I don’t specifically remember seeing this building in my childhood as I crossed the iconic McKinley Bridge, often with my dear Uncle Virgil. That is perhaps because at that time McKinley bridge demanded all of the terrified attention of a child, with its “outrigger” lanes added as an afterthought to the outside of the main bridge structure and its two-way-head-on-collision-waiting-to-happen traffic down the narrow middle. Each time one crossed the driver had to pick his poison, and pay for the privilege, it being a toll road.
Sometime after the bridge was closed and reconstructed and reopened in 2007, I began to take notice as this building was being prepped for demolition. Yesterday on my bicycle ride across the beautiful bike lane of the renewed bridge, I noticed that the demolition had made great strides and I stopped to take some pictures.
The scene below me was amazing. In some ways the cranes looked like miniatures. And one of them was parked right in the belly of the building. It was the building itself that was perhaps the most interesting, packed full of intricate structures like an organism being dissected. And all around the yard huge metal structures which had been removed and sorted looked like strange internal organs.
The building itself was once the Venice Power Plant, most recently operated by Ameren, which once was a coal fired plant and more recently was converted to oil and natural gas. And though it is sad to see such an old building demolished and have its architecture lost, it will be good to have that land restored, as I found that at least parts of it, and perhaps the whole, might be considered a brownfield site. And it seems like the folks at Spirtas are getting on with it.
I hope you enjoy the pictures. Be sure to enlarge the last one to see the arch and one pylon of the new bridge spanning the Mississippi in the background.
Driving home from Illinois tonight, I decided to stop by downtown to see what I might see through my camera. The area surrounding Busch Stadium was almost completely deserted, a far cry from the crushing crowd that night in October when the Cardinals clinched the World Series.
And as I walked I wondered to myself whether or not this version of Busch Stadium, Busch III, could rightly be called “the house that Albert built.” I figured probably not, but he certainly was key in filling the seats in it and its predecessor for the 10 years he played here, which makes it all the more sad that there is a good chance that he may never have a statue at the stadium. If he had not ended up an Angel, he would almost certainly have had one to match the large one of Stan Musial outside the stadium’s main entrance. Though I am still rather upset with Mr. Pujols, still rather sore, I guess deep down I hope that one day he may, indeed, join Stan Musial, Enos Slaughter, and Rogers Hornsby in this pantheon of smaller statues–if that blasted personal service contract he signed will allow him!
One thing I do know–whether or not any night in St. Louis next October will approach the glory of those final two nights of the World Series this past October, the summer will be full of stories, nonetheless, of batting averages and home run totals and team records. It will be full of steamy days and rain delays, hot dogs and beer, Cubbies and Cardinals. And, yes, I will be keeping one eye on the coast.
I have always thought that this massive, intricate sculpture by Albert Paley does not get the attention and accolades that it deserves. One reason that this may be so is that it is made from weathering or COR-TEN steel on which the outer layer rusts to form a protective coating on the steel. This means that there is not much contrast to a structure which is made from it. And, consequently, I believe some of the intricate designs of these amazing sculptural animals, made all the more amazing by their grouping together in such a large piece, are lost on people who are either driving or walking by and are not willing to spend some time with it.
And, so, I was especially excited when I drove by yesterday in the midst of a heavy snowfall to see how the wet snow was sticking to parts of the statue, thus creating contrast and highlighting the intricacies of the animal designs. In some of the early pictures, unfortunately there is a fair bit of blowing snow which sometimes gets in the way, but the later shots are from after a late night sledding session on Art Hill (woo hoo!) when the snow had stopped and all was still. You can see from picture number 3 below, which includes an SUV, just how big this piece is. If you have not seen it in person, I hope that you may come to St. Lou and see it yourself some time. It will be worth it, not to mention visiting our world class zoo!
I briefly attend Wintermarkt held in the Skinker DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis as it was winding down. There were all manner of handmade goods for sale. I had already missed most of the other activities and food options, but this great accordion player was still playing. For more info on the market and community click here.