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Thursday, May 7, 2020

Vintage Photo From the Admiral Shows the St. Louis Showboat in Stunning Detail

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2020 at 5:00 PM

click to enlarge A dance recital during the 1970s in the Admiral's ballroom. - GINNY BLAKEMORE
  • GINNY BLAKEMORE
  • A dance recital during the 1970s in the Admiral's ballroom.

This recently unearthed photo of the Admiral shows the excursion vessel's true beauty.

The boat was a fixture on the St. Louis riverfront downtown by the Arch for decades. It had a long and varied life with generations of locals visiting it for different purposes — and its style always impressed.



This photo was shot, developed and printed by Ginny Blakemore, and it captures an elaborate dance recital inside the Admiral sometime in the early 1970s.

The Admiral first launched in 1907 (just three years after St. Louis' famous World's Fair), and she didn't retire until 1979.

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During her time on the water, the Admiral wore many faces. She began her life as a ferry for heavy vehicles and rail cars, but in the 1930s, she was restyled as an excursion boat and was dressed from bow to stern in art deco design courtesy of Mazie Krebs, a fashion illustrator for Famous-Barr.

The Admiral started taking St. Louisans on cruises from the waterfront in 1940, and they were impressed with her 4,400-person capacity and her glamorous interior, which included air conditioning, a cafeteria, a soda jerk, a cavernous ballroom and a powder room styled after Greta Garbo.

Though she was eventually sold for scrap in 2011, the Admiral saw much of American history. From petticoats to flappers to hippies to disco, this boat witnessed it all in her long life and she just kept floating. We should all be so lucky.

Email the author at jaime.lees@riverfronttimes.com
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