‘Where do you live?’ If you have ever met anyone in St. Louis, this is probably one of the first questions asked. Whether you are from the city, county, north, south, east or west, most people in St. Louis are convinced that they can identify you by what community you come from.
The actual city of St. Louis is broken into three main parts; the North Side, South City and the Central West End. The three areas combined have approximately eighty established neighborhoods. If you decide to add the western part of St. Louis County, this number is most likely to double.
Many areas of the city were originally established by separate ethnic groups while most others were developed by social groups. You don’t have to be a genius to realize the area known as ‘Dutchtown’ was established by German immigrants. However, it may not be so easy to identify areas such as ‘Dogtown’ or ‘The Hill’ as the Irish and Italian areas of town. The Central West End is historically a very liberal yet sophisticated part of the city.
This area can be further subdivided into a middle class and a very wealthy area depending on which side of Kings highway you live on. University City was started mainly by Washington University students and is still predominantly populated by area college kids. This portion of the city has also grown a subdivision known as ‘The Loop.’ The Loop is extremely liberal and thought of by most people as almost mysterious or bizarre. A new phenomenon happening in our city is the rebirth of many of our older and rundown areas. One of the best examples of this is the ‘Soulard’ area of town, which now has an established nightlife as well as exquisite historical antique homes. Lafayette Square has also enjoyed the same type of success as Soulard.
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It is still in the middle of a high crime area, but is populated by upper-class people with beautiful homes with elaborate wrought iron fences and intricate security systems. This trend of fixing up old flats is spreading out from the areas of Soulard and Lafayette Square to neighboring communities at a rapid pace. The Compton Heights area is coming back with rebuilt old Victorian styled houses and private gated streets that contrast the French styled flats of Soulard. The Shaw and Tower Grove area are also following the lead of revitalization similar to these charming old neighborhoods.
While the residential areas we have discussed are making a major comeback, so are many business districts in our city. In Midtown, St. Louis University has recently bought up blocks and blocks of dilapidated and deserted homes. The university has expanded their beautiful new campus almost double the size from just five years ago. Another type of business in St. Louis that’s making a comeback is nightlife.
The Washington Loft district, while renting loft apartments faster than they can be built, seems to build night clubs directly below them just as quickly. As stated before, Soulard has some of the most charming pubs you will ever see and a few very fine restaurants. So while the question ‘Where do you live?’ might not tell someone everything about you as an individual, where you live or grew up in St. Louis may give a pretty good indication of who you are and your background.