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Walk Downtown St. Louis

For visitors and city residents alike, a walk through downtown St. Louis can be an historical adventure.  Visit a few of these famous sites:

Here's where : a guide to illustrious St. Louis
Charlie Brennan ; with Bridget Garwitz and Joe Lattal.
St. Louis : Missouri Historical Society Press : Distributed by University of Missouri Press, c2006.
"A guidebook to sites related to famous people in St. Louis, with anecdotes, interesting facts, and cross-references. Each entry is keyed to one of ten maps of the St. Louis area"--Provided by publisher.
     
The blues highway : New Orleans to Chicago : a travel and music guide
Richard Knight ; co-researched with Emma Longhurst.
Hindhead, Surrey, UK : Trailblazer Publications, c2003.
The Blues Highway is a classic road trip through the cradle of musical innovation in America. This definitive travel and music guide follows Highway 61 and the Mississippi River to explore the roots of jazz, blues, Cajun, zydeco, country, gospel, soul and rock & roll music Book jacket.
     
Hiking St. Louis : a guide to 30 wooded hiking and walking trails in the St. Louis area
[Evie P. Harris].
Antioch, TN : E.P. Harris, c2002.
     
Discovering African American St. Louis : a guide to historic sites
John A. Wright.
Saint Louis : Missouri Historical Society Press, c2002.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 183-184) and index.
     

Gateway Arch:  Eero Saarinen, a Finnish architect, designed the St. Louis Arch in the late 1940's.  Completed in 1965, the Arch stands 630 feet tall.  The top of the arch can sway up to 18 inches on a windy day.

Lost buildings

Not all St. Louis structures have survived.

Both the Merchant's Exchange Building, home of the 1876 Democratic National Convention, and the Planter's Hotel, home of the popular 1940's drink Planter's Punch, are no longer standing.

Builtstlouis.net shows you more

Old Courthouse: One of the oldest buildings in the downtown area, and the location of the Dred Scott case in 1846.  The fireproof cast iron dome, constructed two years before the one on Capitol Hill, weighs 128 tons.  Orators used the microphone effect achieved by standing in the exact center of the rotunda to deliver speeches to large crowds.

Eads Bridge: James B. Eads had no formal engineering training when he designed the Eads Bridge in 1867.  What he knew of the river came from his experience using a diving bell to look for treasure on the bottom of the Mississippi.  The bridge was the first to be built at such a depth.  In fact, 14 workers died of decompression sickness during its construction.

Walking tours

Metropolis, an organization working to revitalize St. Louis, offers Architectural Walking Tours of the downtown area.

Get more information

Wainwright Building: In 1889, architect Louis Sullivan created what is often called  "the first skyscraper."  Although ten-story buildings were being built in other cities at this time, masonry covered their steel interiors and made the buildings look squat.  Sullivan's design highlighted the structure's steel interior, achieving for the first time a tall, stately effect. 

Old Cathedral: Completed in 1834 in the style of Greek Revival, the Old Cathedral is the only surviving historic structure on the grounds of the Arch, and is St. Louis's earliest church.

With a map and a pair of comfortable shoes, St. Louis history is just steps away!

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff