Monday, August 13, 2007

St. Louis Insider

Riverfront park (Metro--Take the hotel shuttle to the airport and light rail to the riverfront.)

We have the only one in the world--Eero Saarinen's Spectacular monument to westward expansion-The Gateway Arch. It towers over the Mississippi and two premiere attractions, the Eads Bridge and Jefferson National Expansion Park. Going up in cable cars small enough to fit inside the Arch's steel and concrete legs is not for the claustrophobic. The view at the top is worth it, though.

But the park is more than the Arch. The Arch base houses a fine little museum. On the grounds is St. Louis Basilica, the oldest Cathedral west of the Mississippi (1770) where mass is still celebrated every day. The park reaches into the city itself with the Old Courthouse and its fascinating history. You can see the courtroom where Dred Scott was denied freedom and the hall where Reese Happersett refused to let Virginia Minor vote. Both began landmark civil rights cases which went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Only blocks away you can amble around the brick streets of Laclede's Landing, a quirky place with nightclubs and a casino, wax museums, puppets and the only Dental Health Theatre in the world.

Athletic types can rent a bike or quadricycle (for 4 people) and pedal one of only two urban bike trails in the country. Converted from an old trolley line, ours roams past the industrial waterfront. The return trip offers spectacular views of the 1874 Eads Bridge. Unlike the short-lived I-35 bridge at Minneapolis,this bridge was designed his to last as long as the pyramids. James Eads built the unbuildable bridge--with a 6442 foot span, a bridge still rated above the vast majority of bridges for structural integrity.

America's cheerleader poet Walt Whitman loved to look at the Eads Bridge by moonlight. He called it a "Structure of perfection, beauty unsurpassable."
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