I’ve been downtown all day now, impressed with the architecture and pleased by the hospitality. There’s a lot here, and St. Louis has a lot to offer visitors. But this city’s downtown reminds me of something. I won’t say what.
I’m practically alone when I walk the sidewalk. Around 5 p.m., a blonde lady with a shopping bag approached me and asked if I needed help. I must have looked awfully strange, walking the sidewalks and all. At 5:30, the parking garages unloaded with office workers headed home. There are lofts and condos all around downtown with signs like “Move in Today!” But a lot of local people don’t want to live downtown.
Storefronts are empty, too. About half in my district, a clean and attractive American city, have “for rent” signs. The Macy’s, a block away in the old Famous-Barr Building, was practically empty at late afternoon. A cheap interior renovation was surprising, and Marshall’s-esque.
Here I am, at a major hotel filled with tourists. The Rams play across the street, the Cardinals are within eye shot. The Arch is in walking distance. But every place our shuttle driver recommended, to eat or tour around, requires a taxi. The Cathedral, the zoo, the city’s best barbecue … not near us.
An underappreciated, undervalued city with beautiful architecture … I won’t say what this reminds me of.