Having moved to St. Louis a little under three weeks ago, I know there’s a lot to learn about the history and culture of this place. I have yet to try toasted ravioli and I’ve been met with a few blank stares when I’ve pronounced street names in a decidedly French way. Apparently that’s not how you do things here! One thing that I do feel confident in, however, is using the public transit system.
In the last 5 years, I’ve lived in 4 different states and 2 different countries. I’ve always felt that one of the best methods to explore your new surroundings is to take advantage of the public transportation system that exists in that place. Public transit systems are often designed both for the everyday commuter and an out-of-town visitor, so staying on even one extra stop potentially means you will see something of great interest.
For instance, did you know that St. Louis houses one of the country’s earliest skyscrapers? The Wainwright Building at 111 N 7th St. was built between 1890 and 1891 and has been designated both a City Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. Located just around the corner from the 8th and Pine MetroLink station, I may not have ever known about the building if my work commute didn’t involve passing right by it.
Maybe most locals know about this landmark, but I certainly didn’t and I’m sure a lot of other newcomers or visitors don’t either. Once you’ve lived in a place long enough, or ridden the same transit route long enough, your surroundings may start to become a blur because you’ve seen it hundreds or maybe even thousands of times. It may be difficult to see your commute as anything other than a way to get from point a to point b.
Public transit can be a lot more than that, though. Maybe it is a way for someone to access a cultural offering in the St. Louis area, a way for another person to reach a medical appointment, and a way for someone else to visit an old friend. Public transit is ultimately what the users of the system make it, and from what I have seen so far here in St. Louis, you all make it pretty great!
A few highlights from my two weeks using public transit:
- Being asked by Metro Security if I was warm enough on a cold morning last week;
- Taking MetroLink over the historic Eads bridge into Illinois for the first time;
- Witnessing multiple people on the crowded 95 Kingshighway bus offer up their seat for an older person;
- Adding multiple things to my list of “Things to do/see in STL” purely based off of seeing them from my bus or train window and deciding they look interesting!
Whether you are a newcomer like me or have lived in the area most (if not all) of your life, I encourage you to be a tourist in your own city. Find a landmark accessible via MetroBus or MetroLink and check it out. Maybe it’s cliché but they say life is about the journey, and you may find the journey via public transit more enjoyable than you thought it would be!
If you are looking for a structured way to get out, meet new people, and see new sights, consider joining the CMT Ten Toe Express program. This walking group is open to all ages and is a fun way to become comfortable using public transit and walking in new areas. While the Fall 2023 season is coming to a close, I will be leading walks in the spring and would love the opportunity to meet you and explore together!
For more information about the CMT Ten Toes Express program, please visit the Ten Toes website.
Karen Troxell is the Program and Membership Manager at Citizens for Modern Transit. When not at work, she is likely reading, organizing her apartment, or exploring the St. Louis area.
If you have a suggestion for where she should go next, send her an email at: email@example.com.