DOWNTOWN-ONE LAST TIME PDF Print E-mail
Family Travels

 

“The lights are much brighter there; You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go Downtown; things’ll be great when you’re Downtown; no finer place for sure, Downtown; everything’s waiting for you Downtown.”

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Like me, I am sure that you treasure fond memories of the wonderful hustle and bustle of downtown St. Louis at Christmas, especially the Winter Wonderland Famous Barr once created for its patrons. Since our children were born, it has been our holiday tradition to walk over the bridge from the parking garage to the department store, take the elevator to the top floor of the beautiful old May Company’s building and then ride the escalator down to each floor, stopping for shopping, until we reached the second floor where we lunched at Papa Fabarres, finally ending up on the beautifully decorated first floor. This was always the place!

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If only things would stay the same! I hate change, but especially those changes that alter our family traditions. So when I heard that Macy’s is consolidating their downtown store to just three floors, I almost cried. Immediately, I realized that the bridge will no longer be that pathway from the parking garage to sheer delight making it imperative that we memorialize that wonderful passage, so we had one last picture taken of our family on the bridge, before we took one last look at the beautiful cityscape from that view. Ah, how many times I remember standing on that bridge and enjoying the lights from the other skyscrapers and all the activity on the street below.

 

If a visit to Famous Barr was one of your family’s traditions as well, I thought you might like to know so that you, too, can make one last pilgrimage to that holiday icon of yesteryear.

 

Although the May Department Stores Company was founded in 1877 by David May, it wasn’t until 1911 when The Famous Clothing Store, owned by May, and William Barr Dry Goods Company merged that Famous Barr came into being. It ceased to exist when Federated Department Stores purchased the May Company that it officially became Macy’s in 2006. Macy’s then sold this beautiful building to a developer and then just leased the floor space from the purchaser. What will eventually happen to this wonderful landmark is yet to be determined, but I know for certain that it will never be the same.

 

Our holiday tradition also includes a free concert at the Old Court House, a picture in front of the 40-foot Christmas tree in the Metropolitan building, and a drive through the light display at Anheuser Busch. We hope that these remain constant throughout the coming years, but we fear that the concerts at the Old Court House may cease due to the dwindling attendance each year.

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Sadly, there were so few people at the Old Court House today for the wonderful Brass Christmas concert and the Victorian Carolers that one of the rangers commented to our small gathering that they used to put out 100 chairs, but now only put out a small number because the holiday numbers continue to decrease each year.

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For the past week I have lamented over the loss of several St. Louis landmarks that have ceased to exist: Trader Vic’s (where I celebrated my birthday each year), Nantucket Cove (for our annual lobster feast), Bevo Mill (one of my favorites throughout the year, but especially at Christmas), the Cheshire Inn (an annual favorite), Adams Mark (where we used to have High Tea at Christmas) and Famous Barr (the place to shop, especially at Christmas). These very unique, wonderful restaurants are all gone. If only the owners had possessed multi-generational visions and had been faithful to pass them on to their family, we would have these treasures with us still.