Bounded by Market, Chestnut, 8th & 10th Streets
Downtown St. Louis, MO
The new City Garden is supposed to open in time for the July 2009 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium, and after taking a walk around it on a glorious spring afternoon, looks like they can make that deadline. The western block looks basically complete and has a unique feeling about it. Most of the construction is now in the eastern block, with Pinocchio (above) waiting to be wheeled into his permanent spot.
Previously, I paid little attention to this project because I agree with everything in this Eco Absence piece. Why our City Fathers continued to stick to a bad plan begun decades ago is mystifying, especially as the parts of downtown they didn’t tear down were surging back to life. Did they ever contemplate just changing their minds and putting all this land to productive use, like putting buildings back on it?
I felt the same way about the Old Post Office Plaza: why is this even happening in the first place?! And then I experienced the place on a warm, spring evening, all lit up and vibrantly peaceful, and it felt glorious, which made me contemplate What Is vs. The Way it Should Be.
What happened to both the Gateway Mall and the Old Post Office square stubbornly eschewed logic and dispelled the vision needed for an equitable and democratic use of these important blocks. It still smarts, hard. But it’s done and we have no choice but to move on and hope the people in charge don’t mess it up even more. In the case of Old Post Office Plaza, it’s an endearing balm for the old wound, and accepted on the terms of “What Is,” it’s truly great.
Maybe the same will happen with Sculpture Garden? Along with the fine attention to materials and details, I noticed that the new landscape and sculptures were able to alleviate the sting of some of St. Louis’ most soul-sucking post-modern corporate crapitecture. Wonderous shapes distracted me from the mess that is the south side of Market Street. As the trees get taller it will be possible – by standing just so or sitting right here – to completely block out those nightmares for just a minute or three.
This garden feels like a giant bouquet of flowers to apologize for the horrible things “They” have done to our downtown. For the sake of moving on, it is often wise to graciously accept the apology and admire both the thought and the beautiful flowers.