Saturday, July 12, 2014

#175: Gaslight Square

It's hard to imagine at the corner of Olive and Boyle streets that a trendy area once existed. It is said that it was similar to the Delmar Loop, but I'll never know. In all honesty I wasn't that familiar with the whole 'Gaslight' neighborhood until now, even though I've heard bits and pieces about how legendary it was. In fact, it was for a short time. From the 1950s to the late-1960s Woodstock era, Gaslight was alive and well. All good things must have come to an end.

So what happened? Well, some fast-paced changes for that time. Remember, picture yourself in the city, post-World War II. Yes, we had the feelgood 50s, and the turbulent 60s. Let's leave out all the moments like the Civil Rights movement. If you wanted to see the latest 'up and coming' musician or comedian, this was the place to go. You can grab a beer, socialize, smoke it up, whatever. You could catch the Smothers Brothers and Jerry Stiller before they would go on to be famous. I've heard a story about a security guard having a long conversation with a young Barbra Streisand late at night, when she was a 'nobody'. Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers Band wrote in his autobiography about Gaslight, where he and his brother Duane performed as the 'Allman Joys'. Even local guy Miles Davis, during his peak, would perform here. But it all died a slow poison, as people faded. Crime was a major factor. There was the so-called 'white flight' and urban decay, as suburbs became more popular.

Today, most of the buildings are non-existent. If they do, they are without doubt showing signs of deterioration. Replacing most of them are upscale condos, which were built earlier this century.

And what's with the name? Gaslight? Because the streets at the time during its peak were all lit with them. It makes perfect sense that Laclede Gas was a sponsor of this cake since it was around during that time, and provided them with it.

A closer look at the 'triangle' that leads to part of the area

top of the cake

Seemingly in detail, this provides quite a comprehensive history for those who 'weren't there' (myself included) during that era. Who knew George Carlin (during his clean years) performed here?!

An episode of KETC Channel 9's 'Living St. Louis' devoted to Gaslight Square

Wikipedia link
Official website

Located at the corner of Boyle and Olive
Cake artist: Theresa Hopkins
Cake sponsored by Laclede Gas

UPDATE (8/24/2016): The cake is still there.

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