Chicago to St Louis

What started as a road trip from Chicago, through St Louis, possibly stopping in Memphis, then back through Atlanta with Matt, Beth, and Pete, ended up being a flight to Chicago and a quick drive to St Louis for a night. I flew up to Chicago early in the morning on Friday a few hours before Matt and Beth arrived, so Charlie picked me up at the airport and we immediately began hunting for locations nearby. The first place we stopped was an abandoned railroad roundhouse. Not much to it, but it had some good graffiti and a lot of sitting water for reflection shots. After spending a little time there, we walked to some weird abandoned tower nearby. Nothing really to that place either. Took a shot or two just outside the tower, but didn’t take any from inside. Here are a few from the roundhouse.

roundhouse reflection office roundhouse 1up

One of the highlights from my last visit to Chicago was eating at Small Cheval, so I really wanted to eat at Au Cheval and get the full experience (and menu). Since they open at 11am and are always super busy, we decided to go there next so we can be waiting for a table when they open. We got there a 10:45 and there was already a very sizable line outside the door. Undeterred, we stuggle to find parking and walk up to join the line around 10:55. They stopped seating customers like 5-10 people ahead of us and all of the sudden, there’s a 45 minute to an hour wait. Back to Small Cheval we go. After destroying delicious burgers and fries, we still had a bit of time before Matt and Beth arrived from Florida, so we decided to go take a look around an abandoned bank. We were given a suggested entry point, but it was all sealed up. Luckily, after some searching, we found an incredibly easy way in. Pretty unimpressive at first, but we were pleasantly surprised when we found the vault and then a room with some nice skylights.

vault bedroom A84A0458_59_60_61_62_63_64_tonemapped vault

After flying in and picking up the rental car, Matt and Beth arrived at Charlie’s house around 3:30pm. We didn’t want to get stuck in the worst of traffic, so we took off to St Louis right away. We got there pretty late, but we ended up walking down to the Arch to meet with Charlie to hang and take a few pics. My friend Oliver, who lives in StL, said he’d be ready to go out around 10am, so we got up early to hit a couple locations before meeting up. We got to the first church pretty early, but it already seemed like it was 200 degrees outside. Nonetheless, we go in. The church looked like a bomb went off inside, ceiling exposed, graffiti and debris everywhere. The beautiful stained glass windows and some chandeliers were still in tact. Not a bad start to St Louis.

organ chandelier church altar pews rays

Right down the street was another big church, the inside of the main room glowing yellow from the stained glass. After exploring the church building, we noticed another building next door, so we went to check it out. It looked like a school that was affiliated with the church or something. Not too many photo ops, but it was interesting climbing up the makeshift stairs that were made from doors leaned up against the next floor.

church aisle above angle windows piano

I got text from Oliver saying he was heading to a school, but we were closing in on our check-out time for the hotel, so we ran back to check out of the hotel real quick before meeting up. Beth needed a few more minutes to get packed, so Matt stayed behind and Charlie and I headed off to meet Oliver. A quick shimmy across a window ledge and we’re in. Oliver said this was his favorite spot and it didn’t disappoint. We went straight to the gym and met with Jose, Joe, and Bri, then went our own ways throughout the building. It was so big, we hardly saw each other there after that.

doorway basement trophy case home ec yellow gym locker room auditorium lab room library

Oliver had to take his car to the shop, so he took off and we stayed behind to wait for his friend Tim. Matt and Beth decided to go back to the Airbnb in Chicago, so Charlie, Tim, and I finished at the school and met back up with everyone else at Guerrilla Streetfood for lunch. Next stop was an abandoned YMCA, which had a good gym and pool (which I didn’t get a shot of). After that, Charlie, Tim, and I tried a few other spots with no luck, then meet back up with Oliver, Larry, and Dmitrii at an abandoned school, where we were almost attacked by a dog. The school was huge and had plenty of areas to shoot, but my battery died and I found out that my backup was also dead. I was able to get a few shots in the auditorium and some graffiti, but no other shots from that place…

Y gym hallway bedroom disney auditorium art

Last location was an abandoned church. It was pretty obvious why it was called the “bird shit church” as soon as I walked in. The smell itself should deter any sane human being from entering that place, not to mention the mountains of bird shit covering everything. Regardless, it was a decent location. Basically one room, but it was good for a few shots until it started getting dark. Charlie and I had a long, 5 hour drive back to Chicago, so we drop Tim off at his couch and head back. Still three more days left…

church seating elevated entrance

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