Fantasyland

by Michael R. Allen

The Fantasyland on Illinois Route 3 in Brooklyn once held two strip club stages, many video viewing rooms and a “health spa.” In a small city whose center seems to have a church on every corner not occupied by a strip club, Fantasyland was the biggest of the non-religious operations. Then it closed at some point in the first few years of the 21st century. In 2007, there was a fire that started the damage shown above (See “Driving to Granite City”, September 30, 2007).

Two years later, surprisingly, the burned out, collapsing hulk still stands. The sign out front advertising a “health spa and rubs” is even still standing. Meanwhile, a convenience store across the street, opened in 2005, already is out of business. Once, the gigantic adult facility proclaimed the luster of roadside fantasy, but now the building and its remaining sign have a different message. The crumbling hulk is not far from the decaying remains of the National City stockyards, and the landscape in that stretch is a bit of unwanted fantasy — the dwindling traces of long-gone industrial employment, the failure of even the marginal “adult entertainment” industry and the glimmering St. Louis skyline at night showcasing the glowing Lumiere Place casino. Life out of balance, or just the reality of the tenuous state of the inner ring of metro east cities?

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