Friday, June 26, 2015

Missouri History Museum

It certainly has been a wet summer here in St.Louis!  We experienced that first-hand last week-end when we drove to Farmington to help John's sister Carolyn move.  One the way down there we passed the Meramec River, which has over-flowed its banks.  We also drove over a flooded road just outside of Farmington, and shortly after  it was closed to traffic.  On Sunday we drove to Carbondale, Illinois to visit our daughter Melissa and encountered several detours on that trip because of flooded roads.  Pictured below is a road near the Chester bridge, which is a major crossing of the Mississippi River between Missouri and Illinois.
Only one good thing about the rain and overcast skies is that we get a bit of a break from temperatures which hover around 90 degrees!  On Thursday of this week we sought cooler temperatures at the Missouri History Museum, which currently has a couple of wonderful exhibits.  The first one we toured is titled "A Walk in 1875 St.Louis".  The creation of this exhibit was generated by Compton and Dry's Pictorial St.Louis, a map depicting the streets of St.Louis in 1875.  It features every single home, building street and even tree in St.Louis in accurate perspective.  Eads Bridge is shown complete with larger than life size statues which were in the plans for the bridge, but never became reality.  The map divided the city into individual 11inch x 18 inch plates that could be pieced together.  For the exhibit they were blown up to 10x 30 feet.  Sections of the town on display are the riverfront, Soulard, Lucas Place, Midtown, Fairgrounds, old North, to name but a few.  Tower Grove is pictured below.
Tower Grove has a lot of trees and open land, however, in the upper left hand corner is Shaw's home.
In addition to the city maps the exhibit displays artifacts from 1875, pictured above is the podium from the Merchant's Exchange Building.  That building held the largest indoor space in the nation, in 1876 St.Louis hosted the Democratic National Convention.  It was the first national convention held west of the Mississippi.  Also, as part of this exhibit, we read  stories of how life was in 1875.  Many  of the common people lived on the riverfront and in the Soulard area in multiple family dwellings.  They shared outhouses, there was no piped in water.  Soulard was an eclectic neighborhood with residents speaking 12 different languages.  Many homeless children wandered the street, they were called "street Arabs".  It was not unusual for a child to hold down a full-time job at the age of 13. 
One could spend hours pouring over all the information regarding how people of St.Louis lived in 1875, and it is all quite interesting, but I soon needed a break and at that time a costumed lady walked through the exhibit announcing a play which was soon to start.  She played Charlotte Cushman, an actress who stopped on tour in St.Louis at the Olympic Theater on Broadway Avenue, one of two theaters in town in 1875.
We also spent time at the museum looking at the other exhibit, titled "State of Deception The Power of Nazi Propaganda". It was equally enlightening and fascinating.  However, after 4 hours inside I was ready to step outside and into the heat of the day.  Before leaving Forest Park we stopped at the Jewel Box to enjoy the beauty of the gardens and ponds.  Many colorful water lilies are now in bloom.

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