We (as every house in the city) had an ash pit on the back lot of our house at 3964 McDonald. They were used to burn household rubbish and garbage.

Once that was outlawed (along with burning leaves which was tragic, the smell was wonderful and announced autumn) People took sledge hammers to the pits and opened the side facing the alley. The resulting platform became a staging area for aluminum trash cans.

The cans (subjected to rats ad other vermin) were replaced by the dumpsters in the late 70's.

I do encourage everyone to have the experience of smelling burning leaves, just a couple.

Here's Beau, hot on the trail of a scent:



Did you hear about Blacker than Black on NPR?
If not, click on the title above.

Presenting glazed matte black brick.
This makes life even more supreme!



These are my most favorite bricks in the whole wide world and I'm in brick heaven.
I'm calling them Action Bricks because they evoke the work of action painter, Jackson Pollack.

Revel in the fancy brick work on this factory building, oh mama!

Turned on corners:

Each brick is unique:



Abandoned wasp nest pretending to be an incoming meteorite.

Not a wasp nest but wannbe rock.



I first saw this billboard on Morgan Ford Road. It's since migrated to Natural Bridge in north city.

Lawyer up, dude and you'll get corporate logo branding via the black cap.
I find this extremely offensive.



I suppose I could embrace all face brick with glee but these glazed bricks are increasingly troubling. I like a rough surface be it pocked, pleated, smeared, whatever. Smooth bricks are beginning to give me the willies.

Consider them snubbed but I will continue to document them out of respect for their family.

I simply adore the rare address in the limestone!

This surface crumbling of glazed brick is becoming rampant and not just in TGS.



Rare, but there's a few in the neighborhood: Homes built on the rear of the Lot. Sometimes these were built so the residents could live in them while the Big House was being built up front. I doubt that's the case here since the sidewalk looks original and runs straight back.

View from alley


What you see here is what I have referred to for decades as catholic voodoo. It's the cross from a rosary that reads, I am a Catholic in case of an accident notify a priest.

I bought it in a thrift store about 15 years ago just for the blue crystal beads and silver filigree stampings. A woman standing next to me at the counter asked me if I was a Catholic. I told her I was going to use the beads for jewelry.

That's sacrilegious, she exclaimed.
You're being superstitious, I told her.

Oh crap, my face is reflected in the top of the cross, there's NO escape!

I am an atheist in case of an accident notify a doctor.


Back to Granite City

Granite city is both depressing and exciting.

It's a small town where the only career choice appears to be cashier. Gas is twenty cents higher than in St. Louis. Dollar stores at every corner.

Some of the older buildings have been demolished including an old hotel that was no longer being used. The only new construction I've seen there in a decades is the landfill and subsidized housing. The city's main drag is a six block long strip mall.

Closed YMCA:

Sponge brick:

Large pebble mortar brick.

Decorative terra cotta surrounding doorway.

Bet you a hundred clams that this mosaic tile facade isn't original to the building. I cringe to think it may have been vitrolite.

Lisa's Diner. Hell no, I didn't go in.

Killer storefront with deep red vitrolite (and reflected clouds)

Shredded awnings on the abandoned building:

Love this brickwork that looks as if it's a perforated line:
Dusty two family

There's a layer of dusty film over everything in Granite City due to the steel mill. The whole city is a smudge like walking through an ash tray.
Facade of the Granite City library:



Or was it?

This photo was taken in front of the first (and last) home my grandfather Busch bought.

Photo by William (or Wilheim) Busch, a creepy and arrogant man who who left Germany shortly after WW1 (he was a topographer with Baron Von Richthofen), came to the States and landed in Springfield, IL where he met my grandmother, Ruth Steelman.

He seduced her on the floor of her parents living room and she became pregnant. Reluctant to marry he literally ran off with a visiting circus, was located, and my 80 year old aunt divulged a shotgun may have been involved during the wedding.

My mother had a photo of Wilheim with his flying squad. He had written the names of his cronies in white ink over their chest. Rudolf Hess was on one side, Hermann Goering on the other (I was never been able to locate that photo after my mother's death.) Because of the photo and the way he treated all three of his children, his children and grandchildren have always referred to him as the Nazi.

The Nazi molested all three of his children (one boy, two girls) and my two sisters (gratefully, I was spared and not left alone with him). His son did the same to some (unrelated) younger girls when he was an adult.

The small elderly women in this photo is his mother, Emma Kilter. She gave birth to Wilheim when she was 16 in Bonn Germany. No one knew who his father was or the circumstances of his conception. Emma Kilter owned an antique store in Great Neck Long Island.

The two babes in the photo are my aunt and mother (their mother is peeking out between them). Since they had been raised during the Depression the coral color dress my Mom is wearing (along with that box purse) remained in our home for decades.

Next to my mother is my father sporting a massive pompadour and holding me. We are the only two people in this group who are not smiling. This may have been due to our close proximity to each other.

This house was on Solar Lane.
From what I understand it was really the dark side of the sun.
I miss my Mother.
Her most important lesson: Do what you want to do and not what you think you should do.

She's a brick house
The lady's stacked and that's a fact,
ain't holding nothing back.
- Lionel Richie


We've a variety of colossally cool columns here in Tower Grove South and now that it's getting warmer I will continue the tour.

Meanwhile, feast your eyes on these prime numbers.

Tapered brick (and props for the shape of the bush!)

Fabulous stone:

Here's my most favorite:



One of the ways you can tell if a building was built prior to 1920 is if the window frames are arched and not flat. You tell me why.

I simply adore this two family building on 41 Hartford and not just because of the cornice but that limestone foundation is dreamy. I'm sorry it will be eventually obscured by the bushes.

Bushes and trees close to a brick building is always a bad notion. Let the brick breathe.

I always relish is the reflection of sky and trees in windows:

That's one killer cornice.



I had emailed the mayor of Granite City with a few questions and he provided email addressees of those who could answer.

One of my questions was about the Zephyr, the other about the architect of my favorite (and only) Modern building in Granite. I was referred to Joe Ribbing at US Steel.

His response:
The engineer/architect was Sverdrup and Parcel Inc. from St. Louis. Construction started in June 1958, the building was completed and opened for business in February 1960. The "L"-shaped structure originally housed both Granite City Steel's main offices and the First Granite City National Bank. The bank utilized the 2- story section along 20th Street, while the steel offices, now U S Steel, Granite City Works, occupy the 5- story section along State Street. Currently, the bank section is vacant and is being partially utilized for document and material storage. As such, we respectfully decline your request to take interior photographs of the facility.

Click on the title above to read about Sverdrup and John I. Parcel.

Side view, black bricks!

Back view, enameled steel

BTW, I've been at this for decades, writing to people for answers. It all started with Hostess Sno-balls. I just had to know who designed Sno-Balls. All I remember is they were designed in 1947 but have gone lost my correspondence. Of course I just emailed them.


A few days ago driving into Granite City riding over the train yard when I spotted a streamlined stainless steel Zephyr.


A three car Zephyr (this is one of three Zephyr's ever made), looking oddly slim from 200 feet away. I saw a side road and within a few moments I was parked about 20 feet from it.

It's about five feet wide and practically demolished.

Curious as to why it was parked in Granite City (and worried it was headed to the Granite City Steel Scrap yard), I googled. Click on the title above and read about how it will be part of the downtown Granite City redevelopment (and one woman's sly comment about using TIF's correctly)! Interesting, I never realized G.C. didn't have a newspaper. I emailed the Mayor of Granite City yesterday asking for permission to photograph what's left of the interior. I would have climbed in but I was only with Beau and (once again) on private property.

Click on the Granite City tag below this post and scroll down for photos of an abandoned downtown Granite City.

For an understanding of just how skinny the train is, note Beau (canine) towards the lower right of the train for scale.

Boarding doors:

Nose of the train with etched Mark Twain signature. The holes above are where a bronze bas relief of Samuel Clemens was once bolted.

Will it be restored to this?

The shovel-nose front which is missing in the above photo was designed to quickly remove cows from the train tracks and looked like this: