Elements of Urbanism: Neighborhoods of St. Louis

August 26, 2010 7 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville explores a number of urban neighborhoods in and around the City of St. Louis.

Tale of the Tape:

St. Louis Population 2009: 356,587 (City); 2,828,990 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1822)

Jacksonville Pop. 2009: 813,518 (City); 1,328,144 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)

City population 1950: Jacksonville (204,517); St. Louis (856,796)

City Land Area

St. Louis: 61.90 square miles
Jacksonville: 757.7 square miles

Metropolitan Area Growth rate (2000-2009)

St. Louis: +4.83%
Jacksonville: +18.29%

Urban Area Population (2000 census)

St. Louis: 2,077,662 (ranked 17 nationwide)
Jacksonville: 882,295 (ranked 43 nationwide)

Urban Area Population Density (2000 census)

St. Louis: 2,506.4
Jacksonville: 2,149.2

City Population Growth from 2000 to 2008

St. Louis: +8,398
Jacksonville: +72,312

Convention Center Exhibition Space:

St. Louis: America's Center (1977) - 162,313 square feet
Jacksonville: Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center (1985) - 78,500 square feet

Connected to Convention Center:

St. Louis: Renaissance Grand - 875 units  
Jacksonville: N/A

Tallest Building:

St. Louis: Gateway Arch - 630 feet, One Metropolitan Square - 593 feet
Jacksonville: Bank of America Tower - 617 feet


Fortune 500 companies 2009 (City limits only):

St. Louis: Express Scripts (96), Emerson Electric (117), Monsanto (197), Ameren (320), Charter Communications (332), Peabody Energy (346), Graybar Electric (470), Centene (486)
Jacksonville: CSX (259), Winn-Dixie (306), Fidelity National Financial (366)


Urban infill obstacles:

St. Louis: Downtown is cut off from waterfront and nearby neighborhoods by freeways and railyards.
Jacksonville: State & Union Streets cut off Downtown Jacksonville from Springfield.


Downtown Nightlife:

St. Louis: Washington Avenue, Laclede's Landing
Jacksonville: East Bay Street


Common Downtown Albatross:

Surface parking lots.

Who's Downtown is more walkable?

St. Louis: 98 out of 100, according to walkscore.com, 8th and Pine Streets, St. Louis as keyword
Jacksonville: 88 out of 100, according to walkscore.com

Visual Information

Green = Jacksonville's city limits (current urban core) before consolidation in 1968
Red = Jacksonville's current consolidated city-county limits

Jacksonville's current (Red) and original (Green) city limit boundaries over St. Louis' land area (Blue).

Urban St. Louis

Central West End

The Central West End is an affluent neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri, stretching from Midtown's western edge to Union Boulevard and bordering on Forest Park with its outstanding array of free cultural institutions. It includes the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (the New Cathedral) on Lindell Boulevard at Newstead Avenue, which houses the largest collection of mosaics in the world. The Central West End is represented by three Alderman as it sits partially in the 17th, 18th, and 28th Wards.

The CWE's commercial district is mainly along Euclid Avenue and stretches from Forest Park Parkway on the south to Delmar Boulevard on the north. Restaurants are primarily clustered in the Euclid/McPherson area, the Euclid/Laclede area and in Maryland Plaza. Unusual, elaborate turn-of-the-century lamp posts and cobblestone streets add to the atmosphere of this neighborhood which first grew in popularity with the coming of the 1904 World's Fair which was held in adjacent Forest Park.

The Delmar Loop

The Delmar Loop is an entertainment, cultural and restaurant district in St. Louis, Missouri and University City, Missouri. Most of its attractions are located in the streetcar suburb of University City, but the area is expanding eastward into the Skinker-Debaliviere Neighborhood of the City of St. Louis proper. In 2007, the American Planning Association named the Delmar Loop "One of the 10 Great Streets in America."[1]

The area gets its name from a streetcar turnaround, or loop, formerly located in the area.[2] Most of the attractions are on Delmar Boulevard, a major east-west thoroughfare that continues east to downtown St. Louis. A MetroLink station is at the east side of the area. There are plans to build a 2.2-mile trolley line from the Loop to the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park.

Major Loop institutions include: the Community Music School, owned by Washington University in St. Louis; the Craft Alliance, noted for its pottery studios and classes; the Riverfront Times; Vintage Vinyl; The Pageant Concert Nightclub; Tivoli Theater; Cicero's Italian Restaurant & Entertainment Venue; Fitz's Restaurant and Bottling Company; Star Clipper, the Eisner Award-winning comic book store; Brandt's Cafe and Red Carpet Lounge; Headz n Threadz clothing shop; the Melting Pot fondue restaurant; and Blueberry Hill, a pub and restaurant that served as the engine for the revival of the Loop beginning in the 1970s.

The Loop is the home of the St. Louis Walk of Fame, a series of brass plaques embedded in the sidewalk along Delmar Boulevard commemorating famous St. Louisans, including musicians Chuck Berry, Miles Davis and Tina Turner, John Goodman, Sheryl Crow, bridge-builder James Eads and sexologists Masters and Johnson.

Forest Park

Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri, opened in 1876 and the former site of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, (better known as "The World's Fair") is one of the large urban landscape parks created during the later 19th century, following the example of Central Park in New York City. At 1,293 acres (5.2 km), Forest Park is over 50% larger than New York's Central Park (843 acres or 3.41 km).

In 1904 St. Louis hosted the world at a major international World's Fair. The St. Louis World's Fair celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. It was delayed from a planned opening in 1903 to 1904 to allow for full-scale participation by more states and foreign countries. The Fair opened April 30, 1904, and closed December 1, 1904. Of notable interest is that St. Louis had held an annual Saint Louis Exposition (1884) since the 1880s as agricultural, trade, and scientific exhibitions, but this event was not held in 1904 due to the World's Fair.

The Fair's 1,200 acre (4.9 km) site, designed by George Kessler [4], was located at the present-day grounds of Forest Park and on the campus of Washington University, and was the largest fair to date. There were over 1,500 buildings, connected by some 75 miles (120 km) of roads and walkways. It was said to be impossible to give even a hurried glance at everything in less than a week. The Palace of Agriculture alone covered some 20 acres (324,000 m).

Exhibits were staged by 62 foreign nations, the United States government, and 43 of the then-45 U.S. states. These featured industries, cities, private organizations and corporations, theater troupes, and music schools. There were also over 50 concession-type amusements found on "The Pike"; they provided educational and scientific displays, exhibits and imaginary 'travel' to distant lands, history and local boosterism (including Louis Wollbrinck's "Old St. Louis") and pure entertainment.

During the Exposition, the park played host to the diving, swimming, and water polo events for the 1904 Summer Olympics.

After the fair, many of the pavilions and exhibits were demolished (including the original Ferris Wheel) or removed. What buildings remain became the seeds of future museums. The aviary gave root to the zoo, for example. The Palace of the Fine Arts became the Saint Louis Art Museum.

The Hill

The Hill is a mostly Italian-American neighborhood within St. Louis, Missouri, located on high ground south of Forest Park. The official boundaries of the area are Manchester Avenue (Route 100) on the north, Columbia and Southwest Avenues on the south, South Kingshighway Boulevard on the east, and Hampton Avenue on the west.

Its name is due to its proximity to the highest point of the city, formerly named St. Louis Hill, which is a few blocks south, at the intersection of Arsenal Street and Sublette Avenue, around 3836′22.12″N 9016′53.1″W / 38.6061444N 90.281417W / 38.6061444; -90.281417 (38.6061440, -90.2814178). The intersection borders Sublette Park, the former site of the Social Evil Hospital built there in 1873.

Italians, mainly from northern Italy and Sicily, immigrated and settled in the area starting in the late 19th century, attracted by jobs in nearby plants established to exploit deposits of clay discovered by immigrants in the 1830s.

With the growth of Italian immigration came the growth in the influence of the Roman Catholic Church such that the Parish of Our Lady, Help of Christians, was founded in the downtown area of St. Louis in 1900 to serve primarily recent Sicilian immigrants, while the Parish of St. Ambrose was founded in what later came to be known as the Hill in 1903 to serve primarily the recent northern Italian immigrants. By the time the new church of St. Ambrose was built in 1926, the Parish had already been a force in the area for over 20 years. The structure is modeled after Sant'Ambrogio Church in Milan, in an Lombard-Romanesque style of brick and terra cotta. It became the parish church for the area in 1955, after 30 years of focusing on those of Italian heritage. When Our Lady, Help of Christians, Parish closed in 1975, St. Ambrose became the center of Catholic life among many Italian-Americans in the St. Louis area.

That heritage remains evident today. As of May 2003, about three-quarters of the residents are Italian-Americans, helped perhaps by the practice of rarely listing homes on the open market [2] The neighborhood is home to a large number of locally renowned Italian-American restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, salons, and two bocce gardens.

Lafayette Square

Lafayette Square is a neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri that is bounded on the north by Chouteau Avenue, on the south by Interstate 44, on the east by Truman Parkway and on the west by South Jefferson Avenue. It surrounds Lafayette Park, which is the city's oldest public park, created by ordinance in 1836. The neighborhood is one of the oldest in St. Louis. When the neighborhood was developed, it was one of the most fashionable in St. Louis. The neighborhood declined after a tornado devastated the area in 1896. Later industrial encroachment and highway construction further weakened the neighborhood. Since the 1970's, residents have been buying and renovating the older homes in the neighborhood. As of 2006, most of the homes have been restored and the neighborhood is home to many shops and restaurants.

Midtown St. Louis

Midtown St. Louis is one of the 79 neighborhoods of St. Louis, Missouri. It is just south of the theatre district of St. Louis. With the Fox Theatre, the Sheldon Concert Hall, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra all nearby, it has been at times described as the second downtown of St. Louis. The Midtown neighborhood of the City is bounded by Olive Street and Delmar Boulevard to the north via North Compton Avenue and Chouteau Avenue to the south. To the east lies North and South Jefferson Avenue and to the west lies North and South Vandeventer Avenue.

Midtown has witnessed a variety of changes throughout the years. Once regarded as the thriving arts district of St. Louis, Midtown declined in the 1970s and 1980s. The 1990s saw a rejuvenation of investment, as Saint Louis University spent millions of dollars rebuilding its campus and the community.


Soulard (soo-lard) is a historic French neighborhood in St. Louis, Missouri. It is named after Antoine Soulard, who first began to develop the land. Soulard was a surveyor for the Spanish government and a refugee from the French Revolution in the 1790s.

It is a picturesque, residential neighborhood filled with restaurants, bars, and pubs, among other businesses and is one of the oldest communities in the city. The neighborhood of Soulard hosts many events throughout the year, including Mardi Gras, a car show, Oktoberfest, and Bastille Day. It is also known as a neighborhood with a high density of bars, many of which play host to a variety of live music; especially the blues and jazz bands which the city is known for. The district is also host to regular pub crawls which are popular among locals and visitors alike. Coincidentally, the name solard itself is the French word for drunkard, though there are many other aspects to the neighborhood than just drinking.[2] Many of the homes there date back to the mid to late 1800s and have unique architecture. Soulard is a thriving, eclectic area, and is home to the largest Mardi Gras celebration in the Midwestern United States. It also has a very active community with its own newspaper, "The Soulard Renaissance", as well as organizations such as the Soulard Restoration Group and the Soulard Business Association helping to organize events and keep the neighborhood clean and safe. It is also home to a large popular Farmers' market [3], several historic churches [4], and the North American headquarters of Anheuser-Busch.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. (pronounced /ˈnhaɪzər ˈbʊʃ/), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Belgium-based Anheuser–Busch InBev, is the largest brewing company in the United States. The company operates 12 breweries in the United States and nearly 20 in other countries. It was, until December 2009, also one of America's largest theme park operators; operating ten theme parks across the United States through the company's family entertainment division, Busch Entertainment Corporation. It is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.

Anheuser-Busch InBev's North American headquarters are located in St. Louis, Missouri. The brewery, opened in 1852, is a National Historic Landmark District, and includes three buildings listed as National Historic Landmarks. Free public tours of the brewery are given. The tour takes visitors through the complex, and those of the legal age can enjoy two free glasses of any Anheuser-Busch product in the Hospitality Room after the tour. Tourists can see beer being made in a working part of the brewery (from behind plexiglas shields).

The company keeps a rotation of its famous Budweiser Clydesdales at its headquarters, and visitors to the brewery can observe the Clydesdales in their exercise field and see their places in the carriage house. Some of the herd is kept at the company farm in St. Louis County. The farm, known as Grant's Farm (having been owned by former President Ulysses S. Grant at one time), is home to a menagerie of animals. Since 2008, approximately half of the Budweiser Clydesdales are kept at the Warmsprings Ranch.

The brewery was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1966.[12][14] The landmarked area includes 189 structures spread over 142 acres (0.57 km2), including many red brick Romanesque ones "with square crenelated towers and elaborate details."[12] The Brew House, built in 1891-1892, is particularly notable for its "multi-storied hop chandeliers, intricate iron-work, and utilization of natural light".

South Grand (Tower Grove South)

Tower Grove South is a neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri. Formerly known as Oak Hill, Tower Grove South is bounded by Arsenal St. on the north, Chippewa St. on the south, Kingshighway Blvd. on the west, and Grand Ave. on the east. The majority of the neighborhood was built following the extension of streetcar lines from downtown St. Louis. Commercial development in the neighborhood is concentrated on Grand Ave. on the east and Morganford Rd. in the west of the neighborhood. There are also scatterings of commercial and mixed use buildings on interior intersections.

During the 1990s through the present, the neighborhood has been reversing a slow decline with the widespread rehabilitation of residential, commercial, and mixed use structures. The Grand Ave business district on the eastern flank of the neighborhood was the first urban business district in the neighborhood to see rehabilitation and new pedestrian scale construction.

Metrolink Light Rail

MetroLink (reporting mark BSDA) is the light rail transit system in the Greater St. Louis area of Missouri and Illinois. The entire system currently consists of two lines (Red Line and Blue Line) connecting Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and Shrewsbury, MO with Scott Air Force Base near Shiloh, Illinois through downtown St. Louis. The system features 37 stations and carries an average of 61,573 people each weekday. There have been over $15 billion worth of transit oriented developments near the system since it opened in 1993.

About St. Louis: Did You Know?

- St. Louis is nicknamed the "Gateway to the West" for its role in the westward expansion of the United States.

- In 1900, St. Louis was the 4th largest U.S. city behind...

- St. Louis hosted the World's Fair and Olympics in 1904.

- St. Louis received the World Leadership Award for urban renewal in 2006.

- St. Louis is one of the largest centers of Roman Catholicism in the United States.

- The region is known as an academic and corporate center for the biomedical sciences.

- On August 22, 1876, the City of St. Louis voted to secede from St. Louis County and become an independent city.

- Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the world, exceeding Central Park in NYC by 500 acres.

- The St. Louis Zoological Park is one of the oldest and largest free-admission zoos in the country.

- The Port of St. Louis is the third-largest inland port by tonnage in the country and 21st-largest of any sort.

- Metrolink is one of the largest light rail systems in the country with 16 million riders annually.

Article and images by Ennis Davis