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Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park Dedicated 10 Years Ago Today

June 18, 2015 Featured, Metro East, Parks Comments Off on Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park Dedicated 10 Years Ago Today

Today is the 10th anniversary of one of my favorite parks in the region:

On June 7th, 2005, Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis transferred title of the Gateway Geyser and the 34.1 acres of grounds, known as the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, to Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD). The Gateway Center had worked tirelessly for 40 years to protect the property from commercial development and with the transfer, was entrusting MEPRD with the task of bringing to life the dream of their founder and benefactor, Malcolm W. Martin, to transform the property into a true memorial park complementing the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and Gateway Arch directly across the Mississippi River. On June 18th, 2005, the park was officially dedicated as the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, in honor of the man whose passion, dedication and generosity made the project possible. (Metro East Parks & Recreation District)

The Gateway Geyser began operating a decade earlier, on May 27, 1995.

One of my best photos at Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park was taken at 12:51pm on December 10, 2010. The overlook, left, gives you great views across the Mississippi River.
One of my best photos at Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park was taken at 12:51pm on December 10, 2010. The overlook, left, gives you great views across the Mississippi River.
Malcolm W. Martin at the top of the overlook.
Malcolm W. Martin at the top of the overlook.
esl gateway geyser
esl gateway geyser
Hundreds gathered at Malcolm Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis IL to watch the St. Louis fireworks on July 4th, 2011
Hundreds gathered at Malcolm Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis IL to watch the St. Louis fireworks on July 4th, 2011
I introduced David to this park while we were engaged, We held our wedding here on Sunday June 8th 2014, officiated by our friend Chris Reimer.
I introduced David to this park while we were engaged, We held our wedding here on Sunday June 8th 2014, officiated by our friend Chris Reimer.

If you’ve never experienced this park I highly recommend a visit. Driving there isn’t the easiest, but there is parking once you arrive. The better way from downtown St. Louis wold be to walk or bike across the Eads Bridge. From Missouri or Illinois take MetroLink to the East Riverfront station then go south of the grain elevator.

If you can, try to catch the geyser:

April 15th through October 15th
Daily eruptions (each 10-minutes) at noon, 3PM, and 6PM
Each eruption is dependent on current wind and weather conditions.

Less than 5 years until the 25th anniversary of the geyser!

— Steve Patterson

 

Day Trip To Atlanta For First Anniversary

June 8, 2015 Featured, Metro East, Travel Comments Off on Day Trip To Atlanta For First Anniversary

Today is my wedding anniversary — my first ever.  When I finally acknowledged to myself, at age 16, that I was gay, the idea of marrying a man 30+ years later never entered my mind.  Thankfully the political & social landscape has changed a lot since then!

David and I exchanging our vows on Sunday June 8 2014, officiated by our friend Chris Reimer. The location was the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis, IL.
David and I exchanging our vows on Sunday June 8 2014, officiated by our friend Chris Reimer. The location was the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park in East St. Louis, IL  Click image for information on Reimer’s new book “Happy Work”

To celebrate we decided to visit Atlanta…Illinois, not Georgia. First we visited his family in Springfield IL, then we headed north to Atlanta. This small town on the old Route 66 was incorporated in 1853.

We had lunch at the Palm Grill Cafe, which  opened in 1934 to serve travelers on Route 66. In 1947 a bypass sent Route 66 traffic around the East edge of town. The Palm Grill closed in the late 60s.
We had lunch at the Palm Grill Cafe, which opened in 1934 to serve travelers on Route 66. In 1947 a bypass sent Route 66 traffic around the East edge of town. The Palm Grill closed in the late 60s.
It reopened in 2009, helping boost the town's sales tax revenue. People from 50+ countries have signed their guest book. Click image to see video from 4 years after reopening. 
It reopened in 2009, helping boost the town’s sales tax revenue. People from 50+ countries have signed their guest book! Click image to see video from 4 years after reopening.
This symbolizes what they've done: the new iPad-based register sits next to a vintage register.
This symbolizes what they’ve done: the new iPad-based register sits next to a vintage register.
Next door we visited the Route 66 Arcade Museum, featuring arcade games from the 1930s-1980.
Next door we visited the Route 66 Arcade Museum, featuring arcade games from the 1930s-1980.
Across the street we checked out their Route 66 Park.
Across the street we checked out their Route 66 Park.
From inside the park. No building was razed for the park, the wood shed that has been on the site since the mid 19th century remains.
From inside the park. No building was razed for the park, the wood shed that has been on the site since the mid 19th century remains.

We decided to save the tour of the wood J. H. Hawes Grain Elevator Museum and other sites for our next visit.  After Atlanta we drove 5 minutes North on the old Route 66 to the smaller town of McLean IL, incorporated 13 years later. We’d actually been to McLean before — the truck stop right off I-55 is where Megabus stops to/from Chicago.

The toen square is technically s triangle because of the design of the street grid & railroad
The toen square is technically s triangle because of the design of the street grid & railroad
A magnificent Secind Empire house near the town square.
A magnificent Secind Empire house near the town square.
These buildings face the square 00 love the corner building with the peaked clay tile roof.
These buildings face the square 00 love the corner building with the peaked clay tile roof.
Our destination was Arcadia.
Our destination was Arcadia.
This arcade features games from 1980-2000, click image for website
This arcade features games from 1980-2000, click image for website

These towns sprang up in the 19th century because of the railroad, which has me curious about how the railroads got their right-of-way. I also find the street patterns in these towns — in relation to the railroad — interesting.

The design of the original town of McLean remains almost unaltered to this day from the original plans. The design was similar to other places along the Alton and Springfield Railroad including Normal, Towanda, Odell, and Dwight. The original town was basically a square with streets aligned north-south and east-west, split diagonally by the railroad with a line of lots paralleling either side of the tracks.

As in other towns along the same railroad, there was a widened rectangular area paralleling the tracks labeled “Depot Grounds.” In the case of McLean, the Depot Grounds were laid out only on the southeast side of the railroad. The triangle of land on the northwest side, between the lots paralleling the railroad and remainder of the town, was designated as a public property and is still used as a park. The comparable triangle on the opposite side of the tracks was unlabeled and its intended use is unclear. This same arrangement of public land was followed at the town of Towanda.

Mclean was distinctive in that there were no streets between the diagonal line of lots along the tracks.Perhaps because of this, much of the business district developed along Morgan Street, which ran east-west just north of the park, or along Hamilton Street, which ran north-south, just west of the park. The line of lots paralleling the tracks and southeast of the railroad became the location of the hotel and the town jail. Later additions on the east side of the town featured additional lots which parallel the railroad as well as more conventional blocks (Wikipedia)

 Interstate 55 in this area opened in 1977, making the remaining Route 66 a by-road. We had a great day exploring Illinois, eating good food, and playing video games — a perfect way to celebrate our first anniversary!

— Steve Patterson

 

 

 

Day Trip: Staunton & Mt Olive Illinois

March 20, 2015 Featured, Metro East, Travel Comments Off on Day Trip: Staunton & Mt Olive Illinois

Two weeks ago I wrote a post called Please Enjoy The Weekend, I didn’t give the details of our planned day trip. Today I want to share with you what we did that day. We crossed into Illinois on the Eads Bridge and took state roads through Pontoon Beach, Edwardsville, and other towns on the way to our first stop.  A detour near our destination forced us onto I-55 for about a mile.

First stop: Main Street Staunton IL. We had lunch at Cavataio's Restaurant on Main & Edwardsville St, click for their website.
First stop: Main Street Staunton IL. We had lunch at Cavataio’s Restaurant on Main & Edwardsville St, click for their website. Go Bulldogs!!
Route 66
We were on Old Route 66 part of the drive from St. Louis to Staunton, at this point we turned right for our next stop.
If you've driven I-55 you've likely seem Country Classic Cars. This was my third visit since 2006, the 2nd visit for my husband.
If you’ve driven I-55 you’ve likely seem Country Classic Cars. This was my third visit since 2006, the 2nd visit for my husband.
Soulsby's Service
In nearby Mount Olive we found Soulsby’s Service, the oldest remaining Route 66 gas station building. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, click image for more information from the National Park Service.
Because of the snow I couldn't walk to the Mother Jones monument, click image for more information
Because of the snow I couldn’t walk to the Mother Jones monument, click image for more information
After the cemetery we drove down a few streets of modest homes in Mt Olive IL but then we spotted this house
After the cemetery we drove down a few streets of modest homes in Mt Olive IL but then we spotted this house

We’re going to repeat this day trip when there’s no snow or water out. As car guys looking at classic on historic Route 66 is a fun interest. We have more fun planned for this weekend!

Spring starts this afternoon at 5:45pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Please Enjoy The Weekend

March 6, 2015 Featured, Metro East 3 Comments
We're not going to Joliet IL but I liked seeing their Union Station from the train last month. Click the image to view the website on their handsome 1912 station.
We’re not going to Joliet IL but I liked seeing their Union Station from the train last month. Click the image to view the website on their handsome 1912 station.

It’s the end of the week so here’s some good news: it’ll be warmer than usual this weekend! With the cold winter weather it has been too ugly to do much outside.

Tomorrow my husband and I are taking a day trip. I’ve posted before about previous trips:

Our trip tomorrow involves driving the back roads in two counties in Illinois with stops in two small towns, to protect our privacy I’m not going to be specific ahead of time.  We’re intentionally avoiding interstate highways on the way out, we may use a highway to return.  But I might find alternate back roads.

The lunch place I have picked out is 43-45 miles away from our downtown loft, depending on which of the three back road routes we pick. Taking interstate most of the way is 42-44 miles. The two interstate routes would be faster; 41-49 minutes vs 58-61 minutes on the back roads.  It’ll be a nice day and we won’t be in a hurry, unfamiliar back roads are always more interesting than familiar interstate highways.

Please get out and make the most of this weekend!

— Steve Patterson

 

 

One Year After Opening Readers Positive Toward New Mississippi River Bridge

February 11, 2015 Downtown, Metro East, Transportation Comments Off on One Year After Opening Readers Positive Toward New Mississippi River Bridge
The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge opened, thus was seconds after Illinois Gov Quinn & Missouri Gov Nixon cut the ribbon
This was seconds after Illinois Gov Quinn & Missouri Gov Nixon cut the ribbon on The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge on 2/8/2014

In the most recent Sunday Poll the ‘Very Good’ & ‘Excellent’ outweighed the ‘Fair’ & ‘Poor’ ratings, 17 vs 8, respectively. The two negative choices barely beat out the neutral middle ‘Good’, 8 vs 6, respectively.

Q: Rate the new Mississippi River Bridge (aka The Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge) based on your overall impression:

  1. 4) Very Good 12 [33.33%]
  2. Tie 6 [16.67%]
    1. 2) Fair
    2. 3) Good
  3. 5) Excellent 5 [13.89%]
  4. Unsure/No Answer 5 [13.89%]
  5. 1) Poor 2 [5.56%]

As a residential designer for many years I can tell you no matter the wealth of the client — the size of their budget — it’s never enough to accomplish everything they desire. Missouri & Illinois started off with a very long wish list then realized their list had to get substantially shorter.  It works though, we’ve used it regularly instead of the William L. Clay Sr. Bridge (aka Polar Street Bridge/PSB).

I wasn’t able to find any information on traffic counts on the new and other bridges into downtown St. Louis, but an accident on the PSB yesterday morning caused delays:

The accident occurred around 6:15 a.m. and forced all but one lane of the roadway to close. All lanes of the roadway reopened around 6:30 a.m., but delays were ongoing. (KMOV)

I’m very curious to know how reality compares to the projections.

— Steve Patterson

 

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