It is a testament to local writer Robert Sharoff that I hardly recognize the city where I was born and raised in his new book, St. Louis Architecture, Three Centuries of Classic Design (The Images Publishing Group, $39.95). Part of the American City series, this lush coffee table book celebrates the river city’s rich, largely Beaux Arts, architectural heritage (but also acknowledging the modern, such as Tadao Ando’s Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts).
For every famous structure (The Arch, The Jewel Box, Eads Bridge, Fox Theater, and Union Station, shown above) there are obscure finds, such as the intake tower at the Chain of Rocks Bridge (though I’m not sure I would have chosen that for the cover shot), the Roberts, Johnson & Rand Shoe Company Building, or Bee Hat Building. How did I not know that one of three mausoleums Louis Sullivan designed (the other two are in Chicago) is in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St Louis? An image of the rarely photographed interior of the tomb is stunning (and left me wondering if it was ever open for tours). Sharoff and photographer William Zbaren seem to have fallen in love with St. Louis. I hope that city leaders, who have been slow to transform the town’s downtown into a living, thriving entity, get the message.