Left Bank Books presents a local history showcase with Arcadia Publishing authors Don Corrigan and Holly Shanks (Forest Park, July 2017), Maureen O’Connor Kavanaugh (Hidden History of Downtown St. Louis, January 2017), Annie Amantea Blum (The Steamer Admiral, March 2017), and Bob Hansman (Pruitt-Igoe, July 2017) on Tuesday, July 18, 7 p.m., at Left Bank Books (399 N. Euclid). This event is free and open to the public, but proof of purchase of one of the featured titles will be required to enter the signing line.
Don Corrigan and Holly Shanks will discuss Forest Park. At 1,293 acres, Forest Park exceeds the size of New York’s Central Park by nearly 500 acres, and within are lakes, hills, wetlands, woodlands and bountiful recreational opportunities. Within a few decades of its 1876 opening, Forest Park became the host for the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, as well as the 1904 Summer Olympics. Known as the “Heart of St. Louis,” the park features amazing attractions, such as the Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, The Muny, and the Saint Louis Science Center. Today, the park continues to host remarkable events, including Fair St. Louis, Earth Day, Shakespeare in the Park, and LouFest.
Don Corrigan is editor-in-chief of three newspapers in the St. Louis area for Webster-Kirkwood Times, Inc. He is also an award-winning professor of journalism at Webster University in its School of Communications. He is the author of five books on communications, the environment, and the outdoors. Holly Shanks is a freelance journalist in the St. Louis area and a cum laude graduate of Webster University, with a degree in journalism and certificate of outdoor and environmental journalism. Don Corrigan & Holly Shanks write and report regularly on the green/outdoor blog EnvironmentalEcho.com.
Maureen O’Connor Kavanaugh will discuss Hidden History of St. Louis. A reputation as the town of shoes, booze, and blues persists in St. Louis. But a fascinating history waits just beneath the surface in the heart of the city, like the labyrinth of natural limestone caves where Anheuser-Busch got its start. One of the city’s Garment District shoe factories was the workplace of a young Tennessee Williams, referenced in his first Broadway play, The Glass Menagerie. Downtown’s vibrant African American community was the source and subject of such folk-blues classics as “Frankie and Johnny” and “Stagger Lee,” not to mention W.C. Handy’s classic “St. Louis Blues.”
Maureen Kavanaugh is a St. Louis tour guide specializing in the history of the greater St. Louis area from the year 1000 to the present. She publishes a WordPress blog (stltourguide.wordpress.com) on St. Louis history, landmarks, events and people and is the author of The Campbell Family of St. Louis: Their Public Triumphs and Personal Tragedies, published by the Campbell House Museum in St. Louis in 2016.
Annie Amantea Blum will discuss The Steamer Admiral. John Streckfus began his small Acme Company in 1889 with one wooden packet boat, the steamer Verne Swain, out of Rock Island, IL, carrying people and goods on the Mississippi River. His business grew, but each year brought competition from the growing railroads. He decided that excursion boats were the only way to compete. He built the steamer J.S. in and “tramped” her from town to town offering excursions and dance cruises. The flagship, the steamer Admiral, was far above the others. She provided excursions, fun, and memories for almost 40 years.
Annie Amantea Blum has lived close to the river in St. Louis, MO, all of her life. She is a retired teacher and school counselor and author. She worked for 16 summers on the steamer Admiral, the most wonderful excursion boat on the Mississippi River. The pictures in her book come from St. Louis Mercantile Library on the campus of the University of Missouri–St. Louis, which houses the Streckfus Papers, and from the personal collection of her husband, Capt. Jim Blum.
Bob Hansman will discuss Pruitt-Igoe. In the early 1950s, Pruitt-Igoe, a vast public housing project, arose on 57 acres on the near north side of St. Louis. Barely 20 years after construction, the 33 eleven-story buildings were razed, and the vacant land that was once home to thousands of people was gradually reclaimed by a dense, neglected urban forest. What happened in-between is a story that tempts but also defies simple narratives.Alongside iconic images, other seldom-seen photographs flesh out the history in sometimes surprising ways and, in doing so, preserve some of the stories that are in danger of being permanently erased and lost, just as Pruitt-Igoe was.
A St. Louis native, Bob Hansman is an associate professor and a faculty fellow of the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement at Washington University in St. Louis. In the early 1990s, he founded—and still directs, with his son Jovan—City Faces and the Jermaine Lamond Roberts Memorial Studio, in the Clinton-Peabody public housing project. Locally, he has received a Rosa Parks Award and a Dred Scott Freedom Award for his work.