Near North Riverfront, Early Fall 2022

It had been a little while since I had photographed the rapidly diminishing warehouses of the Near North Riverfront, specifically the ones just to the north of the casino, which has weirdly changed its name to the Horseshoe, which makes it sound like it should be out in the middle of nowhere in Texas or something. One of the first times I photographed the area seems to be in October of 2008.

Compton and Dry, Pictorial St. Louis, 1876, Plate 19. Library of Congress.

The whole area just north of Laclede’s Landing was so bustling that when Camille Dry and Richard Compton created a test plate to gauge the interest of the public for their Pictorial St. Louis, they chose the very area that I walked to take these photographs. Basically everything in this lithograph is gone, except for the building that houses Al’s, but even that is in a heavily modified form. Already by the 1930s, if not much earlier, much of that old riverfront area had been demolished, replaced by what was mostly railyards and some warehouses. There was no dense city left by any stretch of the imagination, as can be seen by this later 1960s photo below.

Dorrill Studio, Detail of View of Downtown During Arch Construction, April 1964, Missouri History Museum, P0243-12394-01-8a

There were some warehouses and manufacturing buildings left, but even they were already being torn down. One that is still standing is the massive Norvelle Shapleigh Warehouse, which is still in good condition, but is completely vacant as far as I know. It really was just the above named building for the first four bays going down the tracks (which is actually 1st Street, and then there are three other compartmentalized buildings.

I’ve photographed the Beck and Corbitt Building on numerous occasions over the years, starting in December of 2010 along with the Norvelle Shapleigh Building and the now-gone Sligo Steel Building,

Little did I know that the photos above and below would be the last I would ever take of the building.

The warehouse below is one of a whole row of sugar refrigerated sugar warehouses, and in this case it was Number 3. It burned several years ago, which you can see the aftermath of here. It was in the dead of winter so the ice froze in interesting sculpture-like shapes.

I still love the old Ashley Street Power Plant, which is still providing steam for the steam loop around downtown. I think I first photographed it back in July of 2007.

I still think the type font and how it fits in the attic of the building is cool.

The nearby Laclede plant is still hoping for renovation.

The power plant, minus its smokestack, for the refrigerated warehouses still has a business in it, I think.

A lot of the graffiti on Rootwad Park, the last private commission of Bob Cassilly, has been cleaned up, as well. I think it looks better than it has in years.

The power lines inspire the yearly Artica festival.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Ray Farnworth says:


    I’ve enjoyed your blog for a few years… and I’ve worked at the Ashley Power Plant since 91. If you ever would like to take a tour or some pictures of the interior, which is quite unique. Get a hold of me, and I’m sure I can arrange it.

    1. cnaffziger says:

      Oh, I would be really interested in that!

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