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Pantera’s Pizza history

On Fridays, a lot of families order pizza to celebrate the weekend’s arrival. In the 80s, we often went out for pizza instead. And while for a lot of Gen Xers that meant Pizza Hut, it wasn’t the only game in town. In eastern Missouri, including St. Louis, the dominant pizza chain was Pantera’s. Let’s take a look back at Pantera’s Pizza and its history.

Pantera’s Pizza is a mostly defunct pizza chain that specialized in a 5-pound pizza it called The Hunk, and its commercials featured two characters named Betty and Mario, often containing the catchphrase, “What a hunk!” It was up to the viewer to decide whether Betty was referring to the pizza, Mario, or both.

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Crystal Palace, St Louis

The Crystal Palace in St Louis was a short-lived but legendary night club. It predated Gaslight Square, but moved west on Olive to join the up-and-coming district as it grew in popularity. The move benefited both. During its heyday on Gaslight Square, it was a combination saloon and 300-seat theater.

The Crystal Palace only operated for about 16 years, but it put St. Louis on the map, attracting national acts. Its mix of Victorian architecture, a cobblestone sidewalk, traditional lights, and antique decor inside is still widely imitated.

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City Hospital, St Louis

The Old City Hospital in St. Louis operated from 1845 to 1985. The present-day structure dates to 1896. Initially founded to deal with a severe cholera outbreak, the City of St. Louis owned and operated the hospital for nearly a century and a half.

Old City Hospital in St. Louis occupied five city blocks at the intersection of 14th and Lafayette Avenue. A public hospital serving the poor and uninsured, it had a capacity of approximately 1,100 beds.

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Gaslight Square, St. Louis

Gaslight Square was a popular arts and entertainment district in the St. Louis Central West End neighborhood whose heyday ran from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s. It was a three-block area near the intersection of Olive and Boyle, a mile or so north of what’s now the Cortex District. Today, suburban-style housing stands where the clubs and shops once stood. One business with a Gaslight Square connection remains, operating nearly three miles away.

Gaslight Square was a phenomenon, a widely cited example of urban redevelopment, born of a tornado, and extinguished by a highly publicized murder. Despite its best efforts, St. Louis has never replicated it.

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Homer G. Phillips Hospital, St. Louis

Homer G. Phillips hospital in St. Louis was a public hospital owned and operated by the city of St. Louis from 1937 to 1979. Between 1937 and 1955, when its hospitals were segregated, it was the only hospital for Blacks in St. Louis. It holds the distinction of being the first teaching hospital to serve Blacks west of the Mississippi River.

Homer G. Phillips hospital was named for a prominent lawyer who recognized the inadequacy of the existing Black hospital in St. Louis and led a campaign for a larger facility. It had 685 beds, stands at 2601 N. Whittier Street, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was largely vacant for 23 years but reopened as senior living apartments in 2003.

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Is St Louis dangerous?

Is St Louis dangerous? It’s a little more dangerous than places most people consider safe. But the dangers of St. Louis are at least slightly overblown, and they are certainly manageable.

St Louis crime rates are often reported in ways to make them sound larger than the actual risk. But beyond that, the rule in St Louis is that if you don’t go looking for trouble, trouble probably won’t find you.

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Charter Hospital / Charter Behavioral Health: A look back

A discussion with a couple of people who went to the same high school I did brought up a few dark topics from that era. One of them mentioned a place called “Charter.” I asked him if he meant Charter Hospital and/or Charter Behavioral Health.

He said yes. He didn’t know much else about it. It turns out the company still exists, though not under the same name and not under the same line of business. The Charter name and business model disappeared in 2000, even though the company who owned it still survives today.

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