Lafayette Square

Beautiful morning light in Lafayette Square

 

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During my last visit to St. Louis, I indulged myself. I decided to stay in a historic mansion that is now a a bed and breakfast called the Lehmann House, just off of Lafayette Park, in the historic Lafayette Square neighborhood of St. Louis. This beautiful section of urban space is unrivaled in any U.S. city. It was one of the earliest planned communities in the once mighty industrial city, and it catered to the very wealthy when it was developed in the 1800s. It was built around the oldest municipal park west of the Mississippi River, Lafayette Park.

I have shared photo essays on my blog before about the area’s exquisitely built brick homes and architectural styles. I did not have much time to enjoy the area as I had hoped, but I squeezed in two morning walks that were about as perfect as I can remember, ever. The light had that brilliant Midwest-morning Kodacolor glow, and the air smelled fresh from a recent rain. I wandered around the “hood” and snapped these shots, allowing my senses to guide me. If you visit St. Louis, you have to put this place on your list. You will then wonder what we have done so wrong in urban design since we built communities with craftsmanship and care not that long ago.

April in Paris? Mais, non, c’est le printemps à St. Louis

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Lafayette Square in St. Louis is one of the most beautiful urban spaces in the United States. It remains mostly hidden from outsiders because of the city’s relatively lowly status as a tourist destination for U.S. and international visitors.

I frequently visit Lafayette Park, the oldest park west of the Mississippi River, and the surrounding Lafayette Square neighborhood. when I see my family on home visits to the St. Louis metro region. I stopped by in Mid-April and soaked up the scenery.

I did not experience the sublime pleasures of “April in Paris,” as Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong so eloquently evoke, but I had a fabulous time enjoying April in St. Louis.

Lafayette Square, architectural gem of the Midwest

(Click on each photograph to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

Lafayette Square is a historic upper-class neighborhood in south central St. Louis. Today, it is a state historic district, off Chouteau, Jefferson, and Lafayette Avenue. The area surrounds Lafayette Park, the oldest public park west of the Mississippi River. Despite the area being ravaged by a tornado in 1896 and being cut off from other neighborhoods by Interstate 44, many of the historic Second Empire style French row houses and Romanesque mansions surrounding the park remain in superb condition.

Today, cities are trying to recreate this style of development, of tightly built row homes surrounding public spaces. But no one builds homes like this anymore, not with brick and sandstone at least.

There are tours offered twice a year of the homes through a community organization, but anyone can wander the streets surrounding the park and enjoy the beauty of a superbly built community, where money built dwellings that continue to stand the test of time.

For this series I used my Fuji X-Pro1 and my old Leica 24mm Elmar lens–my favorite lens of all. I love the colors and crispness.