Sunday, January 09, 2005

On Broadway

South Broadway that is. ...

Coming down the hill from Bellrieve Park, Broadway parallels the river and railroad tracks, storefronts flanking long stretches on both sides of the street. This place used to be a separate city from St. Louis, and in ways still clings to its distinctive character. Originally called Carondelot, the district's contiguous streetscape is arguably the best example of 19th-Century commercial architecture remaining in St. Louis. Ornate wrought iron balconies sag from many of the second stories of the attached buildings. Fading signs advertise mercantile enterprises dating back more than one hundred years. Suspended time hangs thick as wood smoke in the cold air outside the Commercial Southern Bank, as lunchtime customers congregate at the Riverside Diner and Wimpy's Cafe, and sleds bait buyers on the sidewalk outside Rathbone's hardware store, stirring memories in passersbys. Soon the first snow will blanket the street at dusk, muffling the distant cry of the boxcar wheels. Winter has crept into town like a slow-moving freight.