St. Louis ideal backdrop for starry night
All-Star Game city steeped in not only baseball history
ST. LOUIS -- Fittingly, the most notable feature of the Cardinals' old home, Busch Stadium II, was the roof's 96 arches that circled the top of the stadium.
Connecting the Cardinals with the city of St. Louis like their rich history has done for more than 100 years, the arches were designed to mirror the iconic Gateway Arch that opened in downtown St. Louis not even a year before Busch Stadium officially opened in 1966.
While the stadium and its arches have since been torn down and replaced with the new Busch Stadium that will host the 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 14, the history of the city of St. Louis and its place in not only baseball history but world history remains strong.
The Arch, which was finished in 1965 and opened to the public in '67, remains the tallest monument in the United States at 630 feet high.
Almost as identifiable to St. Louis is the city's relationship with Anheuser-Busch, whose world headquarters and first brewery were located just south of downtown before they were sold last year. The company's North American headquarters remain in St. Louis, as does the brewery, which first opened as the Bavarian Brewery in 1852.
The Cardinals were owned by the Busch family from 1953-96. The world famous Budweiser Clydesdales continue to make appearances at Busch Stadium, taking laps around the warning track on Opening Day and for playoff appearances.
St. Louis is also known for the creation of toasted ravioli, a small appetizer of meat or cheese wrapped in square ravioli, breaded and deep fried and served with marinara sauce. Still absent from most other cities in the country, toasted ravioli is on the menu in almost all St. Louis restaurants, including those on "The Hill," an area of Italian restaurants that was the home to Italian immigrants in the early 1900's, including baseball legends Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola.
The city of St. Louis, like several other cities, also claims to have the world's first skyscraper. The 10-story Wainwright Building, which was built by 1892, still stands at Chestnut and Seventh Streets downtown, and it is used as a government office building by the state of Missouri.
The history of St. Louis and its importance within the world dates back to at least 1904, when the city hosted the World's Fair in Forest Park to celebrate the Centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. It was at the fair that several foods, including hamburgers, hot dogs, peanut butter, iced tea, cotton candy and the waffle-style ice cream cone, were said to be invented. Many believe, however, that the foods were not invented, but rather introduced to the world and popularized at the fair as the soft drink Dr. Pepper was.
Several buildings from the fair remain fully functional today, including the art and history museums in Forest Park. The fair also inspired the famous song, "Meet Me in St. Louis," as witnessed in the 1944 movie, "Meet Me in St. Louis," starring Judy Garland.
The St. Louis area was also the starting point for the famous Louis and Clark Expedition of 1804, when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were sent by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the newly purchased Louisiana Territory.
B.J. Rains is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.