We had to leave Chicago much too soon for our next destination, St. Louis. That’s what you get for pre-booking your hotels: you’re always certain the next perfect hotel is waiting for your arrival, but it does mean that sometimes you have to leave before you’re done with your destination. Still, we were looking forward to seeing St. Louis too. The Arch was our prime destination of course, what an amazing piece of engineering!
The Arch symbolizes the expansion of the US to the West and it is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. It’s 192 meters ( 630 foot) high and you can even go up in the Arch’s legs, to be amazed at the magnificent views over the city. It’s cramped going up though, as you sit in a little pod that can carry 5 people. Let me tell you, you’d better not go up in that when you’re feeling claustrophobic!
The movie showing how the Arch was constructed and made available to the public in 1965 really brought home that this was a huge undertaking. It dominated the bank of the Mississippi, a pity for us that they were re-constructing the entire area around the base of the Arch. Still, music drifted up a riverboat that was docked in the Mississippi river, music that reminded me of movies like Show Boat from way back then. It was so easy to close your eyes and imagine the way it must have been.
We saw Bush stadium, home of the Cardinals, and even though it wasn’t time for a match yet, we did get a feel for the madness that surrounds baseball in the US. A pity that we hadn’t gotten tickets for that night’s match. Not that we are fans of the sport, just to soak up the atmosphere. But we already had another appointment back at the hotel.
The Chase Park Plaza was the hotel we were staying at, a hotel that left quite an impression. It was huge and even sported a cinema with five theaters. That was the appointment we had for that night, to go and watch Star Trek Beyond again! The first time was at the midnight premier and we wanted to see it again, wide awake this time.
Anyway, the Chase Park Plaza intrigued me, mostly because of the illustrious history that was clearly visible in the huge hallway. Lots of marble, lots of brass, and huge photos of the golden days everywhere. The Chase hotel was built in 1922 by a man called Chase Ullman. His hotel manager, Sam Koplar tried to take the hotel over after working diligently to make it a famous hotel, but his offer was declined. This made him build his own hotel right next door, called the Park Plaza. However, the Great Depression didn’t pass his door either, so in the end he had to give the Park Plaza up.
It wasn’t until 1947 that Sam Koplar was able to buy back both the hotels and connect them into the Chase Park Plaza. The hotel had it’s most famous time in the 1950’s. The Chase Club hosted such big band acts as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and Jerry Lewis and their performances were broadcasted across the country. They adorned the pictures we saw in the hallway, along with illustrious people like Nixon, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Elvis Presley.
The pool area had been added to the hotel in 1956 in time for the miss America contest, which as hotel historie tells us, created quite a scandal as the sun bathing ladies could be seen from the street. What a different time that was! The pool area still looks about the same now: the ornate columns, the sculpture of a lady bathing. It seems that’s actually a priceless statue hidden from the Nazis during World War II.
This historic hotel, that has had its ups and downs over the decades, has been renovated and invigorated again in the late 90’s, making it ready for a new century. Staying here really made me feel part of history! Oh, and it was a gym too, that I was briefly a part of. Netted me 10 coins too!
Both St. Louis and Chicago are excellent places! It’s so great that you’re getting to visit so many cities! And congratulations on your gym victory!
Thank you. It was short lived, but I am glad with the 10 coins!
Hey Ms Tour Guide, great post. I bet the Chamber of Commerce for these two cities would love you!. Yes, the Arch is fascinating. I remember when it was being built. Take care and stay safe.
Haha, thanks! I should forward them the two posts! We’re driving towards Gatlinburg now!