St. Louis is famous for Budweiser, the Cardinals, and the Gateway Arch. And Eero Saarinen's 630-foot-high stainless-steel arch—part building, part sculpture—has towered over the banks of the Mississippi River at the edge of the city for more than four decades. It's not only a recognizable marker of St. Louis, but one of this country's most iconic structures.
Yet despite the city's association with a design masterwork, much of its modernist architecture has been demolished in favor of parking lots or sprawling faux-Tudor homes, and the interesting design fueled by post-World War II cash has been lost in the process.
Still, intrepid design fans can find pockets of modernism throughout the city and suburbs, and fresh efforts are afoot to keep these structures standing.
Meanwhile, an upcycling mentality is recharging many of the city's older pre-War neighborhoods, which are flush with creative energy, innovative restaurants, galleries, farmers' markets, and concert venues. Here, you'll find St. Louis loyalists deeply committed to their corner of the Rust Belt, bringing to it the same quirky, progressive spirit that inspired Saarinen's masterpiece decades ago.—Georgina Gustin