10 Things I Learned in St. Louis

  1. If you lived in St. Louis, you’d be called a Saint Louisan (rhymes with Norman Jewison). If I lived in St. Louis, I would insist on being called a Saint Louisian (rhymes with Parisian). Microsoft Word’s spell-check recognizes neither.
  2. The Gateway Arch: inspirational beyond all expectations. 45 years after its completion, the 630-foot structure still looks otherworldly as it soars over the city, gleaming in the sun by day, illuminated from beneath at night. The elevator pods you can ride up to the top are the epitome of ‘60s cool.
  3. Some St. Louisans I met referred to their hometown as America’s easternmost western city, southernmost northern city, westernmost eastern city and northernmost southern city, all at the same time. That made me go “hunh?” at first, but it made perfect sense the more I saw. It’s been the crossroads of America since Lewis & Clark set out from here to explore the Northwest.
  4. Were it not for slavery in the 19th century, St. Louis might have had the prominence of Chicago as a transit hub. Despite its more central location and better weather, Missouri was a slave state, and northern business interests did not want to risk finding themselves in another country if the Confederacy had won the Civil War.

    Beer tasting after the tour at the Anheuser-Busch brewery.

  5. In 1876, Eberhardt Anheuser, a German immigrant to St. Louis, teamed up with his son-in-law Adolphus Busch, to make a beer for popular tastes and that could be distributed widely, whereas most beers were local at that time. Today, their company has a 48.9% domestic market share, even if it’s now a subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch Inbev and headquartered in Belgium.
  6. Signature St. Louis foods to eat with that beer include crispy, thin-crust pizza, ultra-rich vanilla frozen custard with probably a thousand different possible combinations of mix-ins, “toasted” ravioli, which are actually breaded and fried, and barbecued ribs.

Pizza at Guido’s in the Hill neighborhood, sliced into squares and not wedges!

The neon sign at Ted Drewes has been beckoning customers since the days of Route 66.

Barbecued pork ribs at Pappy’s Smokehouse, with smoked brisket, green beans and deep-fried corn-on-the-cob.

7. Although the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team plays at Busch Stadium, there is no direct line from the Anheuser-Busch plant, a few miles away, to the stadium’s taps.

8.Like Chicago, St. Louis has a loop. In Chicago, the Loop is the downtown business district, encircled by elevated train lines. In St. Louis, it’s the Delmar Loop, so called because that’s where streetcars used to turn around at the end of their route on Delmar Boulevard. Nowadays, the Delmar Loop is one of America’s 10 greatest streets, certified by the American Planning Association.

9. Famous St. Louisans: Maya Angelou, Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, Phyllis Diller, Charles Eames, John Goodman, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Masters & Johnson, Tina Turner & Tennessee Williams. All of them – and many more – have stars on the St. Louis Walk of Fame on the Delmar Loop.

10. There’s lots of live music, from famous blues to backyard jams. However, unlike in Chicago and on the coasts, people can still smoke inside bars in St. Louis, effectively keeping people from those places out. Good thing or bad thing? You decide.