St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on May 7, 1967 · Page 234
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 234

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St. Louis, Missouri
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Sunday, May 7, 1967
Page:
Page 234
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a a 0 Hiter Dark the Tempo Increases Along the Levee ly RICHARD M. JONES of PICTURES Staff 1 1 This riverfront is really coming back to life." says Frank Soucher. "It was a downhill drag for several years, but it started up again when the Arch was built." Soucher is captain of the excursion boat Huck Finn, one of four that cruise up or down the Mississippi from berths on the St. Louis levee. About three years ago, when the old-time river city atmos- phere was concentrated in Gaslight Square, evenings on the riverfront were relatively quiet. Now, however, the tempo there is fast and lively. ' On Friday and Saturday nights autos crowd the levee's cobblestone slope and line Wharf street when the river is high. North of Eads Bridge, the Old Levee House bar, with a reclaimed iron front and a resoundinq honky-tonk piano, does a brisk business under a railway trestle. On the levee across the street, the sternwheeler River Queen fills with patrons .of its large restaurant, dance deck and tavern. South of the bridge, the Goldenrod players entertain a showboat audience with melodramas that draw a chorus of good-natured catcalls, while a ragtime band that would be the envy of Alexander plays to a packed room a stair's length from the floating theater. A few yards downstream the Becky Thatcher II (formerly the steamboat Mississippi) sits at anchorage, dark and still, but by Phetei by ARTHUR WITMAN summer its owners expect to open a cocktail lounge and restaurant on its second and third decks and a steamboat museum on the first level. The museum will feature an "engine room," "wheel house," "boiler room" and gift shop. The original Becky Thatcher sank in April, 1965, after listing badly in low water and filling up when the river rose a month later. A year earlier, it had housed the only night spot on the levee a floating bar once known as the Yacht Club. On a landing next to it was the burned-out hulk of the Goldenrod Showboat, which had been closed after a fire in 1962. The showboat had been a local institution since 1937. Then, in 1965, Frank Pierson, Don Franz and several associates reopened the Goldenrod, resumed its famed melodramas and brought in Franz's Ragtimers. To some extent entertainment thrives on the riverfront because of the quaint, picturesque atmosphere along Wharf street, now accessible and well-paved. But the boom is based on more than that. The promise of the nearby Gateway Arch as a tourist attraction is luring more and more capital and enterprise to the levee. Says Frank Pierson, "Someday the Arch will be the biggest single factor in the success of this place." of the PICTURES Staff 2 PICTURES St. Louis Post-Ditpatch, Sunday, May 7, 1967

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