Built St. Louis > > The St. Louis Riverfront


Summer 2001.


The St. Louis Riverfront

Though it is St. Louis's greatest natural resource, and the original reason for the city's existance, the Mississippi River largely remains a hidden world - out of sight and, more often than not, inaccessible to the public.

When the Mississippi does reveal itself, as it does for a brief stretch in the shadow of the Gateway Arch, it's not a picturesque place. The wild, tractless river that Mark Twain knew in his steamboat days are long gone, and in its place is a working river, a vast industrial highway crammed with barge tows, loading points, and industry. At the Arch, where the river is most visible to the public, commercial development has been haphazard and low budget, with no guiding plan and aethetics at the bottom of the list of concerns.

But the mighty river still fascinates. Even after a century of engineering, it remains an untamed force. Flabergasting volumes of barge traffic ply the river, carrying bulk cargos in both directions. Strange worlds of industry reveal themselves when one looks close.

This tour gathers together many years of sporadic exploration of the river's banks. Shots from bridges, overlooks, parks, paths, the Gateway Arch, and the water's edge piece together some of the vast puzzle that is the Mississippi at St. Louis.

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