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Friday, October 22, 2004

The more things change...

Apparently, the millions of dollars being reinvested in downtown Saint Louis and the countless historic buildings being reborn as lofts and hotels are not -- repeat, not -- part of any sensible urban planning.

That's right, the totally senseless is still as inherent in St. Louis urban development as it has been for the past fifty years. This week, however, one of the most senseless things ever to happen in St. Louis began: the demolition of the downtown landmark, the Century Building at 9th and Olive.

The 1896 office building is a Missouri singularity and an American original. It's clad entirely in marble and utilizes a unique combined concrete-and-steel frame construction. Largely unoccupied since 1994, the building now falls to make way for a useless parking structure.

The Century Building is part of the last remaining intact group of downtown office buildings, those clustered around the Old Post Office. This group is now forever altered, and irreplaceable. No other intact corner in all of the city compares to 9th and Olive, which paled in comparison to the senselessly-destroyed brilliance radiating from 7th and Olive (mostly destroyed in the early 1980's).

KWMU radio has posted photos of the demolition in progress.

Built St. Louis has images of the Century prior to demolition along with an impassioned plea for saving the building.

In April 2002, I published an article about the city government's plan to purchase the Century Building and its neighbor, the 1906 Syndicate Trust Building: The Biggest Windfall in St. Louis History.

The Save the Century site stands as a grim reminder of the widespread support that the building had from thousands of caring Saint Louisans, who could not stop this devastating event.

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