007 National Rifle Association Annual Meetings and Exhibits, and hosted the DHL Major League Baseball All-Star Fan Fest in July 2009. It hosted the American Society for Quality 2010 meeting.
The St. Louis Gateway Mall is a linear park one block wide running from the Gateway Arch at Memorial Drive to Union Station at 20th Street. It runs between Market Street and Chestnut
The Mall began as part of the Comprehensive Plan of 1907, which embraced City Beautiful principles held by members of the City Plan Commission. That plan originally called for the removal of buildings between 13th and 14th streets from Clark north to Olive streets to form a new park mall. This didn't materialize and the very similar Central Traffic-Parkway plan was pushed in 1912. This hoped to clear buildings between Tucker and Jefferson in a one block wide trip between Market and Chestnut streets. A later phase of the project would have extended the mall as far as Grand Avenue. It had the support of Mayor Henry Kiel, but in a 1915 referendum on the plan, voters defeated it.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Louis_Gateway_Mall
Another plan was released by the City Plan Commission in 1919. This one, the Public Building Plan, called for the clearing of buildings for a park space between 12th and 14th. The first section between 12th and 13th would go from Market north to Olive by the Central Library. The second, between 13th and 14th would be between Market and Chestnut. This was approved by voters in 1923 with an $87 million bond.
In 1939, as part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, a park was built between 3rd and 4th streets between Market and Chestnut.
In 1940, the city constructed Carl Milles fountain The Meeting of the Waters on Aloe Plaza in front of Union Station.
In the 1950s, city leaders successfully completed the blocks between 15th and 18th streets.
In 1965, voters approved a $2 million bond issue to build Kiener Plaza on the block between Broadway and 6th.
In 1966, after a voters defeated a demolition plan to extend the mall to Kiener Plaza the city moved forward regardless. One block between 10th and 11th streets was secured and was put into effect in 1976. It proved unpopular, and the block was redesignated as the site of Richard Serras sculpture Twain.
The Citygarden is a two-block (2.9-acre) urban sculpture park, located in Downtown St. Louis. Citygarden is a joint project between the city and the Gateway Foundation, with the former paying for landscaping, water, and electricity, and the latter paying for construction and the art in the park. The landscaping includes plants native to Missouri and water fountains; featured art at the garden include those from artists such as Fernand Leger, Aristide Maillol, Julian Opie, Tom Otterness, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Mark di Suvero. The park is also divided into three sections, each of which represent a different theme: river bluffs; flood plains; and urban gardens. The park also has a restaurant - The Terrace View.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Louis,_Missouri
The first time I visited St. Louis might have been one of the most depressing city trips I've ever taken. First I arrived at a nearly deserted airport, then took a taxi ride through a sea of industrial decay, only to arrive at a rather bleak downtown. One of the key fixtures I recall was a more or less empty grass mall through the center of downtown. It was sort of like the war memorial mall in Indianapolis - only no memorials, just plain grass. Along with cracked sidewalks, mostly deserted, it summed up how pathetic the city seemed to me.Full article: http://sustainablecitiescollective.com/Home/19877
Today, the downtown of St. Louis has changed remarkably. Tons of old buildings have been renovated into condos and there is new life where there was once barren nothingness. Downtown has added 5,000 new residents, and over $4 billion has been invested just since 2000.
And even that dreary grass mall has been transformed into a new urban park known as the City Garden. Here's a rendering:
Note the uninspiring buildings and still excessively wide and underutilized streets. Now imagine it with just a barren grass plaza in there. Not good. While this area still has a ways to go to get livened up, this new park would appear to be a huge improvement.
First a few facts about the park. The cost was approximately $30 million, paid for by the Gateway Foundation. The landscape architect is Nelson Byrd Woltz from Charlottesville, Virginia. It's 2.9 acres and spans about two city blocks. The park is unfenced and is designed to be entered or exited from almost any points. There are a variety of features, including cultivated terraces, a limestone arc wall, a plaza and cafe, three fountains including a "spray fountain" where children can play, and 24 pieces of sculpture from a variety of artists.
If this sounds similar to Millennium Park in Chicago, it should. This park is similar in size, and has a number of similar features. The spray fountain is obviously inspired by Crown Fountain in Millennium Park for example. Indeed, I was told by someone in St. Louis directly that they consider this their Millennium Park. The city is hoping that like the Chicago version, this one also sparks redevelopment in the area.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is a 90.96-acre national park located on the downtown riverfront where the city was first founded in 1764. It commemorates the westward growth of the United States between 1803 and 1890. The centerpiece of the park is the stainless steel Gateway Arch, which is the most recognizable structure in the city. It was designed by noted architect Eero Saarinen and completed on October 28, 1965. At 630 feet, it is the tallest manmade monument in the United States. Located below the Arch is the Museum of Westward Expansion, which contains an extensive collection of artifacts. It tells the details of the story of the thousands of people who lived in and settled the American West during the nineteenth century. Nearby and also part of the memorial is the historic Old Courthouse, one of the oldest standing buildings in St. Louis. Begun in 1839, it was here that the first two trials of the Dred Scott case were held in 1847 and 1850. This park is also the location of the annual July 4 festival, Fair Saint Louis.http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:dxn_KyJeWTkJ:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Louis,_Missouri+st.+louis+macys+wiki&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
The Gateway Arch, also known as the Gateway to the West, is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri. Built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States, it has become the city's iconic image. It was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel in 1947. It is 630 feet wide at its base and stands 630 feet tall, making it the tallest monument in the United States, Construction started on February 12, 1963, and ended on October 28, 1965. and the tallest habitable structure in Missouri. The monument opened to the public on July 10, 1967.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_Arch
Urban Renewal: To make room for the Gateway Arch and mall, over 40 blocks of historic buildings were demolished.
Old Courthouse: In 1846 slave Dred Scott sued for his freedom in the building based on the fact that they had lived in free states. All of the trials including a Missouri Supreme Court hearing were held in the building. The case was to ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford which ruled against him in 1857. The decision was to polarize sides in the run up to the American Civil War.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Courthouse_(St._Louis,_Missouri)
St. Louis Union Station, a National Historic Landmark, is a former passenger train terminal in St. Louis, Missouri. Once the world's largest and busiest train station, it was converted in the early 1980s into a luxury hotel, shopping center, and entertainment complex. Today, it is one of the city's major tourist attractions located on Market Street.
The station opened on September 1, 1894, and was owned by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis. Designed by Theodore Link, it included three main areas: the Headhouse, the Midway and the 11.5-acre Train Shed. The headhouse originally housed a hotel, a restaurant, passenger waiting rooms and railroad ticketing offices. It featured a gold-leafed Grand Hall, Romanesque arches, a 65-foot barrel-vaulted ceiling and stained-glass windows. The clock tower is 280 feet high.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Station_(St._Louis)
Union Station's headhouse and midway are constructed of Indiana limestone and initially included 42 tracks under its vast trainshed terminating in the stub-end terminal.
At its height, the station combined the St. Louis passenger services of 22 railroads, the most of any single terminal in the world. At its opening, it was the world's largest and busiest railroad station and its trainshed was the largest roof span in the world. In 1903, the station was expanded to accommodate visitors to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.
In the 1940s, it handled 100,000 passengers a day. The famous photograph of Harry S. Truman holding aloft the erroneous Chicago Tribune headline, "Dewey Defeats Truman," was shot at the station as Truman headed back to Washington, DC from Independence, Missouri after the 1948 Presidential election.
As railroad passenger services declined in the 1950s and 1960s, the massive station became obsolete and too expensive to maintain for its original purpose. With the takeover of national rail passenger service by Amtrak in 1971, passenger train service to St. Louis was reduced to only three trains a day. Amtrak stopped using Union Station on October 31, 1978; the six trains daily did not justify such a large facility. The last to leave Union Station was a Chicago-bound Inter-American. Passenger service shifted to an "Amshack" one block east, now the site of the Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center.
In August 1985, after a $150 million renovation, Union Station was reopened with a 539-room hotel, shopping mall, restaurants and food court. Federal historic rehabilitation tax credits were used to transform Union Station into one of the city's most visited attractions. The station rehabilitation by Conrad Schmitt Studios remains one of the largest adaptive re-use projects in the United States. The hotel is housed in the headhouse and part of the train shed, which also houses a lake and shopping, entertainment and dining establishments. Omni was the original hotel operator, followed by Hyatt Regency Hotel chain and now Marriott Hotels as of December 2008.
Some architectural elements from the building have been removed in renovations and taken to the Sauget, Illinois storage site of the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation.
In January 2010, St. Louis Union Station is under major redevelopment with the expansion of the station's Marriott Hotel in the main terminal building. The hotel will take over the Midway area of the station and all stores have been relocated to the train shed shopping arcade. These major improvements and redevelopments will be finished by 2011 according to Marriott St. Louis Union Station.
Coming Soon: Elements Of Urbanism: Urban St. Louis (urban neighborhoods)
Article and images by Ennis Davis