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St. Louis Conceptual Tourist Guide (2010)

It is often more interesting to imagine what things could look like if history had played another turn. In 1963, Walt Disney himself had picked St. Louis as a location for a second Disneyland. A boorish remark by beer baron Gussie Busch on the night when the contract was going to be signed - making fun of Disney's refusal to serve beer on the premises - led Disney to change the course of history. It would be Orlando instead of St. Louis. We can imagine St Louis Disneyland on the riverbank next to the arch. Or perhaps Mc Donald would have built its two Golden Arches right next to it, same size?     

The first time I visited the arch was in winter during a snowstorm. There was absolutely nobody around. The next time I came there were one million people. Obviously, that was on the 4th of July, the National Independence Day. I did not know that on the 4th of July the entire Midwest gathers by the arch.     

On the other side of the Mississippi is Illinois.      

This bridge takes you right to Chicago (in about 5 hours)      

Another edifice that needs to be imagined is the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex, which is generally cited as being the world's first modern building to be demolished, initiating the end of modernity and the beginning of postmodernity (at least according to some historians). Completed in 1955 by St. Louis architect Minoru Yamasaki (and being described by the Architectural Forum in 1958 as the 'best high apartment building') it was never really inhabited. The highly mediatized dynamiting began on March 16, 1972 at 3 pm and was continued until nothing was left of the 32 towers. The misfortune would not prevent Yamazaki from building new towers; he would become famous for the design of the New York Twin Towers... Today the plot is occupied by a medical center and its parking lot. The neighborhood contains...     

...relatively nice row houses.     

The same plot seen from the roof of the City Museum.     

Desoto Park (originally Desolate Park before the local drawl transformed it)     

America's first philosophy journal, the Journal of Speculative Philosophy,was founded in this house in 1867 by the St. Louis Hegelian Women, definitely America's First Women Philosophers.     

Here, in the heart of North America, the continent's three greatest rivers come together. The Missouri and the Ohio join the Mississippi. It is an "American Confluence" of waters, cultures, and politics from west, north, and east on a journey to the south. (This is actually just a photo of the creek in front of the house).     

The food can be a little rustic.     

Sartre found that American cities suffer from a lack of parallel signification and communication between buildings. European cities protect their inhabitants from space (enemies, animals, weather), they attempt to keep the space outside. In American - especially Midwestern - cities, space comes right into the city, intersects it, and dilutes the place like a cool wind.     

Empty space creates mountain-like buildings.     

It is so hot that even the trees need ice.     

This pyramid, situated on the University of Missouri campus, was inspired by I.M. Pei's pyramid in the Paris Louvre (as written in the University brochure).     

Decorative items from the buildings by Louis Sullivan and George Grant Elmslie are stored in the City Museum. They were salvaged before the buildings were demolished. The sight of the limbs of dead buildings is rather macabre.     

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