So some time back I raved about Renegade Tours as part of my Couples Weekend post. If you clicked on their site, you might notice some changes! They have partnered with the Missouri History Museum to become See STL Walking Tours. This means easier booking, and you’re more likely to have others with you on the tour, bringing down the cost.
Recently, my awesome husband turned 40, and I was looking for a unique gift that he’d enjoy. We’ve always been more about experiences than stuff, so I decided to try another history walking tour. Last time my husband and I did a Soulard Market area tour, but this time we tried out St. Louis History and Archetecture 101, which revolves around the downtown area. .
We began our tour on a rainy morning in Kiener Plaza Park, on the day of a run no less. Our guide was easy to find, along with the other family that would be joining us. We made introductions and soon learned we were all St. Louis natives, who wanted to know more about our city.
As we began, our guide made sure to speak loudly enough for us to hear over the rain and the race announcer. She walked us to a plaque that faces the Old Courthouse that I had never noticed. The plaque details the ancient history of the area and points out that we literally built downtown St. Louis on a Native American burial ground! After getting over that disturbing, cursed information we made our way over to the Old Courthouse as the rain started to ease up. From the Old Courthouse our guide pointed out the history of several buildings dotting the St. Louis skyline that I’d never thought about before and whose stories fascinated even my ten-year-old.
Part of the fun of the tour was sharing our own histories with these spaces, including my husband’s citizenship ceremony eight years ago in the Old Courthouse, presided over by the mayor on July 4th. After the Old Courthouse we headed over towards the Arch, where we learned my favorite history of the tour. Looking at the Eads bridge, we learned it was first safety tested by elephants!
We then headed west and saw banks that have been converted into hotels and bars, old train stations, and again personal histories. The family we were touring with shared how the now empty Famous Bar building used to be a Christmas tradition with beautifully decorated windows and visits with Santa. We envisioned the adults as children, faces pressed to the windows with lights all around and snow on the ground. This had us dreaming of what some of these now abandoned building used to hold and might become again!
I could repeat this tour several times and still have more to learn and there are at least 7 more tours to try! If you are visiting and want to know about the beginnings of this city or are a native who wants to know the history behind the surroundings you’ve known all your life this is two hours of your time you will never forget!