Monday, May 09, 2011

You Can't See This from Alaska!

Terrace View Cafe at City Garden

May is prom season in St. Louis and just about everywhere else. So early Friday evening, we found ourselves playing catchup to a group of high school seniors riding a rented coach to snap a few pictures of the sharply dressed young people enjoying a big night out.

Via text message and cell phone we were told we could catch up to the crew at the Arch grounds. Spaces on the Old Cathedral parking lot were being sold for $10 apiece for that night's Cardinal game, but when we explained to the lot attendents that we were only there to snap a few photos, they let us park for free.

While we were waiting, a somewhat lost looking late-20-ish man walked by. He was marvelinig at the Arch. He was utterly amazed by it. "How old is it?", he asked. "Why isn't it more corroded?" "Can you go up in it?". "How do you get up in it?".

Being the astute STL Rising observers that we are, we asked if he was from out of town. He was! He was visiting St. Louis from Alaska and was checking out the Arch. But, sadly, his girl had left him there alone.

We couldn't tell if he had a ride to his next stop or not, but he was friendly enough and eager to chat. So I asked him if he'd like some ideas for places to see. Yes, he was interested. I suggested he make the short trip south to visit the Soulard and Lafayette Square neighborhoods, famous for their historic architecture, fine restaurants, and live music scene. He said he thought maybe he had already been there. He took out his smart phone.

He played a video on it that he shot earlier in his trip. The video was taken from a moving car and showed house after house built of brick and stone. I recognized the street. These buildings weren't in Lafayette Square or Soulard; they were about sixty years younger. These were from my neighborhood! He had been riding around shooting video of random city neighborhoods.

"We don't have anything like this in Alaska!", he proclaimed.

"But that's not Soulard or Lafayette Square", I replied. "In fact, that's my neighborhood! Soulard and Lafayette Square are waaay older. They pre-date the arrival of the automobile. You really need to go check out those places if you like neat old neighborhoods".

Now, I've never been to Alaska, nor is it on my short list of places to visit. Some people say you can even see across the Bering Strait from there. I didn't think that was possible. And I understand that the government
pays its residents to live there.

On the other hand, here in St. Louis, we pay a premium to live in a place where folks from out of town come and marvel at the beauty.

So, we finally caught up to the prom goers at Citygarden. Once there, we found the place filled with teens from across the region stopped to take prom photos amongst City Garden's many photo-friendly spots.

Two St. Louis seniors on prom night enjoying Citygarden in downtown STL

To our new friend from Alaska: welcome to St. Louis and thanks for visiting our fair city! We hope you were reunited with your girl sometime later that evening and had a good time together, perhaps visiting Soulard, Lafayette Square or one of the city's many other unique and interesting neighborhoods!

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