25 May 2016--Spent the past 1 1/2 days walking around St Louis, with our 1st stops at the famous Arch, and then to the Old Courthouse and Old Cathedral...these 3 stops are all in an area called the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (JNEM for short, if you see it typed or written anywhere else here..haha)
On the sidewalks and streets all around the area are these logos, pointing the way to the Arch...made me think of a McDonald's commercial!
This Old Courthouse was originally built in 1828, and the Old Cathedral was built in 1834. This is the courthouse where Dred Scott and his wife Harriet 1st sued for their freedom, and it stands on what is now a major street called "Dred Scott Way".
We arrived late in the day on Monday, but fearing the expected forecast of rain over the next several days we decided to go up in the Arch right away. This 1st picture is the Arch as viewed from the steps of the Old Courthouse. The Arch is a tribute to Thomas Jefferson's foresight regarding the Louisiana Purchase, and the ultimate opening of the west through St Louis.
The idea of the Jefferson National Expansion Monument was put into place by FDR in 1935, but the Arch wasn't actually finished until 1965. Once started, I think we read it took only 3 years to build! Look at how much taller it is than both the Statue of Liberty and the Washington Monument!
You ride to the top of the Arch inside the right or left "leg" of the structure...630 feet to the top, in a train of 7-8 "pods" that rises horizontally a bit, but then rises vertically, one pod behind the other. You would think that you are gonna be riding up on your back like you would up a roller coaster hill, but the pods adjust like a ferris wheel would and always keep you riding in a seated position!!!
Only 5 people fit in each pod, in a fairly cramped space...it takes about 4 minutes to get to the top, while only about 3 minutes to get back down. (On the way down we were in there with a couple of hefty people so it seemed even more cramped than on the way up. ) My 1st thought upon entering was that my brother Brian would never do this...talk about claustrophobia! haha These are the doors you enter to each pod, and though they don't look like it, the pods are all attached and move together.
The view from the top is really nice, with the city out one side and the Mississippi River out the back. On the far left side of the city pic is Busch Stadium, home of the St Louis Cardinals baseball team. In the middle is the Old Courthouse.
Back on the ground, the 2nd pic shows the top of the Arch and the windows we were looking out of to get our pics.
The Old Courthouse from the far side, looking towards the Arch and river.
The inside of the Old Courthouse almost looked like a Capitol building that we usually see. The colors and paintings were really pretty and you can go all the way up to the 4th floor to see everything up close.
Interesting that the artists chose men to depict "Law and Instruction", while women are chosen to depict "Constancy and Diligence". I guess even then they knew women would have to be constantly diligent to ignore them! haha
There are a couple exhibits inside the Courthouse, as it is serving as somewhat of a history museum while a new one is built. One room dealt with the westward expansion of settlers; it is estimated that 300,000 people passed through here between 1843 and 1869 on their way to California/Oregon. Most of course went with wagon trains--wagons that didn't have seats or brakes and certainly no springs. We usually see movies where the "little woman and children" are riding in the wagon, but here they said that the wagons were used to cart the family belongings, not people!!! The people walked!
They also said that contrary to popular belief, the Native Americans were originally friendly, up to about the late 1850s when they grew tired of the constant migration and slaughter of the buffalo and their way of life. The last pic is a mound of buffalo skulls.
A map in 2015 of all the Reservations...seems like a lot, but it's only 3% of the country's lower 48 landmass!
Another room was dedicated primarily to Dred and Harriet Scott, explaining how they and some others managed to sue for their freedom.
On to the Old Cathedral,which is called that because a new Cathedral (that we haven't been to yet) was built on the far west side of town; so this one is now officially the Basilica of St Louis.
And out into the streets to see what we could see. I thought this was a statue of Olive Oil from the old Popeye cartoon, (we were actually on Olive Street), but it was just some modern art.
Walked a bunch of blocks to another Cathedral, this one called Christ Church Cathedral and built in 1888. It is a Protestant Cathedral...out of England. It wasn't in a very good neighborhood, so other than inside the church itself, we didn't dally in that area! haha
And a lot more block walking around town and ultimately to what is supposed to be the Historic Laclede's Landing. It seems to have delusions of becoming something like Quincy Market in Boston, but fell woefully short. Maybe it picks up at night, but in the late afternoon nothing was happening.
So that's it for now...stay tuned for more!