St. Louis is World Class without the NFL
The NFL owners’ approval of E. Stanley Kroenke’s long-planned gambit to move the Rams back to LA was a disappointing slap in the face of the earnest efforts of many talented people committed to our region backed by considerable financial outlay by the City of St. Louis. However, the NFL’s departure does not materially diminish the stature of our metropolitan area.
Consider a few of the amazing amenities our citizens enjoy:
St. Louis Higher Education
- UMSL, St. Louis University, Fontbonne College, Webster University, the Community College System and Washington University offer an incredible array of learning and research opportunities while injecting millions into our economy and attracting some of the world’s brightest minds.
St. Louis Museums
- The Saint Louis Art Museum and Missouri History Museum have astonishing collections that are accessible to the public without charge. The City Museum is a one of a kind gem thanks to the creative genius of the late Bob Cassilly and Gail Cassilly and generosity of many early supporters and board members. The Frank Lloyd Wright House in Ebsworth Park offers the public a unique look into a Usonian house with all of its original furnishings. The Pulitzer Foundation and Contemporary Art Museum in Grand Center offer showcase modern and contemporary art in daring settings that stretch traditional architectural boundaries. Soon the Blues Museum will open to showcase St. Louis’ contribution to that unique American art form.
St. Louis Parks
- Forest Park, home to the 1904 World’s Fair and Summer Olympics, has never looked better, thanks to $100 million in private and corporate donations that funded an overhaul by Forest Park Forever. At 1,293 acres, it is approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York. It comprises forests, playing fields, St. Louis Zoo, two of the aforementioned museums, Science Center, native prairie and wetlands and a skating rink. Access to all but the ice is free. In South City, Tower Grove Park and the Missouri Botanical Garden and numerous pocket parks throughout the city and county offer verdant spaces to contemplate and play. And let’s not forget the public riverfront park dominated by the 630 foot tall stainless steel Arch, a symbol to our heritage as gateway to the west. The National Park grounds on which the Arch rests are in the midst of an ingenious public/private restoration and expansion that will soon do justice to Eero Saarinen’s artistic genius.
St. Louis Public Libraries
- The County and City Libraries offer citizens of both loans of books, movies and music as well as access to computers and lectures by contemporary scholars and authors – all free of charge.
St. Louis Theater
- The Fabulous Fox is venue to traveling, top Broadway shows. At The Rep and Black Rep national and regional talent perform plays in intimate settings. In addition, various neighborhood theater groups entertain with local talent.
Other St. Louis Arts Organizations
- These include COCA, where children from all over our region and of various demographics mix to learn freedom of expression through visual art forms and movement taught by world renowned teachers. Not far down the street, Craft Alliance and Third Degree Glass offer classes for both students and professional artisans whose beautiful work is available for all to enjoy.
St. Louis Music
- I already mentioned the Blues Museum. Before blues came ragtime, also a St. Louis original. Numerous neighborhood bars offer tastes of the music that sprang from those roots, while the world-renowned St. Louis Symphony performs music by both old and new world composers in an acoustically and visually beautiful venue. Nearby, The Sheldon is home to all kinds of music in a more intimate and acoustically perfect atmosphere. Those who prefer the more recent offspring of St. Louis’s musical roots find a plethora of talent at the Pageant, the Peabody and the Duck Room of Blueberry Hill, where our very own father of rock and roll, Chuck Berry, has duck walked across the stage more than 200 times. Nor are opera aficionados left out. The St. Louis Opera Theatre is known as one of the world’s best. It’s no surprise that its former director, Charles MacKay, now directs the Santa Fe Opera to critical acclaim.
St. Louis Food, Wine and Booze
- From farmers markets all over town, to neighborhood restaurants and bars, to some of the world’s finest restaurants, St. Louisans partake of a cornucopia of delicacies. The variety available in a city of our size is truly remarkable and has attracted world famous chefs like Gerard Craft and Kevin Nacion and barbecue genius Mike Emerson. To complement our meals, it is fitting that we have access to the finest wines, beer and spirits the world has to offer, much of it local, thanks the early adoption and expert execution of the craft beer movement by our very own lawyer/brewer Thomas Schlafly and his business partner Dan Kopman. They helped inspire Urban Chestnut, Civil Life, Square One and others to practice the arts of fermentation and distillation.
St. Louis Sports
- We love our spectator sports and the Cardinals and Blues have obliged their fans with talented coaches and players committed to playing their hearts out season after season.
To me what is really remarkable is the incredible accessibility of these amenities. I can leave my office in Clayton on any given weekday, stop at home to change clothes, scratch my dog behind the ears, pick up my wife and 30 minutes later be seated at a world class opera, symphony, rock concert, restaurant or sports event. Because our city offers so much in a location that is central, with true four seasons of weather (much of which is most pleasant), and that is accessible by rail, two great rivers and a beautifully restored (albeit under-served) airport, I am not surprised that the New York Times lists St. Louis among its top 50 places to visit IN THE WORLD in 2016.
True, we have our issues. What major city or even small town doesn’t? Relations between blacks and whites should improve. St. Louis Counties’ 90 municipalities and the City’s twenty-eight wards are not models of efficiency. Our public school system statewide is failing our children, especially in Normandy. A noteworthy few of our police have forgotten that “protect and serve” means to put the safety of the public above their own. But the fact that we acknowledge our failings and seek solutions speaks to the character and integrity of our citizens and leaders and fills me with confidence that as good as our region is today, it will be even better tomorrow.
Whether it is ironic or telling that Stan Kroenke and the National Football League chose to move the Rams out of St. Louis I do not know. But as a consequence, I believe our score on the Class Meter just rose a few points.
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John S. Meyer, Jr. is widely recognized for guiding and resolving complex legal matters related to for-profit and non-profit companies, commercial real estate and business transactions.
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