Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Meet Me In St. Louis

Looking up at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (aka the Gateway Arch). Definitely very impressive from the outside. Also impressive? The line to get in. Depending on time of day, you could spend more time waiting in line than actually riding the elevator to the observation deck.
Inside Union Station. The station, repurposed as a hotel, is a grand space with a nightly light show. One of the more impressive public spaces in the City.
At Busch Stadium with a view of the Arch, Court House, and downtown.
A view from behind home plate.
One of the great things about St. Louis is all the public art and sculptures on display. This is part of a larger display along Market Street. 
Soulard Market is a hidden gem near the Budweiser brewery (and tours and free tastings). However, this is more likely to leave a lasting impression with a copious amount of fresh food, spices, teas, and other local delicacies. 
More of the fresh food on display.
From the top of the Gateway Arch looking West. There was a bit of haze plus the windows don't exactly give you the clearest views (and they're incredibly tiny - each one is less than a foot high and about 18 inches wide). Everyone gets wedged in tight up there trying to hunch over to get a view, let alone decent photos.
Fountains outside Union Station at night. 
More fountains outside Union Station.
The Lincoln home in Springfield, Illinois. It's where Lincoln accepted the nomination to lead the Republican Party in the 1861 presidential elections, which he won. 
We hit several stretches of Route 66 in and around St. Louis. This particular stretch was near the Lincoln National Historic Site.
Inside the State Capitol of Illinois.
Looking up at the State Capitol of Illinois.
St. Charles, Missouri. Home to the first state capitol and first capital of Missouri.
White Haven, the home owned by US Grant and where he lived prior to the Civil War. It's where he met his wife, who was from a family of slave holders. 
Inside the Budweiser Brewery.
Inside the Court House where the state's Dred Scott cases played out.
This space is recreating the look and feel of the court room at the time of the Dred Scott decision. The courtroom was originally several times larger than this.

Walking through the Old Courthouse, you could really feel the history around you. Hitting these historic sites really did give you a sense of the importance of the St. Louis environs and why events turned out the way they did - it was where US Grant got his first exposure to slavery (via his wife's family). It's where the infamous Dred Scott case worked its way through the courts on its way to an abominable decision by the Taney court, and where the nation was at a crossroads- literally and figuratively as a central point on the way West.

If you want to get a primer on civil rights and equal protection under the law, look no further than the courthouse downtown. The courtroom for Dred Scott leaves a lasting impression on those willing to learn - we are still a world away from truly having equal protection under the law, and minorities are still persecuted and not treated equally.

That goes for religious as well as ethnic minorities. So, when I hear about how Christian persecution in the US, I have to wonder what planet these people are talking about, because Christians aren’t being persecuted here - they’re being exposed to the limits of separation of church and state as the Founders wanted because no religion shall be established, which means that Christians can’t impose their views on everyone else through state acts (like legislation).

A few other observations about St. Louis in general. The food is pretty damned good. Had Imo's and Ted Drewes as well as great Italian food at a place off the beaten path. Square One distillery and brewery is a nice spot in the Lafayette neighborhood. The area's parks and recreation activities are quite nice, and there's plenty of distinctive architecture to take in.

But there was one thing I couldn't quite figure out. Why did local and state leaders think that every street, let alone highway needed more lanes of traffic? The place could have accommodated two or three times as much traffic and still had room for several times more. It's one of the most overbuilt areas for roads I've ever traveled. The area could definitely benefit from a road diet.

For these photos, I shot with my Canon 60D and either the Sigma 8-16mm, f4.5-5.6 or Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lenses.

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