Thursday, June 26, 2014

#100: East St. Louis Municipal Building

This is where, obviously, all the city officials meet and work in the heart of East St. Louis. The city of East St. Louis has five cakes, all in notable locations. Since this cake location is about the main government building, I thought I would tell a little history about the community/city and its struggles. First, East St. Louis was founded in 1797 by Captain James Piggott, who was a Revolutionary War vetaran. At that time, it was called 'Illinoistown'. Piggott operated a ferry business that transported things from East St. Louis to the Illinois Territory. This was the beginning of its long history in manufacturing and industries.

Despite of the city's long, rich history, East St. Louis has taken an unfortunate hit nation-wide as it has remained over the years on several Top 10 lists (sometimes No. 1) as the nation's 'most dangerous city'. In 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation listed East St. Louis as No. 1 because of its high rates in crime (rape, homicide, burglary, etc.). It has also been recognized as a 'hellhole' recently on Saturday Night Live, in which Mayor Alvin Parks continuously denies. East St. Louis High School is the only high school that I've ever seen that has a sign that reads, 'No Weapons, No Drugs Allowed'. One would wonder after driving through parts of the city and seeing its scars that if East St. Louis could ever be revived and saved. There are numerous theories and several blaming factors that have led to its current state, but for me to write about it would have to be in book-form.

All the negative aside, the city does have some gems and marvels. Take the most recent: the Gateway Geyser, located at the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park. It is located within a walking distance from the city's big economic jewel, Casino Queen. East St. Louis also does not forget its famous past residents, including Katherine Dunham, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Miles Davis and Dawn Harper. There are several efforts that have been going on in the last 20 years to revive suburban housing, mostly put on by volunteers. In the summer of 1998, I helped with my church youth group to repair roofs and put up drywall in a couple houses.
Reserved for the mighty mayor of East St. Louis

Cake artist Katherine Nelson, who has decorated many cakes for the STL250 project, decided to a theme based on ladybugs for this particular cake. In short, she wanted it to 'celebrate the joy of discovering a ladybug!'. Ladybugs are one of the smallest creatures found in the St. Louis area, especially in the Missouri Botanical Gardens. According to this cake's stl250 page, Katherine used a lot of black paint and contrast on it.

Front and right side of the cake

Left side of the cake

East St. Louis, Illinois Wikipedia link
City of East St. Louis' Official website

301 River Park Drive, EAST ST. LOUIS, IL, 62201
Cake artist: Katherine Nelson

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