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Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 1:14 AM
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DSky's Midwest Road Trip

In early June I went to my sister's in Chicago for the birth of my third nephew. After staying there a few days, I decided to, somewhat spontaneously, spend about a week roaming around the Midwest.

Day 1

I spent the day walking around downtown Chicago. I'm usually in Chicago several times a year and have gotten bored with a lot of the more touristy areas, but a trip to Chicago really isn't complete without some downtown wandering.



































And then I briefly went to Chinatown for dinner before heading back to my sister's









Day 2

Originally, I had planned to go to Aurora on this day. It was raining but I decided to drive out there anyway in hopes it would stop. Once I got to West Chicago I gave up and decided to find something indoors that I hadn't done before. I stumbled across the International Museum of Surgical Science, which is apparently the only museum of its kind in North America. I really don't have an interest in the medical field, but there were enough things there to hold my attention.

The museum is located in a 1917 mansion on Lake Shore Drive and houses a lot of macabre but interesting historical artifacts.




One of the more photogenic areas in the museum is the Hall of Immortals, which features large statues of the some of the most important historical figures in the medical field.


Ancient Mayan skulls showing holes from trepanning



When I was done at the museum the rain had stopped temporarily, so I took walk around the area









Day 3

My nephew was born on this day so I didn't have too much time to poke around. I decided to go out to Whihala Beach in Whiting, Indiana, to take some photos of Chicago's skyline



And then I briefly walked around the downtown area





Due to Covid restrictions, I still wasn't able to go to the hospital when I had finished walking around Whiting. I hadn't been to Evanston in a few years so I went up there.











Day 4

This is when the spontaneity came into play. Originally I had planned to go home on day 5, but on the morning of day 4 I decided to go to St. Louis. I booked the hotel room and made the drive within a few hours of making the decision.

On the way there I stopped in Springfield, Illinois' capital. Abraham Lincoln lived here right before becoming president and he's also buried here, so, as expected, everything was pretty Lincoln-oriented. This was my first time here and I only briefly stopped, but I think Springfield is worth a longer future visit.


Springfield Union Station, currently part of Lincoln's museum and library complex








This was Illinois' state capitol from 1840-1876. Lincoln and Obama both announced their presidential candidacy here.










Current state capitol building










This building, built in 1841, housed Lincoln's law office from 1843 until about 1851




Lincoln lived here from 1844-1861, when he moved into the White House. Today his house, and several others on the street, are a historical museum. Of course the interiors were closed due to Covid during my visit, but I'm glad I got to walk around outside


I stopped by Lincoln Tomb, where Abraham, his wife Mary Todd and three of his four sons are buried. You needed a reservation to go in, so I took a few photos from the car instead

Then I headed to St. Louis












I stayed at the new Hotel Indigo Downtown, located in a 111 year old building. It seemed like the rooms all had bay windows, which was a cool feature






























We'll go up here in a few days







To be continued...
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Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 2:37 AM
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Wonderful pictures. Looks like you may have walked right by my place (or, at most a block away).
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Old Posted Sep 14, 2021, 12:10 PM
MplsTodd MplsTodd is offline
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Nice collection of photos. I especially like your shot of The Aqua facade.
I’ve been through Springfield and second your recommendation on checking it out. The Lincoln Museum/Library is definitely worthwhile. But somehow, I’d never seen their train Station before. That station is a gem!
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Old Posted Sep 16, 2021, 2:23 AM
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Nice pictures so far!

I wonder if I'm the first person in here to notice the crow on Aqua.

Nice to see Springfield! It has more highrises than I figured, but I'm not surprised to see they are mainly from the 1970s or around then. The rest of the town looks like I figured it would.
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Old Posted Sep 16, 2021, 3:19 PM
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Wow, St Louis has such wonderful bones. I would love and hope to see more energy injected back into its downtown
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Old Posted Sep 16, 2021, 4:17 PM
Rooted Arborial Rooted Arborial is offline
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Beautiful.

I really love it when someone can show me something of that which I thought I knew and leave me feeling pleasantly awakened.

All of these images were very enjoyable, but I was especially impressed with how you made Springfield look much more interesting than any of

my memories of my visits there.

You gave me hope!
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Old Posted Sep 16, 2021, 10:58 PM
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Thanks all!

Day 5

I spent most of the day wandering downtown St. Louis. There's so much potential down here.


This is the hotel I stayed at
















These are the windows at the Arch's observation deck














St. Louis Union Station






Hotel inside Union Station's old train shed

































Then I headed to the Grand Center Arts District. I really enjoyed this area. It seems well preserved and had a few of the best looking buildings I saw in StL










St. Louis Masonic Temple. Such a cool building





























Next I went to Central West End, mainly to check out the new One Hundred tower. I underestimated how photogenic this neighborhood would be and regret not spending more time there. I'm sure I'll be back in the future.















Then I went to check out Clayton and University City.







































Then I went back to St. Louis where I checked out Laclede's Landing before heading back to the hotel.

























Day 6

First thing I did on this day was take a drive through East St. Louis, across the Mississippi from St. Louis in Illinois

















Near the river in Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park is a observation deck called the Mississippi River Overlook which has great views of downtown StL





My goal on this day was to check out Cairo, Illinois.
Cairo has been plagued by racial unrest, economic decline and flooding for decades and is often referred to as a modern day ghost town. The population peaked at 15,203 in the 1920 census and is currently about 2,000.





On the way to Cairo I first stopped in the rural community of Perryville, Missouri, to get food and then decided to visit their downtown area





Then I stopped in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, a little city on the Mississippi































After crossing the Mississippi in Cape Girardeau I came across a sign for a scenic overlook in the town of Thebes, Illinois, where some guy was burning brush along the river







It seemed like the town was originally along the river but had mostly moved up onto the bluff, leaving a lot of vacant land and unmaintained streets near the river









When I got to Cairo I first went downtown, the majority of which has been demolished.


The grass here used to be filled with downtown buildings










A lot of the terrazzo flooring remained at the former entrances to storefronts







Taking a peek inside the Gem















Historic flood levels on the town's levee













Then I headed back to the StL area. With plenty of daylight left I stopped at Cahokia Mounds. Hundreds of years ago this was the largest native settlement north of Mesoamerica. Cahokia is an Illinois state park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its history is fascinating and I highly recommend you visit if you're ever in the area.



This is referred to as Monks Mound, though we don't actually know what it was called historically because the Mississippian people who lived here didn't have a written language. Its the largest earthen mound in North America.


This is just the first set of stairs. It really doesn't translate in photos how massive this thing is.


When I got to the top there was a girl sitting there holding a gecko, pretty much the last thing I was expecting to see, lol. She said she couldn't leave it in the car because it was too hot.


There's a couple other mounds before the tree line here. Cahokia historically included 120 mounds total. Only about 80 still remain inside the park.

Monks Mound included some nice views of nearby skylines




Downtown Clayton

The park also includes a museum with artifacts found at the site


The residents of Cahokia were known to trade with other groups as far away as the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast. These shells are obviously not local.








Scale model of Monks Mound

To be continued...

Last edited by DetroitSky; Sep 17, 2021 at 5:02 AM.
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Old Posted Sep 18, 2021, 1:14 PM
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nice, you were within a few blocks of me at the university city lions, the vaguely mesopotamian city gates (complete with a ziggurat standing by)

cape girardeau is an underrated old river/college town to be sure. ste genevieve is worth a stop as well.
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Old Posted Sep 18, 2021, 1:47 PM
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Fantastic tour! St. Louis has so much to see. I remember stopping there for a few days about 15 years ago. We actually stayed at the Union Station. I was incredibly impressed walking down Washington Avenue passing block after block of old lofts and warehouses converted into apartments and condos. I also liked how their LRT system linked the whole swath of districts and nodes across the central part of the city linking downtown to Grand Avenue/St Louis University then to the Central West End then to Forest Park/DelMar Loop then to Clayton.
Never been to Cairo, but hope to visit before it disappears.
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Old Posted Sep 18, 2021, 5:18 PM
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DSky: Thanks so much for posting photos of your midwest roadtrip I've been following these cities and towns for a while East St Louis theater still standing Thanks again for all the photos.
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Old Posted Sep 20, 2021, 2:37 AM
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Nice pictures again! St. Louis has some good buildings!

East St. Louis has some good buildings as well, and some much taller than I would've expected. I knew it was bombed out, but figured it was all lowrise commercial buildings and houses, more like Gary.

Interesting with the floors intact in Cairo.

This is a question for anyone: are there places along the Mississippi River where the riverbank is completely natural? So no levee, and no concrete embankment, and no stones to prevent erosion? The Mississippi and Ohio Rivers seem to be cultivated and channeled just about everywhere.
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Old Posted Sep 20, 2021, 3:26 AM
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great thread here. and especially nice to see a few pics of cape girardeau. my grandmother lived there for a bit when she was young and i wondered about that place.
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Old Posted Sep 20, 2021, 4:05 PM
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Great photos! Thanks for the tour.
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Old Posted Sep 20, 2021, 4:17 PM
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awesome tour of some well off the beaten track places.

i especially liked the cahokia stuff. it's perhaps the nation's least known/least celebrated major cultural landmark.



Quote:
Originally Posted by xzmattzx View Post
East St. Louis has some good buildings as well, and some much taller than I would've expected. I knew it was bombed out, but figured it was all lowrise commercial buildings and houses, more like Gary.
gary has a smattering of some older taller commercial buildings left as well.

it's really not all that much different than what's still left in downtown ESL.


downtown gary: https://www.google.com/maps/@41.6069.../data=!3m1!1e3

downtown ESL: https://www.google.com/maps/@38.6270.../data=!3m1!1e3
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Old Posted Sep 20, 2021, 4:19 PM
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I liked this building best in the set...perfect proportions.

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Old Posted Sep 20, 2021, 7:04 PM
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Beautiful pics! And congrats on the new addition to the family.
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Old Posted Sep 21, 2021, 1:25 AM
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Thanks guys!

Day 7

This was my last day in St. Louis. I had scheduled my trip up the arch on this morning though, so I walked around downtown before heading to the arch's museum.













Before going up to the arch they have you visit a history museum thats actually underneath the arch's grounds. It features exhibits on St. Louis as well as the arch itself.

Several proposals for the project:












Model showing what the area looked like before the construction Gateway Arch Park


Model of the trams used to get to the observation deck


Due to Covid they had a limited amount of people allowed to the observatory at a time. Because of that I got my own tram. I feel bad for the families of 4 that were crammed into these things. They're really cramped.

We were only given 10 minutes at the top and were assigned 2 windows per person/family. It wasn't nearly enough time, and I was disappointed I couldn't check out other windows, but what are ya gonna do.






Downtown Clayton






Downtown East St. Louis



Then I was off to Indianapolis. First stop after crossing back into Illinois was Vandalia, which was the state capital from 1819-1839, when the capital moved to Springfield.








The former state capitol building is now referred to as the Vandalia State House. Built in 1836, it was Illinois' fourth capitol building.





Then I stopped in Casey, a small town known for having several "world's largest" objects. It definitely seems like this has succeeded in bringing tourists and new investment into town. There were still some blighted properties but there also seemed to be a lot of redevelopments and the sidewalks were more active than you'd expect from a town this size.






World's largest mailbox


View from the top


World's largest wind chime




World's largest rocking chair

Next I stopped in Terre Haute, Indiana, 5 miles from the border with Illinois. It has a population of about 60,000.

























I arrived in Indy pretty late and I was exhausted so I decided to save the exploration for tomorrow.



Day 8

I really only stayed downtown during this visit. If you want to see a more in-depth look at the area, I suggest MplsTodd's recent thread.


View from my hotel room








Union Station
















































Indiana State House












Central Canal





















































































Day 9

Sadly I had to go home this day.

My first stop on the way was Anderson, which looked about the same as it did when I was last here a decade ago. It has good bones but could use some reinvestment.



















Then I stopped in Marion, a small city of about 30,000 in northeast Indiana.


Former hotel turned government complex













Next I stopped in Fort Wayne, Indiana's second largest city



































And my final stop before home was Defiance, Ohio, population 17,000.











Then I was back home in the D

















Thanks for sticking around!
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Old Posted Sep 23, 2021, 1:43 AM
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Nice pictures to wrap it up! I wish I had 9 days to drive halfway across the country and explore 10-12 cities and towns like that. I can cram in a lot of sightseeing in 5 days, but I can't get more time off than that.

Indianapolis seems surprisingly cosmopolitan. I think the perception around the US, such as here on the East Coast, is that it's sleepy ol' Indiana. But it looks like a cool city to visit for a weekend.

Some day I want to drive to Detroit and explore it. My family has a cottage on Lake Erie over next to Buffalo on the Canadian side, so driving across Ontario to Michigan could be an overnighter or even a long day trip. But I also have other plans long term, like driving to Lake Huron, or driving from Delaware to Montreal for a couple days, or exploring North Carolina for a day or two from here.
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Old Posted Sep 23, 2021, 2:28 AM
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Loved the tour! I especially liked your second to last photo of Woodward Blvd in Detroit— just a great urban scene. Makes me really want to walk down that street and explore the city.
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Old Posted Sep 25, 2021, 12:12 AM
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I was recently in St. Louis, and I have to say, it's definitely one of the weirdest cities in the Midwest. I loved the Central West End, but downtown felt pretty dead even compared to other rust belt downtowns, and while the brick vernacular homes of the city are very nice, I wasn't too impressed with the vibrancy (or lack thereof) of commercial streets outside of the central spine of the city leading to Forest Park. There's certainly a ton of potential in that city, though and I hope they can turn things around further.
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