Built St. Louis > > The Industrial City

In the 19th Century, St. Louis transitioned from a frontier outpost and trading center to an industrial powerhouse. That legacy survives today in the form of numerous factories, warehouses, breweries and power plants that punctuate the city's landscape. Some are boarded up; others are crumbling. A few remain in operation; some have been converted to new uses.

They are powerful forms, immense, monolithic, impressive, chaotic and functional. They often stand in blasted landscapes, decimated areas overrun with weeds and grafitti and crumbling concrete. Some are in the heart of the city; many are on the fringes, separated from the residential neighborhoods around them by land, highways, rivers, railroads.

They were the engines which drove the city to fortune and riches; in some cases they drove themselves into bankruptcy and abandonment. As America's economy has transitioned away from manufacturing in the last fifty years, so have most of these buildings fallen into obsolescence. Here, then, is a record of them -- whether in their final days or on the verge of new life.

Click on any photo to explore that building site.

Riverfront North
A cluster of massive red brick buildings north of Laclede's Landing, including the Laclede Power Company, the Cotton Belt Railroad depot, and the demolished Belcher Sugar Refinery.

Crunden Martin Manufacturing Company
A complex of buildings on the riverfront south of downtown.

North Broadway
A long stretch of North Broadway is given over primarily to industrial and warehousing uses, interspersed with scattered houses left from the area's time as a more mixed-use neighborhood.

Riverfront Far North
The secret world opened up by the riverfront bike trail. Views of the river and the industry alongside it, as it rolls past Baden, Hall Street, Riverview, and other northern neighborhoods.

Electrical Power Plants
Three of the area's oldest power stations - Cahokia, Venice, and Union Electric.

Four enormous natural gas tanks at three sites scattered across the city.

Historic Breweries
The city's four surviving historic breweries, including the north side's Columbia / Falstaff, and the south side's Consumers / Falstaff, Lemp, and Anheuser Busch breweries.

Mississippi River Bridges
Four bridges over the Mississippi, all built in the height of the industrial era: MacArthur, McKinley, Merchants, and Chain of Rocks.

Armour / Stockyards / Hunter
Three long-abandoned facilities north of downtown East St. Louis: the Armour meatpacking plant, the National Stockyards, and the Hunter meat packing plant.

Carter Carburetor
A massive, long-abandoned factory on N. Grand Avenue.

Granite City Steel
Still-active foundaries have long been the primary economic force in this Illinois town across the river.

Sauget Industrial
The refineries of Big River Zinc and Monsanto

Army Ammunition Plant
A demolished ammunition manufacturing plant from World War II.

Carondelet Coke
The city's largest vacant parcel -- a 40 acre abandoned industrial site at the city's southern edge.