ST. LOUIS — "There used to be over 400 water towers in the United States," Brian Temple said. "Now, there are seven, and St. Louis is home to three of them."
One of the three, the Bissell Street Water Tower, is photographed from multiple angles and displayed on the pages of the hardcover book Temple flipped through Sunday afternoon.
Perched on a chair in his North St. Louis kitchen, 27-year-old Temple soaks in each image splattered across the pages as if he's seeing them for the first time. However, the photos in the book are more than just familiar, they're his.
"The goal of the book is to talk about things that we maybe see all the time but highlight it where we learn more about the city," Temple said. "Maybe that will inspire someone to explore more about the city and visit these places"
"Product of STL" is a hardcover photo book showcasing images of some of St. Louis's most iconic sites like the giant Amoco sign and the Vess soda bottle that welcomes drivers heading into downtown. However, the book also features images of the city that could otherwise be overlooked if you didn't know where they were there...like the graffiti wall that sits on the riverfront.
Each image is accompanied by an excerpt explaining the history and significance of the photo.
"It's just kind of like a nostalgic feeling, like a moment in time," Temple said.
Temple grew up in the Penrose neighborhood in North City. Crime statistics provided by St. Louis Police show the neighborhood is in the city's top five when ranked by the number of homicides for the year. The statistics also show that for the past five years, including 2019, more than half of the homicides in St. Louis happened in North City.
However, Temple said those numbers don't tell the entire story of the city he loves.
"I grew up on a block that was actually one of the more quiet blocks," Temple said. "I'm very proud of where I'm from. Of course, in all neighborhoods, there are things to work on. Hopefully, next year, we can lower those numbers."
Temple went to school for architecture in Kansas and brought his talents back to St. Louis.
"I think my neighborhood, you know, made me what I am today," Temple said. "Giving back to the community where we're from is very important to us, so living in North City now is a no-brainer."
The images in "Product of STL" were taken all over the city, including some featured sites in North St. Louis.
If you would like to order a copy of the book or learn more about next month's book signing, you can head to Temple's website here.