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75th Anniversary of Aloe Plaza, Carl Milles’ ‘Meeting of the Waters’

May 11, 2015 Parks 17 Comments

I’d hoped there would be a big celebration over the weekend, continuing into today, to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Aloe Plaza and ‘Meeting of the Waters’ by Swedish sculpture Carl Milles. A year ago I contacted 6th-ward Ald Christine Ingrassia, IKEA, and others about collaborating on an event. Nothing.

Carl Milles' 'Meeting of the Waters' is the focal point of Aloe Plaza
Carl Milles’ ‘Meeting of the Waters’ is the focal point of Aloe Plaza, dedicated 75 years ago today
Aloe Plaza across from Union Station cleared away "undesirable"  buildings, followed by decades more demolition creating the largely failed Gateway Mall
Aloe Plaza across from Union Station cleared away “undesirable” buildings, followed by decades more demolition creating the largely failed Gateway Mall

The Carl Milles wanted the title to be “Wedding of the Waters” but prudish attitudes didn’t think nude figures should be associated with weddings, so he agreed to change the name to “Meeting of the Waters.” Through Aloe Plaza has suffered from decades of neglect, the sculpture is still magnificent. Others agree, it was the top vote getter in yesterday’s poll:

Q: What are your two favorite public fountain/water features in the City of St. Louis? Pick two — one can be added

  1. Meeting of the Waters — Aloe Plaza 13 [25.01%]
  2. Grand Basin — Forest Park 11 [21.16%]
  3. Splash fountain — Citygarden 8 [15.38%]
  4. Lily pond — Tower Grove Park 7 [13.46%]
  5. World’s Fair Pavilion Fountain — Government Hill in Forest Park 4 [7.69%]
  6. TIE 3 [5.77%]
    1. Kiener Memorial/Runner Statue — Kiener Plaza
    2. Waterfall — Citygarden
  7. TIE  1 [1.92%]
    1. May Amphitheater Waterfall — Kiener Plaza
    2. Fountain Park fountain — Fountain Park
    3. Unsure/no answer
  8. TIE 0 [0%]
    1. Clock Tower fountain — Saint Louis University
    2. Grand & Lindell — Saint Louis University
    3. Waterfall — Old Post Office Plaza
    4. Wading pool — Tower Grove Park
    5. Circular Fountain — Benton Park
    6. Wading pool & spray — St. Louis Place Park

Two answers were added for fountains listed in the poll (Aloe Plaza & Grand Basin), they were added to the totals above. The Grand Basin nearly beat out “Meeting of the Waters”, which is understandable.

The Grand Basin, Forest Park
The Grand Basin, Forest Park

The size & proportions of the basin are very pleasing. From various angles, close up or far away it is captivating.

— Steve Patterson




Currently there are "17 comments" on this Article:

  1. JZ71 says:

    “Celebrations” take both money and staff time, for planning and execution. I’d rather see that money spent on on-going, needed maintenance, that benefits everyday citizens, instead of giving politicians another photo opportunity.

    • Once again you assume everything involves public money. I’d suggested she attempt to get the new owner of Union Station & the new Swedish retailer to go together to celebrate the work of Swedish sculpture Carl Milles.

      I do think she contacted them, but obviously they weren’t interested. Another missed opportunity….

      • JZ71 says:

        No, my point was that money from IKEA and Union Station, if it were available, would be better used funding needed maintenance, here and elsewhere, than in funding a “celebration” that would attract a relatively small number of participants, especially as (I assume) a one-time event. With the Laumeier Art Fair taking place this past weekend, it would have had some pretty stiff competition: http://laumeiersculpturepark.org/programs_events/art_fair

        • One suggestion I made a year ago was just to announce plans for improvements. A celebration could mean a press conference, food trucks, etc.

  2. guest says:

    The message here is simple: people don’t care. A 75th anniversary celebration for a sculpture? Meh. How many sculptures are there around St. Louis (hundreds?), and how many of them, save the Arch, celebrate their anniversaries? Any?

    • You’re probably right, St. Louis is very much a silver bullet/eggs in one basket kinda town. We’ll spend several years and hundreds of billions to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the last piece of the Arch being set into place while ignoring everything else.

  3. bailorg says:

    The fundamental problem is that St. Louis is an auto-centric city to the point where almost no one knows this thing is there because the only time they might catch a glimpse of it is when they’re driving right by it at 30-40 miles per hour.

    • guest says:

      Wrong. Everyone knows this is there. Everyone who’s ever been to STL Union Station at least. They may not pay a whole lot of attention to it, since most people aren’t that interested in random fountains and sculptures around town, but they know it’s there. Think about it. How many times have you visited a city, or even travelled around your own city, passed a sculpture, looked at it for a moment, then moved on? Everyone does it. All the time. The perfect example are those huge butted horse sculptures. There’s one of those in Clayton. Why? Because they’re by a famous artist. But does anyone stop to take a closer look? Will they celebrate the giant butted horses on their silver and golden anniversaries? Nah. It’s just a statue. No one cares that much.

      • JZ71 says:

        And for most locals, even the Arch fits that description . . .

      • bailorg says:

        I’m just saying that if we had significant numbers of local pedestrians in the area people would take a greater interest in public art such as this.

        I’m a lifelong St. Louisan, and I never heard one iota about this fountain/statue until I watched a documentary about the history of St. Louis that was made in the 1950’s that I watched when I was about 28.

        • guest says:

          I don’t know how anyone travelling down Market near Union Station could miss this. I remember noticing it the first time I was in St. Louis. The thing is huge, whether passing on foot, by car, or bicycle. But I guess what I’m really wondering is, why are we even talking about this? Nobody cares. It’s a neat fountain.

          • bailorg says:

            The sheer size, history, and arguably interesting story should make it more than just a neat fountain. If that’s just not your thing, then that’s ok. I just don’t think most St. Louisans nowadays have much occasion to find themselves on the hotel side of Union Station.

          • guest says:

            Debatable on both counts. If you haven’t visited the Grand Hall of Union Station lately, you’re missing out.

          • bailorg says:

            Is there something there now? My impression was that Union Station at this point was one of our area’s perpetually stalled redevelopment projects.

          • guest says:

            The hotel is under new management and they have completely repositioned the offer in the Grand Hall bar area with a spectacular laser light and sound show, running on the hour starting around 6 or 7 through about 11. The production is state of the art, world class technology. It will help restore your faith in St. Louis…even moreso if you enjoy an adult beverage along the way.

        • John R says:

          I agree we need more pedestrians in the area; with a bit of enhancements and more feet on the street Aloe Plaza could be a really nice amenity for this part of downtown. The residential conversion of the 1900 Pine building is a start, but it would be great to see a liner building fronting the park on that block as well as some infill on that seemingly endless supply of surface parking lots.

  4. John R says:

    Wasn’t there a participatory budgeting session on Aloe Plaza just recently? If so, anyone know the results?


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