Saturday, January 01, 2005

The Disappearing City

Much of the wrought-iron that once graced St. Louis residences can now be seen in the Big Easy's French Quarter.

Much of St. Louis' 19th-Century architecture is constructed from bricks fired at local kilns such as those that used to be located on Manchester Avenue, west of Kingshighway. The bricks were made from clay mined in the area by Italian immigrants who lived on Dago Hill, a neighborhood that still thrives today, although the first half of the name has been deleted. Another disappearing part of history are the buildings themselves, many of which are being razed throughout the city each day both legally and illegally. After the buildings are demolished, the bricks are neatly stacked on pallets and sold at a premium on the national market. The same wholesale disappearance has already occurred to most of the ornate wrought-iron balconies that once graced these residences. Many of these masterpieces forged at St. Louis' foundries can be seen today on the streets of the Vieux Carre in New Orleans.