Chutes and Ladders

Phoebe Connelly

A missive from the 2005 National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis Missouri…The conference began with a pre-party hosted by KDHX, a local community media organization. Ten dollars at the door got you into the oddest museum I've visited yet. Half collage of post-industrial materials, half welder's Chuck E. Cheese, the City Museum is a four-storey immersion into texture. Staircases are constructed of dowels, walls are tiled with old printing blocks or built of glass bottles. The floors are connected via caves you may or may not fit into which tend to dump you Alice-like into the most unexpected places.The exterior is built-out with cage-like tunnels leading to a castle, two planes suspended in air and a (if you're brave) a tubular metal cage-tunnel arcing (several storeys) over it all. It is not an idle threat when they say: We highly recommend that sneakers or closed-toe, closed heel shoes are worn in the museum. Sandals/flip flops are strongly discouraged. Footwear must be worn at all times.To live vicariously, check out photos here.More searching turned up the possibility of living there, with these details about the space: …originally built in 1930 as a shoe manufacturing factory/warehouse…the building was the hub of activity for what was once the largest shoe manufacturer in the world. The Guinness Book of Records' tallest man, Robert Wadlow, the Alton Giant, was once the company's spokesperson. The celebrated writer, Tennessee William, worked in the factory while composing the Glass Menagerie. Adapted to a new vision in 1993, sculptor Bob Cassilly has spent over 10 years transforming the building into a multi-use destination…Worth seeing without the excuse of media reform, it's open Wednesday through Sunday.

Phoebe Connelly, a former managing editor at In These Times, is Web Editor at The American Prospect.
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