Ashley Street Power Plant

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The Union Electric Power plant down along the wharf produces steam for downtown office buildings, but once presumably churned out thick black smoke. What is so interesting about such a utilitarian building is its rich, Neoclassical ornamentation. This building was meant to convey not just strength, but a certain level of artistic sophistication now so lacking in most large power plants. Also of interest is the small, triangular cut out of the front of the building, presumably to allow for train tracks to closely abut the side of the building. Admittedly, the building is absolutely filthy, a victim of the high sulfur content of southern Illinois coal. Perhaps if it was renovated into luxury condos it would be returned to its former cleanliness, but I have to admit I like that this old power plant is still chugging along after close to a century of use.

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