I travel fairly often, and particularly love going to Italy, and the following places are locations around the United States and the world that I’ve visited. They give a good idea of context to St. Louis; what they’re doing is often better or worse than St. Louis, and they also help show us where from and how St. Louis developed.
Founded at the point inland on the Chesapeake Bay where several rugged rivers met the sea, Baltimore was an industrial powerhouse, much like St. Louis, in the Nineteenth Century. Suffering many of the same problems as it western counterpart, the city still struggles to recover from its decline in the mid-Twentieth Century.
Central Illinois is where my family has lived since the 1840’s and still owns a farm east of Peoria. Long settled, the area is culturally and architecturally rich, and I set out to document the places where my family lived and worked for over 150 years.
Long St. Louis’s competitor to the north, Chicago passed the city by as its railroad connections pushed west, bypassing St. Louis and assuring its hegemony over the Midwest hinterlands. Possessing some of the most stunning skyscrapers of the turn of the Twentieth Century, the city is a vibrant, if sometimes troubled counterpoint to many of the failed decisions of past St. Louis leadership.
Situated on the Ohio River, Cincinnati played a pivotal role in the development of the Northwestern Territory, bringing German immigrants such as Adam Lemp and Adolphus Busch to its streets before they continued on to St. Louis. Neighborhoods such as Over the Rhine have been redeveloped in the previous decades, providing an interesting comparison to the Gateway City.
Where the Cuyahoga River empties out into Lake Erie rose one of the most brawny and sublime cities in America. Cleveland is gritty, rough and has taken a beating over the course of the late Twentieth Century, but its beauty remains. The soaring Terminal Tower anchors a revitalized downtown, high above a seething industrial valley. Its lakeshore docks once held giant mechanical beasts that chomped up millions of tons of iron ore for the steel mills of Ohio and Pennsylvania. Stretching out for miles in every direction are miles and miles of working class neighborhoods for the workers who once fueled one of the great powerhouses of America. Cleveland is still alive and powerful today.
Long associated with the most iconic American consumer product, the automobile, and also with its most dogged social issue, racism, Detroit has seen both meteoric growth and decline. Growing to be one of the largest cities in the United States in both population and shear geographic size, Detroit has experienced a rebirth of sorts in the new millennium, despite its disastrous municipal bankruptcy in 2013. The question remains, though: will the new Detroit and its strikingly beautiful architecture be inclusive of all people, or exclusive?
I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the state of Iowa, and it has some of the most beautiful architectural legacy of anywhere I’ve traveled in America. From its iconic courthouses and Second Empire and Italianate farmhouses, the built environment is rich with history. Much of the emphasis on here has increasingly been on Northeast Iowa.
The largest city in America, New York has had a lasting effect on the rest of the country. The Brooklyn Bridge, above, was influenced by our own Eads Bridge, and skyscrapers were influenced by the Wainwright Building. The economic and cultural influence of New York, however, plays a role in the history of St. Louis to the present day.
I fell in love with the desolate rolling hills and small, quaint towns of Northeast Missouri while in college at Truman State University. While the area is losing population, it still possesses a distinctive and charming character. There are beautiful courthouses sitting high on hills surrounded by rolling farmland, and quiet cemeteries and churches lying out in the countryside.
Located on the west side of Missouri, Kansas City is the other major metropolis besides St. Louis. Straddling the state line with Kansas, the city has long been a hub for the railroads and meat packing, with cattle coming from the western states through its yards. It is now growing into a modern city with sprawling suburbs.
The Twin Cities of Minnesota, Minneapolis and St. Paul, were powered first by water from the rapids along the Mississippi River, giving us iconic historic brands such as Pillsbury and General Mills. The economy has diversified and now famous corporations the likes of 3M and Target call the metropolitan region home.
Washington, District of Columbia
The architecture of Washington, outside the monumental core, is humanly scaled, well-preserved and possessing some of the best Italianate, Second Empire and Gilded Age mansions in the entire United States. Beyond the Washington Monument, there’s a whole city to explore.
Other Cities, Towns and Special Places
Some cities and towns might not have enough posts yet to necessitate a full entry on this page, so for the time being you can read them here.