24 – Downtown St. Louis

We are staying in the historic and trendy west end suburb of St. Louis called Saint Charles. We are just over the Missouri River where it dumps into the Mississippi and about a 15 minute metro train ride to the downtown. Off we went at 8:30 for a full day of sightseeing.  In summary before you read the day’s highlights, let me say how absolutely enjoyable this city is… named after its patron saint, King Louis IX of France, we were so surprised many times… even by the things we had researched and had seen online before we arrived.

The main stops of the day were as follows:

  • The Gateway Arch: we got our tickets at the Old Courthouse for the 10:30 trip to the top of the 630 foot stainless steel arch. Firstly, this courthouse is beautiful and famous as the place where in 1846, two enslaved persons, Dred Scott and his wife Harriet, sued their owner for their freedom. It took 11 years for the courts to come to a denial decision which fueled dissent and led to the Civil War of 1861. Such history here! With tickets in hand we rode the elevator (a small pod with 5 seats) to the top for sweeping views of St. Louis and the Mississippi River (flooded). This arch is a commemorate monument of Thomas Jefferson’s commission for Lewis and Clark to explore and map the west beyond the Mississippi River in 1804. As a result, St. Louis is called the Gateway City.
  • We walked through the old city admiring the beautiful architecture of such buildings as the Mayfair Hotel where Cary Grant started the tradition of leaving chocolates on the pillows for his lady friends, the Old Post Office which has been restored and now is a museum and offices, and the incredible St. Louis Public Library with it’s war museum and 2 lovely stained glass windows. Plus many other buildings.
  • We stepped into Christ Church Cathedral for some photos; small, dark, Gothic and lovely. There are stained glass windows from various artists including two from Tiffany and a stunning 35 foot white stone carved reregos of the crucified Christ at the altar.
  • Union Station – oh my goodness, I don’t even know where to start. The architecture itself is outstanding… then there is the Tiffany stained glass window called the Three Cities … three women representing San Francisco on the west coast, New York on the east coast and St. Louis in the middle. Stunning! Then, to top it all off, we saw a light show on the ceiling of the station that absolutely blew my mind.
  • Lunch was at the Hard Rock Cafe beside the Union Station… excellent. (We sat beside Eddie Vedder’s playlist for a concert… Maneau that’s for you). And there just happened to be stained glass of Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry.
  • We visited the outstanding Bacilica of St. Louis named The Most Beautiful Cathedral in America. The interior is 83,000 square feet of mosaics created by 20 artists including Tiffany and incorporating 41.5 million pieces of tile glass. (See Gallery/ World Windows for all photos). This church was designated a Bacilica by Pope John Paul II in 1997 and the museum in the basement has all the history. So fascinating… so beautiful… you’ve never seen anything like it until you visit here.
  • We strolled through Forest Park which is larger than Central Park in New York. Such a wonderful green space in this otherwise concrete jungle of a city. Many monuments, statues, pavilions, pathways, fountains and people enjoying a bit of nature in the middle of a city of 2.5 million people.

It was a grand day. We walked 10 kilometers and wore ourselves out. So glad to see this wonderful city with so much history. Tomorrow we will explore our suburb of Saint Charles.

Here are the photo highlights of day 24 – Downtown St. Louis


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