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Southwestern Bell: 1930

St. Louis, Missouri, circa 1930. "Southwestern Bell Telephone Building, Pine Street." Gelatin silver print by American Commercial Photographers. View full size.

St. Louis, Missouri, circa 1930. "Southwestern Bell Telephone Building, Pine Street." Gelatin silver print by American Commercial Photographers. View full size.


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A sore thumb

On the left about 13 floors up, did a small plane attempt to rearrange the façade? The whole building looks like it had a lot of early (Stalin-esque) photoshop swipes done to it. Or maybe King Kong wasn't done yet.

[It's workers on a scaffold. They seem to be giving the building a bath. - Dave]

First comments

The earliest comments here are pretty spot on. That is, indeed, an ugly pile. and the quiet streets being the product of airbrushing is noteworthy. It failed to go on and tell everyone that the building should have been "airbrushed out of existence" as well. I'd rather look at the chicken slaughter photos from a while ago.

A Grown Up Fort

All I can say is that the Architect(s) most likely built forts out of cardboard when they were younger.

The Ugly-Ass Building

is still there surviving the zombie apocalypse and every single one of the Cardinals' 11 World Series championship celebrations.

Much better on the inside

It's lovely once you step inside the lobby.

Another name for the building might have been:

Fort Phone.


I see ropes hanging from several of the pylons and some of the areas of the building seem to be cleaner than others. There's a crew working off a scaffold toward the middle left of the photo and the area above them seems to have been scrubbed recently. They do windows, and maybe walls, too?


The entire building has been replaced by a six-year-old PC running an outdated version of Windows.

I took a tour of such a building several decades ago and remember two things -- the operators sitting at their stations in a large room and engineers on the top floor monitoring all the TV and radio microwave traffic from New York being sent, by wire, to the local stations.

Too late to spin it around

The gothic Southwestern Bell building faces Pine Street, between 10th and 11th Streets. In the 1930 photograph there are much smaller, nondescript buildings around it and on the block behind it. Today, the Pine Street side is the same. But the back side of the building (facing Chestnut Street) has become the attractive side for this Gotham City fortress to face. The Serra Sculpture Park is across Chestnut, and adjoining parks lay to the east. Wisely, the smaller, nondescript buildings behind the Southwestern Bell (AT&T) building have been cleared and there is a nice plaza leading to the back door.

The future looms

In 1984, as AT&T was “broken up”, Southwestern Bell Telephone (now one of AT&T’s ‘Baby Bells’) moved out of this landmark into the new AT&T Tower—constructed literally one minute’s walk away.

Not long after, the company moved its headquarters to San Antonio, and in 2017 it vacated the Tower, which is still vacant and still looms over the Southwestern Bell building.

Gotta Say - Part II

De gustibus non disputandum est. That is one majestic-looking building. I love it. Just looked it up on Google maps and it's still there and its still occupied by Southwestern Bell and it's still majestic as ever.

Pretty quiet day on the streets of St. Louis

I'd speculate this was after the zombie apocalypse, except in fact the Cards won the pennant that year.

[Note that the wheels of the car around the corner to the right have been airbrushed out of existence. Probably along with the rest of the streetscape, including sidewalk and pedestrians. - Dave]

Gotta say

... that is one ugly-ass building.

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