FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Home | | Site Map/Index/Site Search | | Web Log | | St. Louis Architecture Links
About the Site / Contact | | FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) | | Non-St. Louis links

  1. Who took all those photographs?
  2. May I use one of the images on your site?
  3. Why is there so much stuff about the Continental Building?
  4. Is there anything on the site about (name of building)?
  5. What can you tell me about (name of building/name of architect)?
  6. Do you know anything about the building at this street address?
  7. Where else can I look for answers?
  8. How can I get into (name of abandoned building)?
  9. What are the tallest buildings in St. Louis? How tall is (name of building)?
  10. What is a good guidebook to St. Louis architecture?
  11. I'm going to be visiting St. Louis. What would you recommend I see?
  12. Would you be interested in an article/old photograph of one of the buildings on your site?
  13. Who the hell are you?
  14. Why do you maintain this site?
  15. So are you ever moving back here?

  1. Who took all those photographs?

    Unless otherwise credited, all photographs on the site are my own. I use a Fuji FinePix A340 digital camera these days -- it's a great little camera, very light, very fast, very cheap. When I feel the need for real film, I use a battered old Pentax K1000 (fully manual!) with a couple of zoom lenses. I use the cheapest film and developing I can find (a necessity, considering that when I'm out exploring, I can go through as many as a dozen rolls of film in a single day.) I scan 'em on a Visioneer scanner (which I do NOT recommend as it tends to crash my computer a lot) and tweak 'em in Photoshop.

  2. May I use one of the images on your site?

    Please email me to ask before using any image from this site for the Web or other publicly-visible purposes. Odds are I'll say "fine, no problem," but I do like to know where, how, and by who my pictures are being used. After all, I've invested a considerable amount of time, money, and effort in creating this site and its contents... and besides, it's just the polite thing to do.

  3. Why is there so much stuff about the Continental Building compared to everything else?

    Simple. 1, it's my favorite building in the whole city, and 2, I wrote a big research paper on it in college, so the material was ready at hand.

  4. Is there anything on the site about (name of building)?

    Maybe! Check the site map, which lists most of the buildings on the site. If it's downtown, it might be on the Historic Downtown or Washington Avenue tours -- check the text listings.

  5. What can you tell me about (name of building and/or architect)?

    In all probability, not too much. I haven't lived in St. Louis since 1997; I can't exactly run down to the local library anymore. : ] Furthermore, I really don't have any great degree of expertise on St. Louis's architectural history. The buildings I know the most about, and everything I know about them, are already on the site.

    However, I do have photographs of many of the city's major present-day buildings; if you ask nicely I'm certainly willing to share (for the record, I've never had anyone not ask nicely; the site's readers seem to be a friendly and intelligent lot.) I also have a big stockpile of old postcard scans from Ebay saved on my hard drive, mostly covering downtown from the 1900s to the 1920s, which I'm also willing to share as long as it's for private use.

  6. Do you know anything about the building at this street address?

    Again, probably not. The only St. Louis buildings I know by street address are those on the Historic Downtown tour. City Hall's the place to look for information on a specific address.

  7. So then where else can I look for answers?

    First try Google. It's the best search engine on the web. If you can't find it there, there's a good chance it simply can't be had on the Internet.

    The Architecture Links page is a list of some of the major architecture-related sites that have proven to be long-lasting and informative. Most importantly, note the list of blogs at the top. Many of them are written / frequently visited by people who are highly knowledgable about the city.

    Other places to try:

    • Ebay.com. If you're looking for old images of St. Louis, try a search for "st. louis" along with "postcard", "postcards", "architecture", and "building". You'll come up with hundreds of old photographs and prints of the city, all for sale, and most with scans of the images. I've gained a lot of information on the city's downtown this way.

    • Bookstores. Most book stores have a section entitled "Local Interest" that contains all sort of regional books. Some of these will be architecture-related. Even non-architecture books often have photos of architectural interest, particularly if you're after historical pictures. If you don't already have it, buy a copy of George McCue's "Guide to St. Louis Architecture", a terrific handbook of the area's buildings and a good starting point for research.

    • The Public Library. The downtown branch of the St. Louis library maintains several voluminous files of newspaper clippings related to local buildings from the last 20 years or so; ask at the Arts desk to see the Building Files for whatever particular building you're interested in. The Central West End branch has a whole shelf full of local books; other branches probably have some as well. Many of these are out of print volumes that won't be found anywhere else; they are definately worth digging through.

    • The Mercantile Library. No relation to Mercantile Bank, this is one of the oldest libraries in the country. It's private, so you'll have to sign in and have someone assist you, but if you're looking for older articles on a building, this is a terrific resource. They have the files of the St. Louis Globe going back to the 1920s and earlier (this is where I got the oldest articles on the Continental Building.)

    • Missouri Historical Society (Skinker Boulevard). A fabulous and very comprehensive resource. They have all sorts of old records, journals, and newspaper articles, and other resources that I don't even know about myself. The building itself is a treat, as well. Register with the desk in front, then ask for assistance; the staff is very helpful.

    • The History Museum (in Forest Park). Their exhibits often contain historical building info, and their gift shop has many books on old St. Louis. If you're after World's Fair info, this is a good place to start.

    • City Hall taxation/land deed records. I've never done this myself, but apparently in the basement of City Hall there are records of every land transaction recorded in the city of St. Louis. These can give important clues to a building's ownership. Open during business hours.

    • Washington University libraries. You can do a search on their computers for any journal references to your topic. It's likely that the libraries have the journals, as well, or can get it for you. Most of the architecture journals will be housed in the Steinberg Library, in the second floor of the funky 1950s building at the front of campus. To get to the library, go up the steps on the parking lot side of the building. Ignore the glass doors in front of you; go to the left and go in the door that looks like a fire escape. Go up the stairs, turn right at the top. The library is on your left.

  8. How can I get into (name of abandoned building)?

    Beats me -- for the most part I don't venture into abandoned buildings. More to the point, regardless of whether or not I condone the practice, in the interest of legitimacy I wouldn't give out such information over the internet even if I had it. If you've made it this far, you're probably smart enough to figure out such things on your own anyway. There are other sites specifically devoted to such endeavours as well.

  9. What are the tallest buildings in St. Louis? How tall is (name of building)?

    Copied from an informative email sent to me by one ELB78@aol.com (later Rastanx4@aol.com), and enhanced by Slickwell@aol.com, here are some of the tallest buildings in St. Louis along with their architect and date of construction. Note that the Gateway Arch (1965, Eero Saarien) is the tallest structure in St. Louis at 630 feet, but it usually isn't counted among the tallest buildings.

    #1: Metropolitan Square, 600 feet, 42 stories. HOK Architects, 1988. According to this website, it ranks as #396 among the world's tallest buildings. Some interesting figures on that page, incidentally... New York City has 586 buildings over 90 meters in height. Chicago, 256. St. Louis, 14.
    #2: One Bell Center, 588 feet, 44 stories. HOK Architects, 1986.
    #3: Eagleton Courthouse, 557 feet, 27 stories. HOK Architects, 1999.
    #4: Firstar Center (formerly Mercantile Bank Center), 485 feet, 35 stories. Thomson, Ventulett & Stainback, 1976.
    #5: Laclede Gas Building, 400 feet, 35 stories. Emery Roth and Sons, 1969.
    #6: Southwestern Bell Headquarters, 398 feet, 26 stories. 1926.
    #7: Civil Courts Building, 387 feet, 13 stories. Klipstein and Rathmann, 1930.
    #8: Bank of America (formerly Boatmans, Nations Center), 384 feet, 31 stories. 3D International, 1981.
    #9: One City Center, 375 feet, 25 stories. HOK Architects, 1986.
    #10: Sevens Building, 312 feet, 24 stories. 1969.
    #11: Park Plaza, 310 feet, 27 stories. 1930.
    #12: Pierre Laclede Center, 309 feet, 23 stories. Smith and Enterzoth, 1970.
    #13: 500 Broadway, 282 feet, 22 stories. Smith and Enterzoth, 197?.
    #13: Continental Building, 282 feet, 22 stories. William B. Ittner, 1929.
    #14: Equitable Building, 275 feet, 21 stories. HOK Architects, 1971.
    #14: Bank of America tower 275 feet, 22 stories. HOK, 1976.

  10. What is a good guidebook to St. Louis architecture?

    George McCue's "A Guide to the Architecture of St. Louis" (1989, University of Missouri Press) is THE definative field guide to the city's buildings. It covers all sections of the city proper, and devotes several chapters to St. Louis County and even one on Illinois, across the river. It's a bit dated, as it's over ten years old, but still quite useful. I'm not sure if it's still in print, but here's a link to its entry on Amazon.com. If you're feeling less global and more local, Left Bank Books is a great local bookstore in the Central West End whose friendly staff would be happy to track down a copy for you. Give 'em a call.

    Another rich source of information is the guide's predecessor, "The Building Art in St. Louis: Two Centuries". Also by George McCue, its third edition is only 8 years older than the Guide, and it contains many more entries (albeit with much less information on each.) You can probably find a used copy on the Internet. Try the following resellers: Abebooks, Alibris, Bibliofind, and Bookfinder.

    A third recommendation is Landmarks Association's "St. Louis: Landmarks and Historic Districts", by Carolyn Toft and Lynn Josse. This book, revised in 2002, is far more up to date than the previous two, and is not a field guide but a full-sized book with numerous beautiful color photographs and rich background information. As a recent publication, it's available at most local bookstores or through Virginia Publishing.

  11. I'm going to be visiting St. Louis. What would you recommend I see?

    If you have one day, do downtown. Start with the Gateway Arch, which is simply the single most amazing object in the region. The trip to the top is neat, but it's also time-consuming, so I recommend skipping it if you're on a tight schedule. Your time is better spent having a close-up look at the Basilica of St. Louis (the only structure to survive the razing of the 40 square blocks that preceded the Arch grounds) and the venerable Eads Bridge, immediately north of the Arch. On the other side of Eads, you'll find Laclede's Landing, a small, well-preserved 19th century commercial district now full of bars, clubs, and other nightlife.

    From Laclede's, you can procede directly west along Washington Avenue (which marks the northern boundary of downtown.) Here you'll find several dozen old warehouse and garmet buildings from the 1890s and earlier, all wonderfully elaborate. The Convention Center is also here, for whatever that's worth. Don't miss the massive Merchandise Mart on the 1000 block.

    The fabulous City Museum is located on Washington around 16th Street or so, and is not to be missed -- after the Arch, it's my #2 recommendation on things to see and do in St. Louis. Allow at least 2 hours to browse through their collection of architectural fragments from St. Louis and beyond, as well as the inventive, whimsical displays that fill the remainder of the museum. If it's not winter, drop a few extra bucks and let your inner child run loose on the astonishing Monstro City playground.

    Turn south at 13th Street, where you'll find the main branch of the library and the curved facade of the Shell Building. Christ Church Cathedral is immediately adjacent as well. There's a lovely but long-neglected little park behind the library; if the Washington loft district ever gets up to speed, hopefully the park will be revived as well.

    Continue south to the Gateway Mall, the green strip that runs west from the Arch. If you detour a few blocks west you'll find Union Station, the city's former rail terminal, now a magnificent shopping mall. Definately worth an hour or so of exploration, inside and out.

    After the station, ramble eastward along the Gateway Mall. This is the city's civic corridor, where its City Beautiful schemes came to fruition. Along the way you'll pass the Civil Courts (with the pyramid on top), the elaborate City Hall, the Municipal Courts, and the old Opera House, among others. One Bell Center is a restrained but impressive post-Modern highrise with frontage on the Mall's north side. Past this is Keiner Plaza, with its nifty stepped fountains. Do NOT miss the Wainright Building, which is hidden by that bland post-Modern building in the middle of the Gateway Mall. Finally, the Old Court House is the Mall's other central piece of architecture.

    To see St. Louis's most heavily urbanized streets, double back a bit and head north, to Olive and 9th Streets. Here you'll be in the heart of what survives of historic downtown. The Old Post Office is the centerpiece, but don't miss the Arcade/Wright (empty and boarded up at present) to the south, the Syndicate Trust and the former site of the Century Building on the west, the American Theater a block or two north, the Union Trust and Chemical Building to the east, and the Railway Exchange building further east. The Railway Exchange forms one end of a downtown mall called America's Center, but it's a bit down at the heels. Union Station's the better bet for shopping and people watching.

    If you've got time for just one other thing, there's no doubt what it should be: the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Located in the city's southern reaches, the Gardens are spectacular beyond belief and are not to be missed. Tower Grove Park, immediately south of them, is a beautiful old Victorian walking park and one of my favorite places in the city. The nearby blocks of Grand Avenue (which marks the east end of the park) contain a nice variety of shops and restaurants.

    If you've really got time to kill, here's a short list of the city's neatest areas:

    • The Central West End (centered at Maryland and Euclid -- don't miss the incredible private streets)
    • Forest Park (the Art Museum, the Zoo, and the Missouri Historical Museum are all free) just to the west of the CWE.
    • The Washington University campus, on the west edge of Forest Park, is among the finest college campuses in America.
    • The Delmar Loop, located a few blocks north of Wash. U's campus, is the city's most eclectic commercial district.
    • Soulard, a red-brick neighborhood about a mile south of downtown, and the adjacent Anheiser-Busch brewery. Soulard is a big spot for bars and restaurants.
    • Lafayette Square, the city's first "suburb", is located several blocks west of Soulard and contains the oldest public park west of the Mississippi.
    • Cherokee Street east of Jefferson Avenue, a thick concentration of antique dealers and other shops.
    • Carondolet Park near the city's southern border, with its boathouse and bizarre sinkholes.
    • St. Charles, a seperate town way way out west on the highway, has a great little Main Street district.

    OH! And if you get the chance, take a tour ($5) of the Fox Theater in Midtown. It's worth the money, trust me. Call for days and hours. Check out the Continental Building while you're in the neighborhood -- it's right around the corner.

  12. Would you be interested in an article/old photograph of one of the buildings on your site?

    Oh lord, YES. I would be eternally in your debt.

    In particular, I am looking for good pictures of the following demolished buildings:

    • Holland Building
    • Third National Bank Building
    • Rivoli Theater (later the Towne Theater)
    • Columbia Building (pre-1977)
    • Carleton Building
    • Ambassador Building
    • Cotton Belt Building (formerly Planter's Hotel)
    • Buder Building (formerly Missouri Pacific)
    • Title Guaranty Building (formerly Lincoln Trust)
    • International Building
    • St. Louis Title Co. Building
    • Demenil Building
    • Children's Building
    • Veteran's Administration Building

  13. Who the hell are you, anyway?

    From a St. Louis perspective, I'm a former Washington University student who graduated in May of 1996, and moved to the East coast (Philadelphia) a year later. After three years there, I moved to Milwaukee to begin graduate school in architecture, at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. I graduated from UWM in December 2003 and eventually made my way to Chicago. Before Wash U, I grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana.

  14. Why do you maintain this site?

    Because the architecture of St. Louis simply blew me away when I first saw it and continued to do so for as long as I lived there. There's nothing like it where I came from, and even after travelling to many other cities, I have to say that St. Louis's architecture and urban landscape still beats out that of almost any American city of similar size.

    What really got my goose, however - what has always struck me as totally unfathomable -- was how much of the city was being left to ruin. I wanted to preserve all these sad old buildings somehow -- archive them, record them, make them available to the public, show people what was going on in the city. All the ancient decaying shells deserved some kind of memorial... even the ones that weren't gone yet.

    The earliest version of the site came about in late 1996 when I was first thinking of creating a web page, and considered what I could contribute to the Web that would actually be original and unique as well as interesting to me personally. This being back in the days before comprehensive search engines like Google.com, I hit on the idea of gathering together every link on the entire web that related to the city's architecture -- kind of a one-stop shop for St. Louis building information. Hence the links section on the main page. Shortly thereafter came a page of various buildings I'd seen demolished, another for abandoned ones (the long-defunct Lost St. Louis I & II pages), and a third for the Continental Building. Inspired by the "sequential tour" format of the Fabulous Ruins of Detroit site, I revamped, unified, and expanded all these in early 2000, bringing the site more or less into its current format.

    Having started the project, I've been unable to let it drop, even after moving away from St. Louis. A combination of nostalgia, anal-retentiveness, moral outrage, sense of duty, and love for the city keeps me going. I drop by St. Louis whenever I have an excuse to do so -- whether driving back home to Louisiana or visiting friends who are in town. That wasn't very often when I was in Philadelphia, but I've been back many times since moving to Milwaukee (a scant 6 hours up the road) in August 2000.

  15. So are you ever moving back here?

    Not right now! There's still a lot of other places I might want to live, too: New York, Boston, San Francisco, the list goes on. I'd love to back to Philly, too. But, St. Louis has a ton of raw material for renovation and preservation, which are two big interests of mine. So, who knows... maybe someday.

Back to Built St. Louis