From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Superman's Hometown: Metropolis, Illinois

Life in The Upper South... History and Old Stuff...



Superman outside the Massac County CourthouseSuperman guards the Massac County Courthouse.

We were in Paducah, Kentucky, today and we drove the short distance across the river and up to Metropolis, Illinois, so Isaac could go to the Superman Store. He has been grieving for about a year now that he lost his Superman winter hat that he bought there last time.

Metropolis, Illinois, just north of the Ohio River on Interstate 24, was officially granted the title of "Superman's Hometown" by DC Comics in 1972. They could hardly deny the honor to Metropolis because it is the only city in the US with that name and in the Superman comic books, Clark Kent lived in the city of Metropolis.


The Superman Store at Metropolis, ILThe Superman Store in Metropolis, Illinois.

Inside the Superman StoreInside the Superman Store

When you walk into the Superman Store, you notice immediately that it's very blue inside -- Superman blue, that is. The store is full of Superman memorabilia of all sorts: comic books, posters, costumes, t-shirts, hats, key chains, lunch boxes, dolls, and much, much more. Isaac bought a visor that has a Superman emblem on it.

A Superman Museum adjoins the Superman Store, but it was closed. I have never been in it, but Isaac has, and he says it is chock full of all sorts of Superman memorabilia. The clerk told us that the owner has the largest Superman Collection in the USA and that only a portion of it is on display in the Superman Museum.

Isaac and Clark KentIsaac and mild-mannered Clark Kent

Across the street, a huge Superman stands on the town square, guarding the Masac County Courthouse. The motto on the statue's base, "Truth - Justice - The American Way," is appropriate for a center of local law and justice. Isaac agreed to pose with the big guy. He also posed with Clark Kent but he refused to stand behind the headless cutout of Superman or beside Betty Boop. He was finished with photographic nonsense.

On the opposite side of the courthouse, two of the largest maple trees I've ever seen grow on the lawn. I tried to stretch my arms around the smaller one to estimate its girth, and I am sure it is more than 12 feet around. A small white haired lady who was smoking on the courthouse steps observed my tree-hug without emotion. I'm sure the folks in Metropolis are used to the strange things tourists do.


Entrance to Harrah's Riverboat CasinoRiverboat casino entrance at Metropolis

Harrah's Riverboat Casino is probably a bigger attraction in Metropolis than Superman, sad to say. It has a large facility and extensive parking lots along the Ohio River's banks, a half dozen blocks from the courthouse.

It would be interesting to know how much clear profit from the casino has actually been realized by the city of Metropolis. I suppose it has brought some jobs to the town, but there has surely been a considerable expense in infrastructure and law enforcement as well as a loss of peace and quiet.

Harrahs even has buses that go to various towns (including Hopkinsville) to transport people to the casino. I suspect there's a two-fold motive. It does provide safe transportation to people who have drunk too much, and it also provides a way for people to get to the boat and gamble even if they don't have a vehicle they can drive there.

Bed and Breakfast, Metropolis, ILThe Isle-of-View Bed and Breakfast

Metropolis seems to have an awakening interest in preservation and restoration. As in many towns in this area, some of the biggest old buildings in Metropolis were built between 1885 and 1900. I saw signs in some of their windows that said something about a downtown preservation group. An attractive old home near the river has been made into the Isle-of-View bed-and-breakfast.


Fort Massac State ParkFort Massac State Park

Just a short distance up the river on the outskirts of Metropolis, Fort Massac State Park offers nice picnic and camping facilities. (Bring squirrel proof containers -- the park is full of those little critters.) The reconstructed fort is the jewel of the park and it represents far more history than I can go into here.

If you ever pass through southern Illinois on I-24, I recommend Metropolis as an interesting place to spend a few hours of tourist time. And of course, Paducah, Kentucky is right across the river and it's also an interesting place to visit, so you might want to get a room and spend the night.

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UPDATE
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I have posted a few more photos from Metropolis.

7 comments:

Kelvin said...

Kia Ora (Hello) from a blogger down under in New Zealand. A very super blog, especially "super" man. I hope you don't mind if I mention your blog on my blog - 21 21 21 Great blogs to read.

Genevieve said...

I would be greatly honored to represent a bit of America's heartland on your list of blogs. :)

Limey said...

Just thought I would bore you with my 'Superman' story. I had a friend who worked at Pinewood studios where Superman was being filmed, and as I did a tour of the studios I found myself walking along the main street in 'Metropolis'. I also went onto one of their sound stages and found myself in the Fortress of Solitude, Superman's north pole hideaway (Mainly polystyrene and perspex). Unfortunately I never got to see any of the cast. Told you it was boring.

Sarabeth said...

I really like this post.

I've had my meditative moment for the day.

Genevieve said...

I like your Superman story, Limey. :)

Sarabeth, your kids would enjoy seeing the big Superman and I'm sure they would find something they wanted in the Superman Store. :D

I'm amused at the photos with Superman. My favorite is the one with Clark Kent. Isaac looks as if he's having fun but hopes no one will see him. :D

Trixie said...

That's exactly the look on his face! LOL! What a great tour today. I should go out with my camera for a while today and see if I can offer anything nearly as interesting. It's been a while since I did an "adventure" post.

Neurotic Mom said...

Looks like you guys had fun.

Greats posts as usual.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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