01 October, 2009

All Aboard-Saint Louis Union Station-Skywatch Post for October 2, 2009

Today, I am sharing some more of my recent visit in August to St. Louis with you. Hope you enjoy.

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 and an easy trek on the Metro from downtown. (please click on photographs to enlarge them)

Union Station's headhouse and midway are constructed of Indiana limestone and initially included 32 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. 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. In 1978, the last train left St. Louis Union Station. Amtrak trains are now located one block to the east in St. Louis' Gateway Transportation Center which houses Amtrak, Greyhound Buses, and inner city Metro Buses and subway and rail.

I will post more photographs in the future of the area that was once the trainshed and housed the tracks that now has restaurants and shops . The Metro rail drops you off across the street and many a sports fan stops off here prior to sporting events. The day we visited there was an early afternoon Cardinal baseball game and many of their avid fans were stopping off for lunch. Busch Stadium is located two stops down the line toward downtown.

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28 September, 2009

The Roberts Orpheum Theater ... My World August 2009

The Orpheum Theater was constructed at the corner of 9 th Street and St. Charles in 1917 by St. Louis self-made millionaire Louis A. Cella. The lead architect was Albert Lansburgh, and artist Leo Lentelli was responsible for the ornate sculptures that are still magnificent today. Lansburgh had already designed seven previous theaters for the Orpheum franchise. Lentelli had began working in Rome in the early part of the twentieth century before moving to New York City where his works were commissioned for many projects, including Rockefeller Center. Please click on photographs to enlarge.

When it joined the more than two dozen theaters of the national "Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit" on its Labor Day opening, the $500,000 "Parisian style" theater was considered an "architectural masterpiece and technological wonder."

With the end of vaudeville in the mid 1930s, the theater was leased to Warner Brothers as a movie house, and subsequently Loews assumed its management. In the 1960s it underwent a reincarnation as a performance venue and was re-christened The American Theater.

The venue has played host to a vast array of entertainment , including plays, musicals, and concerts. Many of the great names in American theater graced its stage in the, including Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne, Julie Harris, Cary Grant, Eartha Kit, James Whitmore, Eli Wallach, Liv Ullman, John Gielgud, Paul Robeson, Mae West, and Henry Fonda, to name just a few.

In the early 1980s, The American became primarily a venue for special events (corporate events, weddings, and private parties) and occasional rock concerts. Acts such as Pearl Jam (who filmed a video in the theater), Red Hot Chili Peppers, Alicia Keyes, Dave Mathews Band, Tori Amos, and Nelly appeared on stage.

Then, in December, 2003, St. Louisians Mike and Steve Roberts purchased the theater from Charles Cella, grandson of the visionary who built it. They undertook a major rehabilitation of the theater, bringing it back to its former splendor. Reverting to the original name, The Roberts Orpheum Theater returned to full operation to host a wide variety of events including concerts, theater, dance, lectures, and movies, as well as corporate events, conferences, and private parties.

I will have to add that I loved downtown Saint Louis. It was a visual delight and I am so wanting to return and walk it block by block and photograph it all. It was compact and full of amazing architectural details. Our hotel was located around the corner and down a couple of blocks from The Orpheum.

Please do stop by and take a peek at other participants My World submissions this week by clicking MY WORLD . I so like seeing what everyone else is up to around the world.