Monday, January 7, 2019

Cruising in a new location

We chose to live right in the middle of downtown St. Louis during our cruising hiatus for several reasons. We wanted a very small space to live in, boat-sized to be exact, so that we wouldn't accumulate stuff that would have to be dealt with when we go back to a boat. We also are so used to the simplicity of small-space living that we had no interest in spaces too large. Suburbia didn't interest us at all. The community-centered cruising life left us with no desire to live in the highly insulated life of St. Louis suburbs, o. We were used to interacting with people, and used to being able to walk to most of what we needed. Then there was also the idea of trying something new that we've never done when living here before. We'd lived in the city limits before when we lived in the Central West End condo, but it was on the outskirts. We've never actually lived right smack dab in the middle of a metropolitan city. On top of all of those reasons, I desperately needed to see the horizon, something that you couldn't do from any suburban house in the area. We found our place on the tenth floor in a high rise building about 15 blocks from the river, western exposure and sunsets included.

Yesterday was one of those unusual winter days in St. Louis - warm, sunny, and almost no wind. Just like we did when anchoring in a new place for us on Kintala, we took advantage of the weather to explore our new cruising grounds. As Tim said in his previous post, we started out by strolling the 15 blocks down to the river and the Gateway Arch, passing many other city parks that line Market Street along the way. On the way back, and via a coffee shop, we stopped by the Central Library, which is happily only two blocks from our apartment. One of the other advantages of living in a major metropolitan area is beautiful, old architectural structures. The library is one of those. We signed up for library cards and took to exploring what will surely be a place we spend many hours in.

The library was renovated right around the time we were casting off the docklines to go cruising, and we hadn't been there since. It's three floors of amazing collections of books, magazines, rare documents, visiting art exhibits, computer rooms and even a cafe. All technologically modern, housed in an architectural feat.

On the way up the split grand staircase there are a pair of beautiful stained glass windows. The staircase is a marble affair, cool to the touch, and I imagine the whole building would be a good respite from St. Louis summer heat. The staircase takes you to the third floor where the rare documents section is. After asking what the oldest manuscript they had there was, we were told it was cuneiform clay tablets from Mesopetamia. Most things in this section are locked behind a door to a temperature controlled room, but they are still available for public viewing with an appoinment.

We had to take a tour of the children's and teen's sections so we would be prepared for visits from grandkids. The sections are huge and filled with all sorts of books, games, puzzles, and fun but comfortable furniture for reading. They run a children's story hour weekly and once a month they do a theater production in the basement ampitheater for free. The teen section was as big as most libraries. Several of my grandkids would go nuts in there - long story series abound as well as walls of audio books and DVDs. 

The pièce de résistance, though, was a creative experience lab. They have a room with four pods equipped with very high-end computers and large 42" wall-mounted monitors. The computers are complete with every creativity program possible for digital project creation and editing - Photoshop, Indesign, music creation - you name it. You can begin a project there and take it to completion, or you can bring your project in and polish it off. It's good for both professionals and novices and they make a host of tutorials available for anyone that needs help. In one corner of the room is an enclosed music recording studio that you can reserve. It's an amazing resource, and it's all free.

The library was built beginning in 1901 with a substantial donation from Andrew Carnegie and a collection of  1,500 books. Today it houses over 4 million items in 16 branches. All through the library are displays of the original construction and the rehab of 2012. I'm sure if you spent a lot of time there, the stunning detail in the architecture would fade to the background, but for the time being I was pretty satisfied to just walk around and look. Everywhere you go there are painted ceilings, carved wood and stone, and embellishments of the sort that no one can afford to use when building these days. It's a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. Maybe not quite as good as turquoise water lapping crystalline beaches, but when it comes to man-made structures I'm pretty satisfied to have this five minutes from my apartment.

No comments: