Last week I honored my invitation to speak at an annual convention of fellow engineers. This annual festivity was being held at the Union Station Hotel in downtown St. Louis.
I am now at an irritating point in my life when I awaken at 5:00 am, regardless of when I went to sleep or what time zone I’m in. Opting to make the most of my being awake, I decided to take a walk prior to breakfast and departing for a tour of Old US 66 (more on that in a separate article).
This Mitsubishi 3000GT was parked well away from anyone else in the hotel’s parking lot. It was simply aching to have its picture taken.
The curving roof in the background is Union Station – let’s head over that way.
What’s a train station without a few trains? Well, Union Station doesn’t have anywhere near the train activity it once had but trains are the prime theme found throughout. With an actual train, few things beat having a passenger car labeled “Silver Chalet”.
Or, since silver is so typical on cars these days, how about something in blue that says “Southern Hospitality”?
This engine and the two passenger cars aren’t even scratching the surface of the display. While some were on static display, I didn’t appear all of them were. Quite a few had lights burning inside with several of those having ventilation units operating; perhaps they were part of the hotel. I was able to walk up and down the aisles where these were and it was a wonderful thing to see on an early, humid morning.
Union Station itself has quite a long, varied history. After a period of decline it is on a definite upswing. To the left of this picture is a Landry’s Seafood restaurant and to my right was a Hard Rock Cafe. Both of these chain establishments are much choosier in their locations than is McDonald’s, so it appears they have identified Union Station’s potential.
Here’s a different perspective from the bridge seen in the picture above this. To borrow an adjective used by two of our presidential candidates, this place is “Yuuuge!”
While a lot of this development is finished, there is still more to go. Prior to Union Station becoming a hotel, it had been a shopping mall for a number of years. There is still some of the mall-ness to eradicate, but this place is simply so large it’s easy for a person to stay here and never notice this relic of a previous life that can be found from an overlook in the rear of the lobby (behind the 200′ bar with more beverage varieties than one can count).
Let’s keep going; there is a real surprise to be found. So why don’t we head east on Market Street toward the Arch? And, yes, I recently used Market Street as a setting for one of my “The Passenger” action/adventure installments.
My goodness! An Impala in fleet service. I will give this old girl credit; she’s a 2005 model at the newest and going for at least 11 years in St. Louis is no easy feat.
It reminded me of an investigative report I read in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper in the late 1990’s. Apparently some repair shop was gouging the city as it was found a city owned 1994 Chevrolet Caprice was getting a profoundly expensive brake job with every oil change and a transmission repair with every second or third oil change. GM has certainly had a few challenges along the way, but they were never that bad.
Also owned by the city is this tan Ford Taurus. These were comfortable cars but the one I owned left a rather sour taste in my mouth.
Both of these were sitting in front of City Hall. The adjective I used for Union Station could be used here, also.
Proving that the City of St. Louis does not have any preferential treatment toward domestic auto manufacturers, here’s a Dodge Neon they own. It was parked down the street.
Sitting by the curb was another tan Taurus, but this one appeared to be privately owned. It’s also sitting behind its sister, a Mercury Sable. Seeing this combination together doesn’t happen very often these days.
With having seen three city vehicles so far, let’s go for a fourth. Remember, this is 7 am; the daily activity didn’t get started until around 7:30.
I would love to know some of the stories this old paddy-wagon could tell. Thinking about the unsavory characters who have been granted a ride in this rig, maybe I wouldn’t.
This Chevrolet van was manufactured in Wentzville, about thirty miles west of where it sits.
It’s time to head back toward Union Station; I hadn’t yet eaten and I was growing rather hungry. The grand find was about to stick its head out in the open.
Approaching the post office, I see a black SUV. Can it be? Yes, it is indeed a GMC Typhoon.
Just under 4,700 of these were built in 1992 and 1993 combined. Powered by a 280 horsepower turbocharged 4.3 liter V6 continuously powering all four wheels, these accelerated to 60 miles per hour in 5.7 seconds; Car & Driver compared the similar, pickup based Syclone to a Ferrari 348ts.
This one is obviously a driver and these were only pictures I could manage before it rapidly disappeared.
And as our walk is over, it’s time for me to disappear. Hopefully you enjoyed this walk as much as I did.