Last Saturday morning while Anne and I were biking downtown, I snapped today’s header picture. We were at the corner of Locust and Grand in mid-town, the theatre district. We had missed the light so I had time to take this picture. It had rained the night before, hence the water. The rail is from a once buried ever resurfacing trolley line. The cobblestones are the original road surface.
If instead I had lifted the camera’s lens just a little and turned it a bit to the left you could have seen The Fabulous Fox theatre. The Fox was built in the 1920 as a silent movie hall. It was built in the so called Siamese Byzantine style. Certainly exotic when it opened, it still remains so to this day. Not infrequently better then its marquee.
If I had lifted the camera a little bit further you could have also seen Powell Hall, home of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. When we first moved to St. Louis Lenard Slatkin was our music director. He had been named director year before we arrived. I understand that he is in Detroit now. Now, just another famous former St. Louis resident. 😉
But no like a good cyclist I was watching the road. Once, all St. Louis, heck all of urban America, traveled by trolley and I’m not talking about Judy Garland’s Clang, Clang, Clang Went the Trolley. The St. Louis Car Company was a major manufacturer of railroad passenger cars and street cars. After WW2, the interstate highway system, white flight and urban sprawl the St. Louis Car Co. closed and St. Louis paved over its trolley lines.
Pavé is French for a cobblestone road. Riding the pavé requires skill and power. Some racers can seem to almost glide over the stones knowing exactly what line to take to avoid trouble. Paris–Roubaix is still a race famous for its terrible cobbles. I say cobblestone, but cobblestones are stones rounded by the flow of water. Cobblestones were replaced by quarried granite setts in the nineteenth century. Setts are roughly rectangular stones. What you see are setts. Cobblestoned and setted streets gave way finally to asphalt.
Until now that is, St. Louis is reintroducing Pavé as an alternative to speed bumps. Joe Edwards (of Blueberry Hill, Tivoli and the Pagent fame) is attempting to reintroduce a trolley from Forest Park to the Delmar Loop, so named for its trolley line status. Maybe the solution to this year’s energy crisis lies just beneath our feet?