W e were told not to go to St. Louis, especially not East St. Louis. The most interesting motel in the area, however, was the Indian Mound Motel, located in what is technically Fairmont City, Ill., near East St. Louis.

IMG 6476 300x300 Indian Mound Motel    East St. Louis, IL

While St. Louis belongs to Missouri and lies west of the Mississippi River, East St. Louis is part of Illinois. It has lost one third of its population since the 1950s, currently holding less than 30,000 residents.

Scarred by racism and the absence of industry, much of East St. Louis is blighted. It is frequently declared the most dangerous city in America. Most of the bars and clubs we passed were shut down, many of them due to reports of violence.

IMG 6477 300x300 Indian Mound Motel    East St. Louis, IL

But as strange and desolate as East St. Louis by night seems, there are some interesting surrounding towns. Fairmont City is one of them.

Fairmont City has a population of less than 3000, predominantly Hispanic. The city is built atop the Cahokia mounds, which explains the name of the motel. Eighty of the original 120 mounds remain today, along with a number of remnants of roadside Americana.

IMG 6453 300x224 Indian Mound Motel    East St. Louis, IL

The Indian Mound Motel itself is rather ordinary. An orange cat patrols the dumpster, the rooms smell faintly of stale cigarette smoke but are clean, and it’s extraordinarily quiet.

IMG 6449 300x224 Indian Mound Motel    East St. Louis, IL

If there are many murders here, they’re probably in the pool…

IMG 6451 300x224 Indian Mound Motel    East St. Louis, IL

It also had a pretty sweet toilet. Kinda mismatched, but extended for… I don’t know.

IMG 6446 224x300 Indian Mound Motel    East St. Louis, IL

Another town in the East St. Louis area is a small village of about 700 called Brooklyn (sometimes Lovejoy). Originally founded by free and escaped slaves in 1892, Brooklyn now consists predominantly of adult entertainment. Seventy-five percent of the total income of Brooklyn comes from an odd cluster of strip clubs someone on FourSquare has named “Whore Alley.”

IMG 6466 300x224 Indian Mound Motel    East St. Louis, ILPink Slip, Club Flirt, Bottoms Up, PT’s, Roxy’s, Peek-A-Boo share space with a restaurant called Chicken in a Box and a barbecue shack.

IMG 6463 224x300 Indian Mound Motel    East St. Louis, ILAn additional two strip clubs have closed after being devastated by fires. Oddly enough, the nearby Little Bo Peep’s is NOT a strip club, but rather, a preschool academy.

 


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