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Best View of Downtown St. Louis 2002 - Poplar Street Bridge, 4:30 a.m.

The city in its splendor is meant to be viewed from the east looking west. And even with the spectrum reduced by half, there are still plenty of awesome outlooks. Coming in on I-64 just before the juncture of I-55, you go over a rise and, suddenly, there she is, shimmering in the sun like El Dorado. Seeing the towering edifices framed by the Arch, well, it makes you feel a bit proud. From the summit of Monk's Mound, the greatest of the mounds at Cahokia and a very spiritual place, we see downtown from a northeastern vantage, off some ten miles in the distance, an homage to steel and glass where once stood only earthen mounds built by the toil of indigenous peoples, our predecessors in this valley.

But the best view of our fair city is on the Poplar Street Bridge, returning from a late-night/early-morning foray at any of our finer East Side establishments. You leave Sauget bleary-eyed and woozy, and before you know it -- wake up! -- you're cruising the Poplar over the Mississippi, and St. Louis looms on your right: the floating casino, lit like a tiki hut, the stolid dignity of the Old Cathedral, the comforting lights of the Landing and, yes, Saarinen's wonder, the big, beautiful Arch, greeting you with open arms as if to say, "Welcome home, wayward traveler, welcome home!"

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