Built as a silent movie theatre in 1929, the Fox was reportedly the second-largest theater in the United States. It was one of St. Louis's leading movie theaters through the 1960s, and today is a performing arts venue.
According to my "Rent" playbill, the theatre is decorated in an eclectic blend of Asian decorative motifs referred to as "Siamese Byzantine". Reporters in 1929 described the Fox Theatre as "awe-inspiringly fashioned after Hindoo (sic) Mosques of Old India, bewildering in their richness and dazzling in their appointments … striking a note that reverberates around the architectural and theatrical worlds."
It is overwhelmingly beautiful, gilded and opulent - you don't know where to look first. The elephant-motif carpet, the lush velvet curtains, the gilded, half-naked statues... It is a feast for the senses. Unfortunately, my camera remained sheathed for fear of being booted from the venue - the announcement was loud and clear that no photos were to be taken during the performance. Check out the Fox's website to get a taste of the old-timey glamour.
They city has a lot of old structures that are elegant and made of facing huge limestone blocks. Most are on Grand and Market Sts. near the Courthouse. Most were built during the 1930-40's and this style was popular.
"The Hill" is St. Louis's version of Manhattan's "Little Italy". It's THE best place to find Italian food and food imports. The neighborhood is still close-knit and it's always a pleasure to visit here.
In the words of David O'Brien (of About.com: St. Louis), "Settlement of what's now called "the Hill" began in the 1830's, but the area boomed later that century with the discovery of rich clay mines. The mines and other jobs attracted large numbers of Italian immigrants, and by the end of the nineteenth century, the area was a virtual "Little Italy."The small neighborhood has played a large role in the history of sports in America. One city block of the neighborhood is famous for hosting the boyhood homes of Baseball Hall of Famers Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola, as well as the home of Jack Buck as he began his broadcast career. The neighborhood also produced approximately half of the 1950 U.S. soccer team that upset top-ranked England in the World Cup."
If you are in St. Louis for business or pleasure, take the time to plan a lunch or dinner "on The Hill". It's well worth it.
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington Univeristy is an excellent college collection that benefits both the campus and the community. It provides students at Wash U with the opportunity of learning about museum work from the inside, while it also gives the St. Louis area another venue for the small and distinctive travelling or temporary exhibitions. The University has a large and interesting collection of art in its permanent holdings, and the Museum also displays the work of some of the outstanding students in the Fine Arts Program here.
The Museum is housed in a new building (2006) which was designed by prominent Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki - the recipient of the prestigous Pritzker Prize in 1993. Maki is now based in Japan, but spent the early years of his career teaching architecture at Wash U, where he also responsible for Steinberg Hall (1963), his first American building.
The central lobby of the M.L. Kemper Museum is dominated by an installation by Olafur Elliasson, "Your Imploded View." I was especially impressed with the sculpture garden, whose highlights include an interesting Alexander Calder, "Five Rudders" (1964) and a striking Maillol, "Homage to Debussy" (1930).
The Museum is open daily EXCEPT FOR TUESDAYS. (don't ask me)
This handsome old church sits above the streaming traffic of I-70 across the street. The Basilica of St. Louis is the oldest Roman Catholic Cathedral west of the Mississippi River. When the entire surrounding neighborhood was cleared to make-way for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (40 blocks!), the Cathedral was spared - but it now looks somewhat out of place, and is definitely dwarfed by Eero Saarinen's soaring arch.
The building which you see dates from the early 1830s, although the land on which it sits was originally given to the church in the 1770s by Pierre Laclede. The architectural firm of Lavielle and Morton were responsible for its design - they were also commissioned to create the original Courthouse nearby.
My photo was taken from my hotel room on the 11th floor of the Hyatt Riverside (formerly the Adams Mark.)
Kansas City, with some 445,000 people, is the largest city in Missouri. Kansas City is headquarters to four Fortune 500 companies: Sprint Nextel Corporation, H&R Block, Embarq Corporation, and YRC Worldwide Inc. Kansas is perhaps best well known for its distinctive Kansas City-style barbecue, a sweeter sauce probably best known in the national KC Masterpiece brand bbq sauce.
One of my favorite landmarks in Kansas City is its Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It was dedicated in 1986 and contains the names of all 336 Kansas City area soldiers who lost their lives in this war. This beautiful park full of stone and fountains is located at 4298 Baltimore Avenue, at the intersection with Vietnam Veterans Memorial Drive.
If you are in St. Louis in July with a free Sunday or Monday evening, be SURE to go to hear the Compton Heights Band concert in Tower Grove Park (Monday) or Francis Park (Sunday). This is a treat for many good reasons. First of all, here you are doing what your ancestors from the late 19th Century did on a hot July night, listening to a volunteer concert band play John Philip Sousa and American Classics. Sure, there is a rare bad note, but this band really does excel at Sousa marches. Also, there is a featured band or artist, including occasionally the amazing basso profundo of Robert Ellison! Second, there you are in Tower Grove Park (not even listed as a category in VT, unfortunately). This is the largest Victorian walking park in North America, with many gezebos. The actual site of the Tower Grove concert is surrounded by restored busts of various 19th Century composers. Third, there is popcorn and ice cream. Fourth, you are surrounded by native ST. Louisans and their families. Once a year the band plays all the theme songs for the various branches of the armed services, and many, many men who have defended our country stand. Fifth, as the lady announcer says, it is 15 degrees cooler than anywhere else outside in St. Louis. Bring your own folding chairs, pick up some fried fish or chicken and a cool beverage, and be prepared to see the lightning bugs rise as the evening progresses. And at least once, you'll get to see a full moon. It just doesn't get any better than this!!
The town is celebratory second only to Chicago in the St. Patricks Day events. It seems like the whole town is ready to get down and have fun. Many events are held in the downtown area, and it draws thousands for the parade and then the run and then the bar hopping. All restaurant, except maybe Thai become St. Pats green for the day or two celebrations.
The Moolah Theater is a single screen movie theater, bar, and bowling alley housed in a gorgeously restored and architecturally interesting Moolah Temple. The neighboring architecture such as the Scottish Rite Temple and others give the street some of the most unique and impressive architecture in the city.
The movies are shown on the large screen which is housed in the original 2 story ballroom space. There are typical theater seats on the mezzanine but the best seats are on the floor. These are overstuffed leather couches and chairs (with accompanying side tables) where one can really relax and enjoy the movie.
The theater is great for adults who like a more 'refined' versus 'family' atmosphere. Children under 5 are not allowed after 5pm and the lobby has a full service bar which allows patrons to bring any drink into the theater. While there is a good draw from SLU, crowds here tend not to have many teenagers like theaters in the suburbs or malls.
The theater shows first-run movies (it operates as the main screen for the Chase Park Cinema a few blocks away).
This renovated 3 screen theater has a great collection of old movie posters & movie-related collectibles on display. They retained many of the architectural features of an old movie house, including the little box office out on the sidewalk. I, actually, enjoy standing on line at this theater to buy a ticket! The refreshment area & the staff are great, too.
But the best thing is the films they show, which rate tops around the world. Many of the films I see are at this theater because I normally don't go to the ones the majority of Americans see. They have special events, including film festivals, here, too.
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The City Museum isn't just for kids. Recently a conference I attended hosted a reception there & I can't tell you how much fun I had climbing around all of the contraptions suspended over the roof. There is a school bus, a hippo, and this praying mantis perched atop the old warehouse building that houses the museum. Kids of all ages can climb through the belly of a whale, watch a glass blowing demonstration, or slide down the 2 story slide. It's the brainchild of a local artist, it's unique, and it's alot of fun.
While you are at the Arch, be sure to check out the fantastic Eads Bridge, just to the north. Completed in 1874, it was the first bridge to span the Mississippi. The steel archways were unique, and it's design has stood the test of time. It is not only beautiful, but also functional. It carries the light rail system across the river as well as traffic and a pedestrian walkway.
There are a number of good birding sites in this area to visit. Tower Groove Park is good during the warmer months and is very pretty. Horseshoe Lake (just outside the city on 255 North) is a good place to find water loving birds. Riverlands Ecological area is a good place to see Eagles, but I think they are only there in the winter. There is a bird feeding station at Powder Valley Park off 44W in the Western burbs of the city.
D'Vine Wine of Kirkwood is a small winery in the heart of historic Kirkwood (a couple townships/suburbs west of the city of St. Louis). The winemaker is a woman, and she turned her love for winemaking into a business. She uses grapes from all over the world, and sell her wine at the winery on Kirkwood Rd (aka Lindbergh Blvd).
You can taste 3 wines for $5 and most of the bottles are less than $20. The tasting room is warmly decorated to resemble a cellar or an old building somewhere in Tuscany (even though I have never been to Tuscany, this is what I think it would look like :))
The hours posted on the web site are guidelines. If she is busy she will stay open later. If she is not, she may be closed. Weekend days are typically busier - and you will have a good chance the winery will be open.
The Fox Theater is another St. Louis landmark. I recently saw the musical 'Wicked' there and had an incredible time. There is a great Bistro across the street where you can enjoy a nice dinner and music before your show.
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