In Like an Idiot
Update: couldn't even keep the month straight on this post in the original - it's now corrected.
Digby reminds us that Orcinus needs some yummy herring - now how hard is that? Quarter of a pizza, at most....and you get award-winning essays!
Michael Bérubé has a marvellous post on a recent visit to St. Louis. It's been years since I was there for a Thanksgiving weekend (down from Chicago), but it sounds like the same combination of wonder and dismay, and his commenters appear to back that up.
My crew was visiting a friend who had just started teaching at Wash U, but we were given a thorough tour, certainly enough to recognize that here was the meeting of North and South, East and West. You could see it in the architecture, smell and taste it in the public market, despair where the center had not held. I thought that Chicago might have retained something of that earlier character if it hadn't burned (my own neighborhoods - Hyde Park and Woodlawn, were suburbs in 1892, more than 20 years later, so they don't count). But MB notes that St. Louis was already more established, and richer, when the Water Tower was young and licked by flames. Has there been a comparative history of the two cities' development? I'd sure like to see one.
A branch of my own family comes from within the orbit of St. Louis - it just didn't hold them. My great-great aunt ran off to Chicago, and then to Hollywood, where she was a seamstress at MGM (to Crawford, among others, I am told). My grandmother shipped out to Idaho. What happened after that World's Fair? The chateaux, the castles, the Tudor manses are still there, facing the old Fairgrounds park - amazing follies, and tributes to aspiration and wealth, but the engine that made them left, too.
These places nourish us as a nation - MB shows us some stars - shouldn't we pay more attention to our losses, and regret them more?