About St. Louis

25 Reasons To Love St. Louis According To St. Louis Magazine

Article originally posted by STL Mag

1. Our startup and research scene continues to evolve. When it comes to tech and entrepreneurship, St. Louis punches above its weight. A lot of that stems from the region’s investment in people, as well as incubators like Cortex, TRex, and OPO Startups. Soon, the Next NGA West facility will allow St. Louis to plant a flag as a hub for geospatial research and technology. The 39 North campus in Creve Coeur is also growing as a center for agtech innovation and development, housing such industry leaders as Benson Hill, a plant-based food tech firm, which just became the latest unicorn in St. Louis’ startup scene.

2. Art is everywhere. Public art can be found all around St. Louis, from sidewalk statues and installations to building-length murals, and more is being added all the time. Muralist Andreas von Chrzanowski, also known as CASE Maclaim, recently contributed his work to the side of City Foundry STL (seen above), and “The Alton Ripple” now stretches across the intersection of State and West 3rd streets in downtown Alton. We’re particularly looking forward to the forthcoming Brickline Greenway, which will include a Damon Davis–designed art installation dedicated to the Mill Creek Valley neighborhood.

3. We support our artists. There are so many resources available to our artists. The Regional Arts Commission, The Kranzberg Arts Foundation, The Luminary, The Missouri Arts Council—the list goes on. And despite the pandemic, opportunities are still growing. KAF’s residency program, originally only open to musicians, expanded this year to include visual arts, writing, and film. The 15 artists chosen received work space, tools and training, and a cash stipend. KAF also created new infrastructure to support its residents, including larger studios, a literary center, spaces for music rehearsal, and a soundstage.

4. Innovative minds are working to solve some of our region’s most pressing challenges, and a group of volunteers brings these folks together to share their insights. We’re talking about TEDxStLouis, which hosted a pair of events in December featuring 12 St. Louisans working to answer the questions “What now?” and “What next?” Arch Grants executive director Emily Lohse-Busch spoke about the power of unreasonable generosity, while Square/Invisibly CEO Jim McKelvey shared how he was able to launch Square—even after Amazon released a similar product. The TEDxStLouis team is gearing up for more events in 2022. Count us in.

5. We’re playing a major role during the pandemic. When COVID-19 first hit St. Louis, it was unthinkable that three safe, effective vaccines would be available within a year. But it happened, thanks to Pfizer’s Chesterfield campus, which made part of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine; Washington University and Saint Louis University, which conducted clinical trials with volunteers; and the early mRNA vaccine research of our own Dr. David Curiel. We’d be remiss to forget the health care workers who have persevered throughout the pandemic. Looking ahead, BioSTL’s Center for National Pandemic Resiliency hopes to unlock the technology that can help us weather future pandemics, and nonprofit Rung for Women is focused on reskilling some of the workers hardest hit by the economic fallout of COVID-19: women.

6. “Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card.” Our city and county library systems do so much more than provide access to books. They’re hubs for youth activities (check out the new Eureka Hills branch and plans to revamp SLCL HQ in Ladue), and their author events aren’t to be missed. But perhaps most important, our libraries are constantly giving back. Local libraries provide essential services such as literacy programs, after-school meals, and internet access. To wit, this fall the St. Louis Public Library offered 4,000 hotspots to St. Louis residents who didn’t have WiFi at home.

7. Now Playing: New and recent tracks we love

• “Draw Down the Moon” –Foxing

• “The Ones We Love” –Lydia Caesar

• “MATTER OF TIME” –Mvstermind ft. Jordan Ward

• “mememe” –100 gecs

• “Just a Girl” Ryan Marquez ft. Chrissy Renick and Paige Alyssa

• “Trouble” –River Kittens

• “Space Junk” –Beth Bombara

• “Sunny Sun” –Molten Bone

• “Rotterdam” Pokey LaFarge

• “Serpiente, Pt. 2” –Tonina & David

8. Community gardens are planting seeds. St. Louis has long been known for its generosity, which over the years has manifested itself in a handful of garden outreach programs. From its beginnings as a community garden, Urban Harvest STLhas provided underserved parts of the city with healthy, garden-fresh produce for the past decade. Its 8,500-square-foot Food Roof Farm in Downtown West (the first in St. Louis) became a scalable model of urban agriculture that now grows more than 200 varieties of edible plants. The initiative has spawned other urban gardens, including the award-winning Fresh Starts (with 15 garden beds) and Sally’s Rooftop Garden & Terrace atop the .ZACK building in Grand Center. Ferguson’s EarthDance Organic Farm School not only grows organic fruits and vegetables, but also provides the necessary instruction and hands-on experience to do it yourself. EarthDance also operates a pay-what-you-can farmstand (open July through November) that provides organically grown fruits, herbs, and vegetables to the community, regardless of income.

8. Community gardens are planting seeds. St. Louis has long been known for its generosity, which over the years has manifested itself in a handful of garden outreach programs. From its beginnings as a community garden, Urban Harvest STLhas provided underserved parts of the city with healthy, garden-fresh produce for the past decade. Its 8,500-square-foot Food Roof Farm in Downtown West (the first in St. Louis) became a scalable model of urban agriculture that now grows more than 200 varieties of edible plants. The initiative has spawned other urban gardens, including the award-winning Fresh Starts (with 15 garden beds) and Sally’s Rooftop Garden & Terrace atop the .ZACK building in Grand Center. Ferguson’s EarthDance Organic Farm School not only grows organic fruits and vegetables, but also provides the necessary instruction and hands-on experience to do it yourself. EarthDance also operates a pay-what-you-can farmstand (open July through November) that provides organically grown fruits, herbs, and vegetables to the community, regardless of income.

9. We’re welcoming Afghan refugees. When the United States withdrew troops from Afghanistan in August 2021, ending a 20-year war, the world watched in horror as the country’s capital fell to the Taliban. As the U.S. carried out mass evacuations and local officials announced that St. Louis would be one of the cities to welcome refugees with Special Immigrant Visas, St. Louisans showed up. Welcome Neighbor STL organized a fundraiser for an Afghan woman who needed help fleeing the country with her three children. They asked for $4,000. Within hours, they had raised more than $9,000. Charles Mullenger, a local business owner and former Army captain who served in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom from 2012–2013, launched a GoFundMe to help The International Institute fulfill some of its needs. “I wanted to set my sights on helping the Afghan refugees who would come here, in hopes that a lot of them are the interpreters and the people who supported me and my friends over the last 20 years,” he said. He ended up raising more than $50,000 for the institute’s efforts. (The International Institute would eventually be so inundated with other donations of material items that it would have to pause drop-offs.) Across the river, St. Charles showed up, too, but for a far more somber moment. Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz was a 20-year-old Marine from O’Fallon who was killed in a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul while assisting with the evacuations. When his remains were transported from St. Louis Lambert International Airport to a funeral home in St. Charles, thousands lined Interstate 70 to pay their respects.

10. There are shiny new performing spaces. Theaters may have been mostly dark last year, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t growing. The Center of Creative Arts(COCA) expansion and the Kirkwood Performing Arts Center were both completed in 2020, and with the return of theater has come the chance to get to know these new facilities. The light-filled buildings, with their exceptional performance spaces and state-of-the-art tech capabilities, are both welcome additions to the local theater scene.

11. City Museum is still evolving at 25. St. Louis is cautious by temperament, but City Museum made us cool. When code required a fence, founding genius Bob Cassilly didn’t put up chain link; he cast a hollow serpent and drove 1,752 iron spikes into its body. Craving movement, he added caves, tunnels, and slides, one of them 10 stories high. For scale, he added a full-size bowhead whale, a giant Slinky, a 21,700-pound pencil, and a pair of briefs that he swore were “The World’s Largest Underpants.” (They now have their own fan club.) First, a school bus wound up on the roof and then a giant praying mantis. A treehouse grew indoors. Artifacts are curated because they’re inherently cool, neglected, odd. If a vintage Ferris wheel showed up in your back yard, would you take the trouble to reassemble it on your roof? City Museum’s crew earned its fame by tackling anything that promised mischief or delight, especially if it looked impractical, impossible, or utterly cost-ineffective. As a result, nothing is boring or stuffy or roped off, and the place is free of the stink of commercial greed. Cassilly demanded peashooters and slingshots for the gift shop. Today, you can buy colored shoelaces, an homage to the building’s shoe-factory history. Much here pays homage to history: a Louis Sullivan cornice, an old bank vault, vintage opera posters, aircraft fuselages… Is it any surprise that Mick Jagger visited City Museum? Or that a circus joined up? During the pandemic, people bought unused memberships just to keep the place alive. Because that’s how you feel when you go there.

12. Major attractions are opening after much anticipation. The buzz was building for years—and then the pandemic caused delays. Finally, last year, several blockbuster developments across the region came to fruition. City Foundry STL in Midtown opened its food hall, and renowned artist CASE Maclaim added an eye-catching mural near a new Fresh Thyme. In Chesterfield, at The District on the redeveloped Taubman Prestige Outlets site, The Factory concert venue began hosting big-name acts: The Roots, Buddy Guy, The Beach Boys… Likewise, after a year-long delay, Saint Louis Music Park in Maryland Heights welcomed Wilco, Jason Mraz, and Nathaniel Rateliff. And even before it officially debuts as a new youth sports destination, the PowerPlex in Hazelwood has played host to all sorts of events, including drive-in movies, concerts, and a holiday light display.

13. We’re tackling food insecurity. As the strains of the COVID-19 pandemic stretched across the region, local organizations answered the calls of residents in need by supplying meals and other essential items.

Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis:

• 28: Drive-thru food giveaways

• 3,250: Mobile market clients served

• 21,688: Jennings food pantry clients served

St. Louis Area Food Bank

• 52 Million: Meals served

• 26: Missouri and Illinois counties served

• 624: Community partners and programs served

Food Outreach

• 556,275: Pounds of food distributed

• 459,854: Meals served

• 1,583: Clients served

14. Family-friendly options abound. St. Louis has long been known as a family-friendly city—native St. Louisans often move elsewhere to work or attend college and then come back to raise their kids. And while the region is already renowned for its myriad institutions geared toward tykes (The Magic House, The City Museum, The Saint Louis Zoo, The Science Center, Eckert’s, to name a few faves), it’s expanding options in ways both big (The St. Louis Aquarium and The St. Louis Wheel at Union Station, Main Event at The District) and small (Urban Fort’s new parent-friendly neighboring coffee shop Gather, Rockwell Beer Garden in Francis Park, Clementine’s in Kirkwood).

15. There are more alfresco (and dog-friendly) dining options than ever. Boasting acres of off-leash space, a restaurant, and three bars, Bar K recently opened to howls of approval in The Grove. This spring, The Doghaus Soulard plans to open a location in Dogtown, next to Hogtown Smokehouse. At the same time, new food truck destinations have rolled out, including Affton’s 9 Mile Garden, the state’s first food truck park. (A second spot is planned for 2022.) In the Metro East, food truck–based cloud concept Soulcial Kitchen will serve as an incubator for new food concepts. Also slated to open this year is Frankie Martin’s Garden in Cottleville, where a historic home hosts whiskey and wine tastings, a new barn will house a beer venue, music and movies will be featured, and food trucks will rotate for lunch and dinner service. And many restaurants have expanded and redefined their patios. The Tavern added a covered side patio, while The Crow’s Nest opened one out back. The charming patio at Tony’s is fully covered for the winter, and its heated floor is a game changer. Edera continues to dazzle diners with its heated outdoor “chalets,” and Peno added additional seats beneath heated cover outside.  The multi-room outdoor structure at indo is cozy, Russell’s sports several VIP tents, and a larger tent at Truffles may be the best of the genre.

16. Forest Park just keeps getting better. At the heart of St. Louis’ sprawling park is the new Anne O’C. Albrecht Nature Playscape, 17 acres of experiential play space where kiddos can climb on rocks, dig in the sand, balance on logs, and explore. Nearby, the Saint Louis Zoo’s new Primate Canopy Trails is equally entertaining for tykes and offers interactive features—an elevated boardwalk, see-through tunnels, a towering tree fort of sorts—unlike anything else in the popular attraction.

17. Our local Twitter scene is a mystery that I never want to solve. @Amanda Woytus

When I lived and worked in New York City, if my Twitter was blowing up, it was a bad thing. It usually meant that A. Whatever magazine conglomeration I happened to be working at was being sold to another magazine conglomeration, and my job security was uncertain; or B. Whatever magazine conglomeration I happened to be working at was involved in a good old-fashioned Magazine Scandal related to either personnel or content.

St. Louis Twitter is blessedly different.

In the run-up to my move here, I began following active STL tweeters. It immediately felt like I had walked into a party where I didn’t know anyone, everyone was in on the same inside joke, and I needed to play detective to figure out just what was so funny.

A man who owns one of St. Louis’ oldest restaurants, @kzieff, tweets innuendos about how his nuts (pecans!) will soon be covered in chocolate. People who appear to be regulars chide him because his soda shop doesn’t serve … French fries (why not??). Others seem to playfully troll a local artist and purveyor of toys, @Torcho, for not carrying Beanie Babies. And @marciadorsey, the mother of the man who invented Twitter, himself an STL native, caps each evening by wishing us goodnight—in Italian.

What is this place? Who cares? I love it here.

While the rest of the world has moved on to TikTok, I make attempts to assimilate on local Twitter. When people reply to me, it feels like a victory. A former committeewoman for the city, @stl7thward, tweets a lot about gardens and gives me advice on what to do with my flower beds when we get an unexpected cold snap in the spring. A librarian, @emily_syst, and I chat about child-rearing. The host of St. Louis on the Air, @sarahfenske, tweets that she’s going to be discussing the future of The Dome on her program. Should we keep it or demolish it? Someone replies that they’re holding out hope that The Rock will revive our XFL team and we can use it as their home. “If we save it for the XFL, we must rebrand it as The Dome of the Rock,” I write. Three people like my response!

There’s some kind of lesson to be learned here about how the internet can unite strangers with very disparate experiences and interests just because they all happen to live in the same place (offline).

For me, St. Louis Twitter is all about the intrigue, about trying to figure out this kooky place even though I’ve lived here for three years. Mysteries remain—and that’s part of the appeal.

Because if I truly understood this world—if I fit into it—I think it would lose a bit of its magic.

The week I moved to St. Louis, I spent a good chunk of my time trying to suss out who, exactly, is Richard Callow (@publiceyestl). I’m still not 100 percent sure, but I think he lives inside the whale sculpture at City Museum. If I’m wrong, I never want to know.

18. The dining scene rivals Seattle’s. —Stefanie Ellis

There were things I didn’t love about St. Louis when I left 13 years ago to move to Seattle, but the food wasn’t one of them. Even before national publications were singing the praises of our James Beard Awards honorees, I knew that St. Louis had something special to offer. Despite moving to a food city like Seattle, little compared to the erstwhile Zoe’s Pan Asian Café, Atlas, and Niche.

Now that I’m back, I’m pleased to find my favorite dishes still remain on the menus at Saigon Café and Katie’s Pizza & Pasta—fried calamari with lemon-mint sauce (muc chien) and stuffed squash blossoms, respectively—but I’ve been too busy making up for lost time to get sentimental. I’ve got pizza margheritas to compare—something abundant and beloved in Seattle. So far, Noto and Casa Don Alfonso are neck and neck, with Katie’s and Edera next in line, but I’ve still got Melo’s, Pastaria, Pizzeria da Gloria, Louie, and O+O Pizza to try.

There are so many things to find in St. Louis that can’t be found in Seattle (Ted Drewes’ Fox Treat, Lombardo’s T-ravs, and people who don’t think it’s weird to say hi when you pass them on the street, to name a few).

I have friends who are also Seattle transplants and huge coffee lovers (no surprise). Among their faves: Fiddlehead Fern Café, Coffeestamp, Sump, Kaldi’s, Deer Creek, Teleo Coffee, and Upshot in Cottleville. That’s to say nothing of the craft beer scene.

Where to get a Seattle food fix in St. Louis? There’s Sushi Ai and Sen Thai, as well as indo. For fresh fish at home, Bob’s Seafood is a reliable source. “I go to Kimchi Guyswhen I’m missing Korean fried chicken,” one friend says. “Everyone knows St. Louis has a great Italian food scene, but there is a legit Asian food scene here, too—from Vietnamese to Korean to fusion.”

“The diversity in ethnic cuisine here is growing, which is great to see,” adds another friend, who cites some of her favorite all-around spots since moving back as Polite Society, The Bellwether, and Little Fox.

I interviewed husband-and-wife team Loryn and Edo Nalic of Balkan Treat Boxmany years ago for a national story on St. Louis’ Bosnian food scene. My first time trying the cheese pide at the brick-and-mortar restaurant stopped me in my tracks. It was a symphony of flavors.

I know that no matter what I eat, though, I’ll always be comforted by that little voice inside that told me St. Louis knew what it was doing with its food. When we can fish for crab as fresh as Seattle’s in the Meramec River, I’ll have everything I need. Until then, I’ll keep my mind open and my stomach empty.

19. Local businesses are making a difference. Back in November 2021, social media influencer Charlie Rocket’s Dream Machine Foundation and Lia Holter of Florissant bakery Made. by Lia teamed up for something sweet. Holter turned over her store to Lyla McCarty, a 10-year-old aspiring baker and lover of pigs from Arnold who was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome in her leg. Her condition is rare, and often described as more painful than childbirth or amputation. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported, friends and family had set up a GoFundMe after insurance denied her treatment at a pediatric pain rehabilitation program. Charlie Rocket took notice of the story and organized a fundraiser to collect $100,000 for Lyla’s treatment and her very own pet pig. Thousands turned out to purchase piggie-shaped cookies, and after the fundraiser, the Dream Machine Foundation launched a website where people could purchase Lyla’s confections to raise additional funds. By the end of the month, the money for Lyla’s treatment was secured.

20. We’re embracing the outdoors. It’s not just the parks, even though they’re plentiful, and some, quite hikeable. Consider also the many stretches of greenway—along the Meramec in the south, the Missouri to the west, or the Mississippi to the north—and imagine the centerpiece that’s in the works: The Brickline Greenway. But  about those rivers: More folks paddle them now, and more kinds of folks, too, thanks to inclusive groups such as Outdoor Afro. Throw in free sunrise yoga inKiener Plaza, the Katy Trail, and some single track for mountain bikers on the edges of the Ozark plateau, and you’ve got many ways to get aerobic alfresco.

21. We have innovative retail and restaurant destinations. Despite the pandemic, entrepreneurs have continued to roll out fresh offerings. Take Webster Groves’ Old Orchard neighborhood, where a slew of modern shops (Union Studio, Dharma + Dwell, The Annex, Civil Alchemy, Field Theory, Forth and Home) have popped up beside newish restaurants (Balkan Treat Box, The Frisco Barroom, Chiang Mai). In the city, The Grove, Midtown, and Cherokee Street continue to bloom, offering an eclectic mix of fashion, food, and fun. And at the edges of the metro area, new options are popping up in St. Charles and Edwardsville.

22. Modern living options abound. The city has seen a surge of luxury living options sprout up in recent years: Tribeca and the Chelsea near Forest Park, 4101 Laclede and The Euclid in the Central West End, CHROMA and the Gateway Lofts in The Grove, the Woodward Lofts and The Malone farther east—and that’s just scratching the surface. Here are four additional new and forthcoming noteworthy projects.

One Cardinal WayPart of Ballpark Village’s second phase, the 29-story, 297-unit luxury apartment complex boasts private balconies, an entertainment lounge, and a rooftop pool deck with perhaps the best view in town. (And across the street, 300 S. Broadway is being renovated to house 80 apartments near the riverfront.) 1 Cardinal Way.

One HundredDesigned by Chicago’s Studio Gang, the modern 316-unit structure towers over Forest Park. At 36 stories, it’s taller than the nearby Chase Park Plaza—and it’s among the region’s most eye-catching buildings. As the Post reported, some have described it as a “magazine rack.” We’ll take it as a compliment. 100 N. Kingshighway.

Steelcote SquarePier Property Group is transforming the intersection of Grand and Chouteau. First, it opened the nearby 33-unit Steelcote Lofts in a former paint company building. Then it reimagined a former oil company building as the 15-unit Steelcote Crossing. Now, it’s preparing to open the 105-unit Steelcote Flats and breaking ground on the highly anticipated The Edwin, which will include more luxury apartments and a Target. 801 Edwin.

SoHo in SoulardSituated near the historic Soulard Market, Lux Living’s modern development will span six stories and 320 units, and include a basketball court, fitness center, bowling alley, saltwater pool deck, a lounge, and a dog park. Lux Living also developed such high-profile projects as the nearby Steelyard apartments; Bordreaux in Lafayette Square; and Hudson, Tribeca, and Chelsea near Forest Park. 1501 S. 7th.

23. Pickleball is quickly becoming mainstream. In a few short years, this sport with the silly name but serious devotees has exploded in public parks and private clubs alike. We’re not surprised. The barriers to entry are low.

Rules: They’re a blend of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton and are super easy to pick up just by watching how-to videos on YouTube. The pickleball community tends to be a friendly and helpful bunch, so don’t be afraid to ask nearby players some questions. (Frankly, even an informal volley can be a blast.)

Technique: Unlike many sports, pickleball does not richly reward brute strength. Instead, the best players know how to hit the ball into just the right spot—and that, in turn, is best accomplished by hustling your feet and body into the right position before you swing, rather than trying to stretch out far with your paddle to slam one home.

Equipment: Most sporting goods stores have paddles and balls, or you can shop online, but we recommend borrowing from a friend or renting paddles at certain facilities (such as Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Forest Park) beforehand, just to make sure it jazzes you.

24. Soccer is booming. On the surface, it looks like we traded professional football for pro fútbol, but St. Louis has always been a soccer town. Among major U.S. metropolitan areas, only Denver and San Diego produce more professional soccer players per capita than our city, according to data compiled by American Soccer Now. Our hometown bunch is headlined by U.S. Women’s National Team star Becky Sauerbrunn, and there’s Josh Sargent on the men’s side. Soon, the sport will have a local home when the new MLS franchise, St. Louis CITY SC, moves into its brand-new digs in Downtown West.

25. Our impact is felt beyond Earth. When NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars last February, it was adorned with two data-gathering instruments designed and built by South City startup Impossible Sensing. Cool, right? But that wasn’t even the first—or second—time that St. Louis has contributed to humanity’s understanding of the galaxy. In the 1960s, St. Louis produced the spacecrafts for Project Mercury and Project Gemini, NASA’s first two human spaceflight programs. Further research of our universe is ongoing at Washington University’s McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences.

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