Friday, 16 September 2011

St. Louis Downtown Running Route

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Length: 5.6 km (3.5 miles), terrain flat

For other running routes, see Route List.

View from Arch: courthouse with Market Street
If you're staying in downtown St. Louis, here is a short route taking you past the most interesting sights. And what's more interesting than the Gateway Arch? So we'll start there, at the banks of the Mississippi. From there, we'll run a little loop along the Mississippi, Lacleades Landing, the City Museum and then back along the Gateway Mall down Market Street.

The Arch Entrance
We'll start the run at the corner of Memorial Drive and Market Street, with the Arch rising up straight ahead. There is a footpath leading straight ahead into Gateway Park, curving around the arch to the right.

Follow the path as it curves southwards, going uphill through the park. Turn around at the top of the hill and head north towards the arch again. Stop to touch and examine the stainless steel arch: this is an amazing structure. Built in the 1960s after 2 decades of planning, the arch is 192 meters in height and width. The hyperbolic shape was designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen.

In Gateway Park
Now, run past the arch and then up the hill at the north end of the park. Where the park ends, turn right and head down the steps to the road below along the riverfront. This area was once lined with hundreds of riverboats loading and unloading their cargos and passengers along the banks of the Mississippi. That era died suddenly when the railroads were built out west through Chicago, and the St. Louis riverfront has been abandoned ever since.

Run under the old railroad bridge and then turn left on Lucas Avenue to run up along the converted warehouses in Lacleade's Landing. This is an area of old warehouses converted into restaurants and clubs.

Pub at Lacleade's Landing
Turn right on N Second Street, at the wax museum and run by the Morgan Street Brewery pub, then turn left on Lacleade's Landing to cross under the I-70 overpass to N. 4th Street. Here you turn left and run to Washington Avenue, where you turn right to run westwards through the downtown.

Along Washington Street
Run all the way out past Flannery's Irish Pub on 14th Street. At 15th Street, turn right and run the one block to Lucas Avenue, then turn left to run by what I consider the coolest spot on the entire planet: the City Museum.

In the City Museum "MonstroCity" Courtyard
The City Museum is more a gigantic playground than museum, with climbing bars and slides and all kinds of fascinating objects to explore: airplanes suspended in mid-air, a school bus perched on the edge of the roof, a rooftop ferris wheel, and a 10-storey system of slides through the converted shoe factory.

Up on the City Museum rooftop
You can run through the front courtyard, called MonstroCity, which has been turned into a giant climbing area between various fantasy towers, a fire-truck and two suspended airplanes. The log cabin now used as a refreshment stand was once the home of Daniel Boone's son.

The museum is the product of St. Louis artist Bob Cassilly, and their motto is "where imagination runs wild", which is definitely no overstatement. All the objects used were found within St. Louis.

Market Street at City Hall
After staring wide-eyed at this place for a while, you'll have to get going again: this time turning south on N. 16th Street and running 5 blocks to Market Street in the center of downtown. Market Street is lined with a park, the Gateway Mall, the whole way back to the Gateway Arch.

When you reach Market Street, turn left and run back the last kilometer to the arch, passing the veterans' memorial, opera house, the city hall, and then the domed courthouse before finding yourself back at the huge arc rising in front of you at Memorial Drive.

NOTE: Just one block to the south (right) of Market Street, at 8th Street, you can find Busch Stadium, if you feel like adding a little extension to the run.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Downtown New York Running Route

Length: 4.7 km (2.9 miles), terrain flat

New York Running Routes:
Best New York Running Routes: Overview 
Greenwich Village  
Midtown and Central Park 

Riverside Park  
For other running routes, see Route List.

Any trip to New York has to include a tour of downtown NYC, and what better way to do it than a good run through the main sights. There is a beautiful, park-lined waterfront, Ground-Zero, and the city's most historic buildings.
Ground Zero Memorial days before the opening
Downtown NYC is the site of the original Dutch settlement at the mouth of the Hudson. Wall Street really did have a wooden wall back then, to protect the town from attacks from the north. So if you are ready to tackle this interesting New York neighborhood with your running shoes, let's go!

We'll start out at the Ground-Zero World Trade Center site. This site is still being built upon, so it will continue to change in the next years. The centrally-placed memorial with the fountains plunging into the foundations of the old WTC buildings just opened, as of my last visit.

The Downtown NYC Running Route
The route begins at the corner of Liberty Street and Greenwich. This borders on the construction site of new buildings going up along the east side of Ground Zero, where you can view across the site to the memorial on the other side. This is also the location of the impromptu memorial to the NYC firemen who lost their lives at the 9/11 attack, set up on the side of the fire station closest to the site. There are normally flowers placed on the sidewalk and patches from visiting firemen and policemen from around the world.

Firemen cleaning up firemen's memorial
Now run south along Greenwich, along the Ground Zero site until the next corner at Albany Street, where you turn right (westwards) and run along the construction fence. Keep running west, crossing busy West Street. On the other side of the street, there is a big new development of nice apartment buildings on tree-lined streets. Run straight to the water of the Hudson River.

The waterfront Esplanade is also tree-lined: a pleasant stretch with views out to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the gleaming new buildings of Jersey City across the way.
Along the Esplanade
NOTE: You could also run northwards here for awhile, going past North Cove Marina and Penny Park, if you want to add some more distance to this route.

Now run southwards towards Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan. You'll run along a cove, with the Statue of Liberty off in the distance. You'll also pass the pyramid-shaped Holocaust Museum.

Esplanade at South Cove
The path ends for a short time at historic Pier A, being restored at the moment, with it's old-fashioned bell tower. Just run past the pier, along the left side, and then turn right, into the first path into Battery Park. You will see the stone fortress of Castle Clinton ahead. This fort, also known as Castle Garden, was used to process new immigrants until Ellis Island was built in the 1890s. It's now used as the landing for the Liberty Island ferry.
Castle Clinton in Battery Park
Keep running past the fort along the water. This takes you by the World War II Navy Memorial till Battery Park ends at the Staten Island Ferry building.

Run northwards along South Street for another block. Now cross the street to the left at Broad Street and run to the first corner, at the Fraunces Tavern. George Washington held a farewell party for his officers in this historic tavern.
Old Buildings along Stone Street, off of Pearl Street
Turn right on Pearl Street and run 2 blocks to Hannover Square. The English-style garden in the square was donated by the British to the American people.

Now turn left and run the 2 blocks along William Street to Wall Street, as the street curves to the right.

Wall Street with Federal Hall and Trinity Church
At Wall Street, turn left and run past Federal Hall on your right (site of George Washington's inauguration) and the New York Stock Exchange on your left. Wall Street actually was a wooden wall at one time, and marked the north edge of town.

Wall Street ends at Trinity Church, one of New York's most interesting buildings, with its old graveyard. Just running by the graveyard, I saw the graves of Alexander Hamilton and Samuel Fulton (Fulton built the first steam ships and the first submarine).

At this point, we are almost back at the starting point, but let's do a short extra loop to add a few interesting downtown sights.

Turn right on Broadway, in front of Trinity Church. In a couple of blocks you will pass St. Paul's chapel on the left side. This chapel was built for the people who lived north of the wall. George Washington went here to pray, it is said. The church also became the main sanctuary for Ground Zero rescue workers, and has become an impromptu memorial to the victims.

NY City Hall Park seen from porch of St. Paul's
In one more block, you will see a triangular park, City Hall Park, opening up on the right side. Run into the park, which is the commons in front of the old town hall, built in 1810. And on the left side of the park you can see the gothic Woolworth's skyscraper looming up, the tallest building in the world when it was built in 1913.

When you get to the city hall, turn left and exit the park, which is bounded by Broadway on the left side. Now, turn left and run back southwest down Broadway, past St. Paul's again, until you get to Liberty Street, where you turn right and run the last 2 blocks back along Zuccotti Park (location of the Occupy Wall Street encampment) until you reach the starting point again.