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University of Missouri

St. Louis Welcomes You

A new mural is in the works for the St. Louis waterfront.

Tom Nagel

Tom Nagel is managing a project to decorate the east façade of the Cotton Belt Freight Depot in St. Louis. Photo courtesy of Tom Nagel.

For generations of St. Louisans of drinking age, the phrase “going down to the waterfront” meant heading to nightclubs located just west of the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis near the Gateway Arch. But for Tom Nagel, BJ ’11, the waterfront he knows — scant blocks from those clubs — refers partly to a natural setting where he collects driftwood and cuts flowers to display in his home. Since high school, he has explored the grounds of the Cotton Belt Freight Depot at 1400 N. First St. Nagel has led an effort to decorate the east façade of the 1911 building, which joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The empty structure, 751 feet long by 82 feet tall, is visible to St. Louis-bound travelers on the new Mississippi River Bridge two blocks away. In April 2013, local civic organizations awarded him most of the $23,000 he plans to use for the project. At press time, Nagel was weighing options for artists and media to create the image, so stay tuned. “It’s a fun and exciting spot,” he says. “But it’s an undiscovered part of the city.”