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Weekend at St. Louis

April 13, 2007

Hmmm it’s been a while. Finally took some pictures when Maryam and I visited St. Louis over the weekend!

We stayed at the downtown Hilton which was essentially right across the Arch (officially known as the Gateway Arch). We decided to take the metro (super convenient!) to Union Station and walk back towards the city and stop along interesting areas along the way.

Union Station unfortunately was undergoing some renovations on the East facade which was the photogenic part… so no pictures…

On the way back, we encountered some goverment buildings including city hall, the (new) courthouse, etc. City hall was a beautiful old building, and in front of it was a statue which I believe was of Pierre Laclede who founded St. Louis in 1764.

Then came the new court house, which had two statues in front, one of which was lady justice.

As we walked closer towards downtown, we started seeing the Old Courthouse (which must be the second most photographed object in St. Louis!) and immediately behind it, the Gateway Arch. There is a small plaza in front of the Courthouse (or maybe it was the back of the Courthouse, but anyway…) with a fountain that was orange. There was a peculiar statue of a runner or something.

Then we headed further towards Jefferson National Expansion Memorial which houses the Gateway Arch. To the right was the Basilica of St. Louis, King of France, more commonly known as the Old Cathedral.

Off to the Arch we went; it was so simply yet so elegant, and the idea of an arch being an architectural marvel had previously seemed somewhat odd to me but when you see the thing in person, it is quite impressive! Even more impressive is the video clip (which they show inside the Arch which has a visitor’s center) of the last piece of the arch being placed at the apex, with construction workers just walking around without a harness or anything. I would definitely faint.

So we quickly went through the museum inside the Arch because it was almost closing time; it had nice historical tidbits about the role of St. Louis in westward expansion of the old pioneers. There was this moving talking statue of Red Cloud, a Native American Chief who apparently got screwed by the Pioneers:

“In 1868, men came out and brought papers. We could not read them, and they did not tell us what was truly in them… When I reached Washington, the Great Father explained to me what the treaty was, and showed me that the Interpreters had deceived me.

“All I want is right and just. I have tried to get from the Great Father what is right and just. I have not altogether succeeded.”

awww. poor guy. I felt for him 😦

We rushed through the rest of the museum as we only had a few minutes left, and then went back home to rest. Our feet were so sore, we walked so much!

The following day, we got up bright and early and went back to the Arch; there is a tram that you can take all the way to the top where there is an observation area, and although I am not a huge fan of heights, I couldn’t miss this opportunity.

So off we went and boarded the tram which was like a tiny pod-like cable car without windows. Higher and higher up we went and finally reached the top.

The windows at the observation area were kind of small, but I guess I’m glad they weren’t huge or I would have totally freaked out. You could see a nice panoramic view of downtown St. Louis (and beyond).

Note the shadow of the arch in the picture above… we were all the way up there!

A quick panorama after stitching 5 views, yes I know there are some misregistration artifacts but you get the idea:

Next stop was the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis which we were told had some beautiful mosaics, and indeed they totally lived up to expectations. Reminded me of Istanbul!

The outside:

The entry foyer:

The inside (which was actually taken a day later because the first time we visited was on Easter Sunday and they had just started prayers, now that was an impressive service!)

Although the weather was kind of cold, we decided to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw’s Garden). Not surprisingly, it wasn’t as colorful as we had hoped it would have been, but nonetheless it was a blast walking around the huge garden and its different attractions. I’m sure it would have been absolutely spectacular in full bloom.

We were absolutely tired after walking nonstop since we left the hotel, but I wanted to take pictures of the St. Louis skyline at night from across the river, so we took the metro over to the Illinois side (which is just across the river). There was a casino boat called the Casino Queen, and we figured it would have a nice view so we went in and hung around until sunset.

I started to set up to take pictures, but didn’t realize that the observation deck was supposed to be closed until someone alerted me to that fact, so we left the boat and walked across a bridge back towards Missouri. On the way I took a few night pictures, which while not ideal in location, were better than nothing…

And that, folks, was our brief trip to St. Louis!

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