I was “gone” from WordPress last week because I accepted an invitation from my best friend in grade school to visit her in St. Louis where we had spent our childhood. I took Amtrak from Chicago, which was a lot more relaxing than driving all the way from Michigan. The Arch may not look too spectacular from across the Mississippi, but when you’re standing next to it (or under it!) you can appreciate the greatness of architect Eero Saarinen’s marvelous creation.
And because this photo doesn’t do it justice, here’s a short video to blow you away–
Since the wait to take the tram up to the top of the arch is long, the city thoughtfully created a museum you can visit while you wait for your tram time after you pass through security. It covers the history of St. Louis from the 1050’s when local Indians created strange mounds that are still being studied, till the present day. Our scheduled tram time came before we had finished the museum, so when we returned to earth we went back and finished satisfying our curiosity.
In the evening we zipped over to the Missouri Botanical Garden, informally known as Shaw’s Garden for its founder Henry Shaw, back in 1859. The current star attraction, “Flora Borealis”, is a 1 mile walk through a multimedia light experience emphasizing the role of people and plants as partners on the planet.
But before you start your walk, you can’t help but gape at this gigantic glass sculpture at the entrance to the garden’s reception area.
Our first stop was a laser light show, but no photos allowed at that particular place. It was a combination of lasers creating colors of light in layers of fog but that doesn’t sound nearly as cool as it was.
Next up was a set of drums which anyone could tap out a rhythm on (kids loved this) and the lights would respond to the drums. There was either narration or music accompanying each presentation, and I think I liked the music better but of course the garden wanted to make its point with the voice-overs.
I wasn’t in the right position when I shot the video, so here’s a nicely dramatic shot of the Climatron behind the drums and pillars. Those are giant lily pads shaped like cake pans which are floating in the water. They can grow to several feet across.
The next stop was this light-animated tree. I have absolutely no idea how they did that. There’s a little surprise at the end of this video. Look for butterflies.
It’s kind of a no-brainer in this day of electronic gadgets to assume that everything in this next video was projected…onto a house. The house was definitely there. I could see that it was the real thing (in a world of not-so-real-things)–but the mysterious way the projection was done made it look like parts of the house disappeared then reappeared. Just a taste in this video of what it looked and sounded like.
The next day we went to the history museum which is in Forest Park. Forest Park is kind of like Central Park in New York. In fact, at 1293 acres, it’s 450 acres larger than Central Park. It opened in 1876 and includes four museums, the Muny Opera, a zoo, athletic fields, golf courses, and a skating rink. The park hosted the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair (which was the subject of the musical “Meet Me in St. Louis”) and many structures in the park were built specifically for the fair. Some still exist today, among them the building that houses the Art Museum. Side note: I have a watercolor painting of the park that my grandfather did in 1915 showing silhouettes in the distance of the leftover World’s Fair buildings. I think he was a way better painter than I am!
Because the city is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Muny Opera, the history museum is holding a year-long exhibition of the Muny’s origin and development in the park. And because we were going to a performance that night it was only fitting that we get a bit educated to appreciate it even more. Here’s a bit of information to give you an idea of its mind-bending size.
Note the emphasis on the free seats! My friend and I were taken by my mother every week in the summer to sit in the free seats and watch musicals (the Muny is not an opera company; it is musical theater). What is incredible is that they could put together an astounding professional musical every week. Most productions take weeks to rehearse and prepare costumes and sets, but the Muny has been doing this since 1917. They used to do it without even taking a day off, in one day changing sets for rehearsal after the regular performance and then putting them back in the early hours of the morning for the current performance. But it got so hectic for staff that they finally gave in and now have one dark night per week to block and rehearse.
So here you go, a little “lazy-susan” style video of the night’s crowd, waiting to experience an absolutely professional top-notch riveting production of “Gypsy”!
Next time you visit Saint Louis you have got to stop by Busch Stadium and take a few pictures.
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Only got a few blurry snaps of it from the Arch LOL! Haven’t been there since the 60’s so haven’t seen the “new” version up close. No matter where I’ve lived I’ve always rooted for the Cardinals!
I loved the size of that arch and the beautiful animated tree!