Walk and Talk: A Stroll Around Downtown St. Louis


T.S. Eliot once stated the Mississippi River had made a greater impression upon him than any other part of the world.  As one who has lived within a mile of the Mississippi for the bulk of his life, I identify with Eliot as the river has always possessed a certain magnetism.

That does temper what seems to be my thirtieth trip this year to that Mississippi River town of St. Louis.  Oh well; at least my hotel room had a good view of the Jefferson National Expansion Monument, better known as the St. Louis Arch.  Taking advantage of having two blocks of two hours and a good set of walking shoes, I strolled around a six square block area downtown to check things out.  So let’s harvest the fruits of my trusty blue camera and recap my exploring.


This Suzuki Kizashi prompted a double take upon my parking in the hotel garage.  I had never seen one and it is quite an attractive car.


Any Suzuki automobile is a rare sight, yet this one is particularly intriguing as it was a competitor to the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.  Production numbers have been tricky to locate, but I cannot imagine very many of these were sold in the U.S. given the spotty dealership network. With a 2.4 liter engine pumping out 185 horsepower, it certainly sounds as if it had potential.  Sadly, the Kizashi was only available in the U.S. from October 2009 until Suzuki’s withdrawal from the American market in 2012.


This lineup of taxi cabs is symbolic of the passage of time.  On the left is the Ford Crown Victoria, the ever less frequently seen darling of police and taxi fleets throughout the land.  Strong as an ox, durable as an anvil, and as ready to work as a rented pack mule, the Crown Victoria is under appreciated (or misunderstood) by many.

Behind the Crown Vic, the two-tone green creation is the Chevrolet Uplander.  A minivan yearning to break free of stereotypes, the Uplander really didn’t aid in GM’s minivan sales woes.  Having driven a few, these are comfortable in the drivers seat, but that’s about it.  It was also mimicked by other divisions, as we shall soon see.

The canary yellow Chrysler Pacifica is a CUV based upon the Caravan.  And, speaking of the Caravan, there is an orange one behind the Pacifica.  All variations of the Chrysler minivan from the last ten years were thick on the ground as cabs, painted every color under the rainbow.


Parked in the same spot the next day was this Uplander sibling, the Buick Terraza.  Upon taking this picture, I looked around and saw two more in taxi livery.  As this location is close to three hotels and a block from Busch Stadium, cabs were plentiful.


Right before rain cut my walk short, this Saturn Relay taxi was parked in front of my hotel.  There was at least one more Relay that was relaying passengers, in addition to the Pontiac version of this minivan I spotted blasting down 4th Street.


Getting back to the Pacifica, it was the first one I had spotted in a while.  Production of these ended after model year 2008.


Pumped up about having seen the hacked Pacifica, my second walk revealed this one parked around the corner.


This Pacifica was found a few blocks north.  So much for thinking these are starting to become more sparse.


Sometime ago, Brendan made a comment about the styling on some car, comparing it to an E350.  After some thought, I chuckled upon realizing he meant a Mercedes E350 like the one seen here.


The first thought that sprang to mind upon reading his statement was the other E-350, the one with a hyphen and where the word “styling” doesn’t really apply.  It all boils down to mindset, although both are capable of hauling a lot of fanny.


After assaulting your senses with that butt-ugly van, here’s another Mercedes to make up for it.  This is the first car I shot after leaving the hotel and it made me fairly optimistic about what else I might find in my journeys.


Despite it being a 190E (CC here), it did make me think of a white 300E Paul has written about (here).  It’s a bad cliché as this car is from Georgia, but this Mercedes is a real peach.


Sitting at the north end of my journey, this Buick LeSabre amused me greatly.  Any time a car has a rear door window held up by duct tape, the look of having been waxed with an orbital sander, and a Club anti-theft device on the steering wheel, something seems mighty inconsistent.  That said, a person cannot be blamed for wanting to protect their property.


Kia Rondo.  The name sounds like either a type of movie actress or a medical condition.


Lest you think I’m being mean to Kia, the name Kia Sedona does have a warm, inviting sound to it.  It would likely make a fine family taxi.


Parked behind the Rondo was a Volvo V50, a different hued twin to the car I had as a loaner a few months back (here).  A little bit blue and a little bit gray, the color was quite pleasing if not overly vibrant.


It was starting to get windy and clouds were blowing in from the west, so I didn’t want to get too far away from the hotel.  Facing east toward the river was this Pontiac GTO based upon the Australian Holden Monaro.  These are quite the runners; a youngster in one around here wanted to race my Galaxie sometime back (and I kept up with him better than either of us anticipated).


It was lunch time, and there were hungry people lined up to purchase a meal from this old Ford fire truck turned food truck.  It was previously seen across town here.


Desperately needing a pitstop, and aiming to loop around by the riverfront on my way back, I stopped at the old courthouse.  Operated by the National Park Service, the courthouse has seen a lot, such as the various trials of former slave Dred Scott back in the 1850s.  It now houses a museum.


Not having visited here for a number of years, I took in the exhibits.  One of them was this St. Louis automobile from around 1905.  There was very little information provided.


Another transportation-related exhibit was this 1859 Studebaker.  Rumor has it they redesigned the tongue that year and began substituting cotton seed oil for whale blubber to lubricate the bearings in the axles.


Walking toward the riverfront, I passed the studios of KMOX radio and KMOV television.  With the mild weather this year, they likely haven’t had to use this new Chevrolet Silverado to chase very many storms.


Behind the Silverado, the various bridges over I-70 were being rebuilt.  The bridges serve both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, connecting this area with the Old Cathedral and the Arch property, and are being rebuilt to enhance pedestrian mobility.  Construction traffic was brisk, as was this Volvo.  Having seen more Volvo trucks than cars while growing up, hearing the word “Volvo” often prompts to me think truck first (not unlike my initial thought about the the E350).


There generally isn’t much traffic on the street that lies between the Arch and the river, although I lucked out.  This Ford F-550 intrigued me; not only does it have a fully enclosed utility bed, it also has an aerial lift–quite an unusual combination.  This rig will be doing hard work for many years to come.  I can also see the initial purchase price for a new one pushing six figures.


Oh, I almost forgot about this Mercedes ragtop just outside the old courthouse.  It would be a great ride to cruise Route 79 north or US 61 south as both parallel the river providing an abundance of terrific views.


Lastly is this contrast.  Leaving the old courthouse after my pitstop, I spotted this buggy and the Dodge Charger with U.S. Government plates.  With St. Louis celebrating its 250th birthday this year, this area has seen a lot of buggies over time.  What a long way horsepower has come!