I had the afternoon off a few days ago, and it was such a beautiful day I decided to get in my car and enjoy the weather. I grabbed my camera and made a few stops to take some photos, and ended up driving by a site that I had passed numerous times but had never checked out. I think one of the reasons that I had always passed it up is that as recently as a year ago, it appeared that there was some kind of activity still occuring there. On this day, however, it was clear that it was completely abandoned. I walked around the main building and noted the posted bankruptcy notices on the windows. They were dated July of 2006, so my belief that it was only recently abandoned seemed correct. It was apparent as I began to walk around that while it may have been abandoned recently, the complex began its decay long ago.
I am going to call this place "Terry-Tech" because it seems like it used to house one or more technology companies, and because I saw a sign with those words posted inside one of the buildings. I feel that I should not give any more specific information about it, though, because this place is still FULL of leftover crap, and I don't want it to fall into grubby little hands and disappear.
I walked around the outside taking photos and ducked through a hole in one of the fences. It would become apparent later that this was unnecessary since the other side of the complex is completely open and fence-less. The first thing was made my jaw drop was the amount of garbage/really cool and interesting stuff to look at just lying in piles everywhere. I would say that it looked like everyone just up and left one day leaving everything there, but it looked more like everyone just up and left making sure to throw all their shit around in a haphazard manner first. I could have spent the entire day just digging through all the piles of leftover stuff, some of it that seemed to be totally out of place (like the spanish-language children's books).
The interior of the buildings were even more interesting, with large open warehouse style areas, and beautiful (or, once beautiful) carpeted office areas that looked like they could've served as one of the sets for the movie Office Space.
The part of the complex that really blew my mind, though, was the storage/warehouse area that was the last area I visited. I found crap that made me jump up and down it was so exciting! There were piles of old computers and computer parts, pallets of freight still shrinkwrapped, a ton of old Converse shoes (some of which were steel-toed....I didn't know those exsisted!), and a bunch of orange twisty straws......for those of you who like to drink their cool-aid all crazy like! In a back corner, there was a large animal that almost made me crap my pants when I turned and saw it. It looked like fuzzy-material over a chicken wire frame in the shape of what I assumed was a bull, like it was being built for a parade float or something. When you're not expecting a six foot tall bull, it's enough to make you jump.
Yes, that was a huge bottle of some chemical sitting on top of a piano. Weird, right? I need to do some more research, because I have found no way to piece together all the clues of what this place was in any way that makes sense. I don't know many tech companies that manufacture pianos AND steel-toes Converse sneakers. And that, in my opinion, is what's really wrong with this country.
One of our final stops on the day of White Rabbit's most recent visit was the Gateway Community Hospital, just a short jaunt across the river into East St. Louis. Gateway Community is just one of a number of buildings in East St. Louis on my list of places to visit. When we arrived, I was slightly disappointed to see that the building was barely more than a shell. No windows survived, making the entire place open to the elements. Because of this, it was one of the most destroyed places I've ever visited, especially considering it's a relatively new building (constructed in 1940 and abandoned in 1989).
I was getting my camera and other supplies ready to venture inside when I noticed a look on White Rabbit's face that I had never seen before: Apprehension, I think it was.
"Man, I feel really stupid that I do so much crazy stuff, but going into one abandoned building in East St. Louis is what bothers me!"
I made sure to remind him that we had just LEFT the most dangerous city in the country. St. Louis, not East St. Louis, was voted the #1 most dangerous city in America by those.......by that one source that.........actually, I'm not sure who decided that. I am pretty sure, though, that they have never actually been to St. Louis. Or, if they have, they've never been to East St. Louis. It really does look like a war zone in many places, and I wouldn't dare go there at night or by myself. Or without my bo-staff.
The inside of the building wasn't that interesting, honestly. It was clear that it was a hospital, but so little remains inside other than a few relics, lots of rubble, and PILES or pigeon crap. Fortunately, Silverstreak LOVES pigeon crap. We found the old maternity ward, made our way to the roof for some pics, and I even found their Christmas decorations in a closet. I decided to spend a few minutes adding a little festive "pizzazz" to the place. No really, I didn't.
I am glad I had the chance to see this old hospital, but I don't think I'd make a return trip. Visually, it wasn't very interesting, and much of the place is all the same: empty rooms where the ceiling is now on the floor. The only way I think I'd return is if I end up doing some kind of pictoral essay on bird crap. At this time, it is not in the works.
After White Rabbit, Silverstreak, Chris and I visited the Inagural, we still had plenty of time left for some other excursions. White Rabbit had said that he really wanted to see the Eads Bridge, and I had been told by a certain individual that there was a staircase near the Landing Metrolink station that lead down to lower and older levels of the Eads Bridge. It didn't take much discussion to decide where we were going next.
The Eads Bridge was completed in 1874, and at that time was the longest arch bridge in the world at 6,442 feet. Today it carries four lanes of highway on its uppermost level, and two Metrolink tracks below. It is one of the most historic and recognizable landmarks on the St. Louis Riverfront.
We made our way to the Metro platform and waited for a moment when there were no passengers standing around so that White Rabbit and I could make our break (Silverstreak and Chris were content to wait on the platform and keep watch. Personally, I think they were making out.) While we were waiting, I had a chance to take some photos of the station, which is definately pretty cool in and of itself, being inside a bridge that is well over one hundred years old.
Finally, it was clear and White Rabbit and I jumped down onto the tracks and made a break for it. It didn't take us long to reach the staircase, if you could call it that. Behind an area roped off with caution tape, there was a small shed and an old iron stair leading down into one of the legs of the bridge. Not that I'm an expert on this stuff, but it just didn't seem structurally sound to me.
Now, don't get me wrong: I'm stupid. I'm just not that stupid. I have this thing for...I don't know...not getting dead. It was pretty clear that there were other levels below us, but we wouldn't be able to reach them at the moment.
I looked back and noticed that there were a few people on the Metrolink platform, so White Rabbit and I waited for the right moment to return. I took second to take some photos of the station and the bridge heading out over the Mississippi. White Rabbit decided that it would be a cool idea to take a photo of one of the trains as it went by. He was right, it was a cool idea!
Finally we made our break and climbed back up to the platform. There was only one older gentleman there who saw us, but man did he look confused. We blew down the steps past Chris and Siverstreak as they were getting hassled by some guy asking for money. The good thing is, when you're running, those guys don't try to stop you usually.
Yes, that's right! On a recent adventure Silverstreak, White Rabbit and I explored the hell out the main St. Louis public Library! They had all these crazy books and crap!
Our mission, and one of our current focuses, is finding out as much as we can about the many historical (and these days, somewhat forgotten / legendary) caves that abound under the streets of St. Louis. At this point, we have been able to gain access to at least three different brewery caves, but we know there are many more that are still waiting to be rediscovered.
All of us becamse obsessed with this endeavor after reading "The Lost Caves of St. Louis" by Hubert Rother (is it Hubert or Herbert? I can't remember), or as we all refer to it: "The Bible." We know that many of the caves are still out there, so it was White Rabbit's idea to see what information we could find at the local library. Unfortunately, very little. I am sad to say that the local historical records at our main city library are horribly unorganized and incomplete. What we did learn, however, was that on cold winter days, the city library is a warming shelter for many homeless persons. It made me sad to see that nearly every chair was filled by a homeless person with a magazine in front of them. I'm just glad they had somewhere warm to go where they have acesss to the current issue of Cosmo.
After leaving the library a little disappointed we headed to a certain city park where it is rumored that one of the lost caves still exsists underneath. Recently, the water mysteriously drained out of the lake in the park (into the cave below perhaps?) and a number of sinkholes opened up in random places.
We didn't find the cave, unfortunately, but Silverstreak did find the biggest damn crawdad I've ever seen on part of the dried up lake bed.
We also investigated the back yard of a gentleman who lives near the park. One day this man had been trying to clean leaves from this drain with a metal bar. At one point, he lost grip on the bar and it spent four seconds falling before clanging against a soldid rock floor somewhere far beneath. He thinks that part of the sewer pipe had rusted away and the bar fell into some kind of void. We were optimistic, but then saw the pipe he was talking about.
We didn't find the cave, but the property bears more investigation, I think. We then headed to the wreck of the WWII minesweeper Inagural, which lies about a half mile south of the arch along the St. Louis bank of the Mississippi River. The Inagural used to be a floating museaum along the St. Louis Riverfront, but tragically came loose from its moorings during the flood of 1993. It now lies on its side in shallow water just off the shore, rusted and dented in many places by passing barges. About half of the wreck lies above water today, much of it filled with rubble and other river debris.
There is talk that Robert Cassilly, owner and designer of the St. Louis City Museum, has plans to raise the ship as a piece for his in-the-works project at the old cement plant on Riverview north of St. Louis. I certainly hope that this pans out, since the Inagural is such a historical ship that should not continue to rust in the Mississippi River.
We began discussing what would be needed to get closer to the wreck for pictures. Silverstreak began throwing rocks into the river, hoping to create stepping stones to bridge the 15 foot gap between the shore and the wreck. Before he could accomplish this, however, White Rabbit had removed his shoes and was wading up to his knees in the icy Mississippi! What a madman! He eventually climbed up onto and into the Inagural, even posing for some awesome photos sitting on top of one of the remaining guns!
I didn't feel like following, because I have this thing with frostbite.....I don't know, it's weird. Instead, I climbed to the top of the nearby cement plant-looking place. From there I got some cool photos of the downtown skyline and the wreck below. Silverstreak took some pics of me from below, but he is an unreliable bastard and hasn't emailed them to me (kidding, dude).
The good news is White Rabbit didn't suffer any long term damage, but he did piss me off by taking a long time to change his pants, socks, and shoes. I don't know, something about them being cold and wet and it being 25 degress out. What a wuss.
For those of you who don't know, I actually got my start blogging about St. Louis UE on blogger.com. I eventually met White Rabbit and he was nice enough to allow me to blog on his site, and I've been doing so here since then. However, there are quite a few really cool sites on my old blog that I don't have the time or motivation to transfer here, so I want to provide a link in case some of you haven't seen them.
It was kinda neat. A week after I first started posting on blogger, the Riverfront Times (St. Louis's free artsy magazine) made me their local blog of the week because of a post I did where I watched The Exorcist in the house that the actual historical exorcism took place in the 1950s. I eventually had to remove that post because the owner of the house didn't want the attention. I don't really know where I'm going with this at this point, so I guess I'll stop and go read some Chaucer before class.
I had no idea this building even exsisted until Chris told me about it one night. It's pretty easy to see why I didn't know about it: it's just the right age/color/architecture to blend into the surrounding St. Louis neighborhood undetected.
The People's Hospital, as it eventually became called, was originally opened in 1894 as the Provident Hospital. Its name was changed to the People's Hospital in 1918, and it was famous for being one of only three hospitals in the St. Louis area at the time that would treat African-American patients (St. Mary's Infirmary was, interestingly, another one of the three).
I visited the hospital a few months ago with Shortstack. This was one of her first explorations, and I made a mental not afterward to never take a female with me to a place that I had never visited before (the tend to get freaked out easily when you can't assure them that there are absolutely no bums inside). In her defense, the place turned out to be a little eerie at times.
We entered the hospital through a crumbling hole in the foundation into the basement, and immediately saw signs that someone had been recently or still was living there. The basement had no windows (as basements usually don't), so was extremely dark...adding to the eerie quality. In one of the first rooms we visited, we found an old surgical table, complete with a mild slant leading to a drain so the blood would have somewhere to go.
I have been so far unable to find out exactly when the People's Hospital closed down for good, but it is pretty apparent that it has not been used in some time. Many of the stairwells have been reduced to slanted piles of rubble, and floors in some areas are somewhat less than solid.
Despite a few details, the building hardly represents a hospital you would see today....it just seems more like a normal building that just happened to house and treat sick people. Only the room numbers, surgical tables, and call switches alluded to its former use.
In one of the rooms we found a surgical table that was a bit different from the others: it was only about two feet long. We were really disturbed since we could see it as nothing else but a table for babies.....or I guess maybe individual body parts. Either way, freaky!
The creepiest part of the day was walking into a stairwell and smelling something pretty gross. We looked to find the source of the smell, until Shortstack finally screamed. There was a cat in the corner that was in mid stages of decomposing. We assumed that it had gotten into the building and the recent extremely cold weather had been too much for the poor thing. In a room down the hall we found a blanket where someone had been sleeping. On the blanket we found a styrofoam container with some cat food, and around that were three other dead cats (probably kittens from the size). I was sad to see this. Someone had obviously been trying to care for these cats, and had probably been driven to find somewhere warm because of the weather. There, now I have sucessfully ruined your day. You're welcome.
And yes, here is a pic:
After a little more searching, we found or way to the roof. This required walking outside onto a fire escape in the alley. This was strange, since most of the escape below the level I was standing on had crashed to the ground below. Just pieces of the frame remained. From the roof, we were given a great panoramic of the surrounding city scape. Many of the buildings near the hospital were obviously being restored. It makes me wonder what is in the works for this old building.
|<< <||> >>|