Archive | Brief HistoriesRSS feed for this section

3, March 2017

The Highs and Lows of Gov. James Wilkinson

Occasionally there are figures who weave in and out of history, connecting seemingly disparate people and events. It’s like when an infamous recurring character’s name pops up in the credits of a television show: You just know things are about to get messy.  

James Wilkinson was one such person. Throughout his lifetime he had been called a conspirator, drunkard, slanderer, traitor, insurgent, perjurer—and the Louisiana Territory’s first governor. Read more »

1, March 2017

66 Through St. Louis: Motel Row

When it came to getting sleep along Route 66, motel owners often managed precious little because they were too busy competing to convince travelers that they alone offered the best night’s rest. With each passing year, motorists had more money to spend and more options to choose from on the Mother Road. As a result, motel owners were constantly updating their offerings and advertisements to draw in those dollars. Gone were the days when bed linens and indoor plumbing were enough for most folks. Now people wouldn't dream of sleeping somewhere that didn’t feature a television, air conditioning, or a flashy piece of roadside neon. Read more »

17, February 2017

But for One Man . . .

Missouri owes a lot to Thomas Jefferson, who signed off on the land agreement that almost doubled the size of the United States. When we look back at history, it seems almost guaranteed that Jefferson—former governor of Virginia, U.S. ambassador to France, first Secretary of State, and second vice president—would become president at some point. But history is often messier than it seems at first glance. Read more »

9, February 2017

66 Through St. Louis: Donut Drive-In & Ted Drewes

For Route 66 fans, there's no better place on a mild spring night than Chippewa Street. On a short section near St. Louis's city limits, two Route 66 legends sit just blocks apart. Their neon signs glow in the night, calling to travelers and lighting up the neighborhood. For more than half a century, they’ve tantalized Mother Road drivers with a truly challenging question: Should I stop for custard, or should I stop for a donut? Read more »

6, February 2017

Was Budweiser Really Born the Hard Way?

With the words “Welcome to St. Louis, son,” an exhausted, visionary immigrant joins the ranks of famous Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl commercials alongside croaking frogs, “Wassup” dudes, and Clydesdale-puppy friendships. The immigrant is Adolphus Busch himself, and the commercial is a minute-long mini-drama of what it takes to leave all behind and follow your dreams. Read more »

31, January 2017

Origin Story: The Fabulous Fox

Although his name isn’t on the marquee, St. Louisans largely have Charles Howard Crane to thank for the Fox Theatre’s breathtaking architecture. Crane, a Connecticut native, certainly had a niche: He designed more than 250 movie theaters over the course of his career, including several so-called movie palaces. Read more »

20, January 2017

66 Through St. Louis: Maplewood Business District

For anyone trying to drive Route 66 through St. Louis, the path of the world’s most famous highway isn’t so clear. You could take Watson Road, known as Historic 66, but not the road’s original path. You could get on Lindbergh Boulevard, which was sometimes the main Route 66, sometimes 66 Bypass, and sometimes not a part of Route 66 at all. You could cross five Mississippi River bridges, drive on nearly a dozen major St. Louis streets, and chase various alignments—all without ever leaving the Mother Road. How can this be? In contrast to small towns where Route 66 was often the one and only “main street,” Route 66 shifted, twisted, and turned through big cities such as St. Louis. Read more »

30, December 2016

66 Through St. Louis: Chase Park Plaza

When looking at a map of Route 66 through St. Louis, it seems like half the city’s major streets carried an alignment of Route 66 at one time or another. Travelers leaving downtown St. Louis via the road's first alignment along Lindell Boulevard drove past the crowning jewels of the Central West End: the enormous Chase and Park Plaza hotels. Read more »

21, December 2016

66 Through St. Louis: City Hall

Route 66 motorists who picked the City 66 alignment of the Mother Road wound up in the heart of St. Louis. When they pulled into downtown, they were greeted by a pink and orange, spire-covered structure seemingly dropped straight out of belle époque Paris. But while they snapped pictures and read about St. Louis City Hall in their tourist brochures, they probably never realized the headache involved in getting it built! Read more »

14, December 2016

You've Come a Long Way, Barbie

One of the iconic toys examined in the exhibit TOYS of the '50s, '60s and '70s is Barbie. She first came on the scene in 1959 as a stick-legged, white-skinned, blonde-haired, blue-eyed doll with cherry red lips. Barbie represented the ultimate woman: She had the perfect body; in Ken, the perfect boyfriend; and all of the money, cars, outfits, and houses a girl could dream of. Read more »