Thursday, June 20, 2013

Downtown St. Louis, MO. Living, Playing and Visiting

Downtown St. Louis: A History, Its Attractions, and What Makes it One of the Best Areas in the City

Known as the city’s central business district, the Downtown area of St. Louis is home to dozens of tourist attractions, entertainment venues, shops, restaurants and more. It is the hub of the St. Louis metropolitan area, and is bounded by Cole Street, the river front, Chouteau Avenue, and Tucker Avenue. Not only is Downtown home to retail stores, but major companies like the Laclede Group, Stifel Nicolaus, and HOK are all located here as well.

Historically, Downtown St. Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede, who decided on that particular area due to the cliffs and river access to use for trade, transportation, and as a fur trade with the Native Americans. In 1817, with the arrival of the steamboat, the Downtown area became a crucial center of the young America’s commerce and residents were able to trade products from the Gulf of Mexico and across the country via the Mississippi River. The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought a huge building boom to Downtown St. Louis, due in part to just a lack of room for new and existing businesses to expand.

The 1970s saw many historic buildings decimated by their owners in order to put in parking lots, so many of the area’s earliest homes and buildings no longer exist due to the demand for more parking. Washington University and St. Louis University were both founded in the Downtown area; the former in 1853 and the latter in 1818. Recent history has brought redevelopment, with an estimated $4-billion being invested in the Downtown area between 1999-2006.

Downtown St. Louis has many different attractions for every tourist’s whim and fancy, including: the Ambassador Theater Building, the Arcade Building, Balmer & Weber Music House Co. Building, and the Beethoven Conservatory, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Downtown is also home to museums like the City Museum on 15th Street; America’s Center & Edward Jones Dome on Convention Plaza; the St. Louis Citygarden which is a stunning oasis in the heart of the Downtown area and features a splash plaza, a bronze statue of Pinocchio, and beautiful shade and flowering trees; the famous Gateway Arch on Riverfront; the Soulard Farmer’s Market, located at Lafayette and Seventh Streets, is a popular tourist draw and one of America’s oldest farmer’s markets that is still in existence.

Not only does Downtown have a rich history, dozens of tourist attractions, shopping and restaurants, but it’s also great for families who are on vacation, couples on holiday, and even for events like birthday trips, anniversaries, and bachelor/bachelorette parties. Start off that special birthday at upscale restaurants like 400 Olive Restaurant, Basso (a St. Louis Gastropub), Angelo’s Taverna (perfect for a family birthday party), and the Capri Restaurant located inside the Renaissance Grand Hotel. For lots of shopping, make sure to check out hundreds of shops and boutiques located in Downtown St. Louis, with stores ranging from small, upscale boutiques like Eve’s Apple Vintage (a great vintage clothing shop), to more widely known stores such as Foot Locker and Macy’s.

Downtown St. Louis’s other attractions and entertainment include art galleries like 10th Street Gallery, Art Saint Louis, and the CafĂ© Cioccolato Gallery, wonderful museums such as the historic Campbell House Museum, City Museum & World Aquarium, and Laclede’s Landing Wax Museum. Looking for something more lively? Check out Downtown’s bars and nightlife, with such notable joints as Encore Comedy & Karaoke, Hard Times Lounge, Nightclub Europe, Route 66 Brewery & Restaurant, Stardust Nightclub, and the Velvet Lounge.
Frank J. Helderle St. Louis, MO June 2013 © All Rights Reserved

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