With a population exceeding 319,000, the port city of St. Louis, situated on the easternmost border of the state of Missouri, is the 60th most populous city in the US. St. Louis’ geographical situation has impacted upon its modern economy, establishing the city as an important center for manufacturing, trade, transportation, and tourism. It has also, however, profoundly shaped the city’s rich and diverse history and culture.
Though first settled by the French in 1764, St. Louis was later to come under Spanish control from the late 18th to the turn of the 19th century. Waves of German, Irish, and Italian migrants in the 19th and 20th centuries added to the cultural melting pot of the city, creating a unique blend of music, art, architecture, and cuisine which continues to manifest itself today.
Join us at RENTCafe as we take you on a virtual tour through St. Louis’ history to see the changes as well as the architectural consistency of the city’s urban landscape over the course of the last century.
1. The View Down the Gateway Mall, The Plaza Square Apartments Historic District
Starting along the central thruway of Downtown St. Louis and running east along Market Street, this greenbelt mall was constructed upon former slum land and came about through the enactment of Truman’s American Housing Act (1949). The buildings on the right of the picture – consisting of two historic churches and a group of 1,090 high-rise apartments – was listed in the national register of historic places in July 2007.
With a history that goes back almost 100 years, the 19-square block Gateway Mall runs between Market and Chestnut Streets from the Old Court House (at Broadway) to St. Louis Union Station at 21st Street. Key civic buildings within the Mall are the Civil Courts and the War Memorial. As part of the larger 1999 Downtown Plan, The Mall has been going though a major revitalization process that hopes to see the area transformed into a genuine destination for residents and tourists alike.
Photo Credit 1950s: Cityscape of St. Louis Looking West from the Civil Courts Building Down Market Street, Memorial Plaza. Photograph by Richard Moore, 1950s. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. Richard Moore Collection. N40609
Photo Credit 1969: Aerial view of St. Louis riverfront and city looking northwest toward the Gateway Arch, 25 January 1969. Photograph by Ted McCrea, 1969. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. Ted McCrea Collection. N31029.