Photo Flood 71: Boulevard Heights

photo by Ann Aurbach

Boulevard Heights is a quiet southside neighborhood. Sort of a place for people from the suburbs, who want a taste of city life, or rather, a place for people from the city that want a taste of the suburbs. Nonetheless, it does possess some intriguing buildings, mostly residences, that vary from quintessentially STL to totally idiosyncratic. It is also one of very few neighborhoods to be bisected by the River Des Peres (as opposed to having the River be its border).

photo by Joe Harrison

 

photo by Sue Rakers

 

photo by Ryan Stanley

 

photo by Mike Matney

Boulevard Heights is a neighborhood not often remarked upon, and there are lots of reasons for that. For instance, this is one of the neighborhoods that was popular for St. Louis police officers to live in, when they were required to live in the city, because it really is pretty far off the beaten path. Of course, that the neighborhood is very white (about 90% as of 2010) factored into that equation also, but times are changing (well, sort of). During the census between 2000 and 2010, the neighborhood experienced the second highest percentage increase in its African-African population of any neighborhood on the City’s south side. Of course, for a neighborhood with a very low minority population to begin with, any increase can appear drastic, percentage-wise.

photo by Ann Aurbach

 

photo by Joe Rakers

 

photo by Sue Rakers

You might think that, because of its position along St. Louis’ edge, that Boulevard Heights is a very young neighborhood, and for the most part you’d be right. Most of the built environment visible today went up in the early to mid-1900’s, but there are older elements too. First of all, the northern border of the neighborhood is Gravois, which as discussed in our article on Princeton Heights, was an important trade artery into the Missouri hinterland. This blessed Boulevard Heights with a smattering of sprawling farms dating back to the mid-1800s.

photo by Joe Harrison

 

photo by Joe Rakers

 

photo by Mike Matney

 

photo by Sue Rakers

After the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904, the Fair’s designer George Kessler, emerged full of optimism for the city, and with grand visions (enmeshed by the City Beautiful Movement of the time) for its future development. One of the projects he managed to partially complete, before leaving St. Louis somewhat scathed by the bureaucratic machinations of city planning, was the implementation of a boulevard system radiating out from the city’s Forest Park along Kingshighway that would semi-surround the city in green space. It’s southern terminus was Boulevard Heights, and thus, the name.

The boulevards brought commercial and residential development south, and through World War II, building would boom in Boulevard Heights.

photo by Joe Harrison

 

photo by Sue Rakers

 

photo by Ann Aurbach

 

photo by Ryan Stanley

Today, the neighborhood is a very pleasant one, with lots of families that enjoy the nearby Carondelet Park. Adding to this enjoyment of outdoor activities are the numerous pocket parks smattered throughout Boulevard Heights, including the bike lines, bridges and green space recently completed along the River Des Peres. No doubt, though these images may convey moodiness, that is merely the weather; Boulevard Heights is in fact, about as non-moody as St. Louis neighborhoods get.

photo by Mike Matney

 

photo by Joe Rakers

 

photo by Sue Rakers

 

photo by Ryan Stanley

Map available here.

Our endpoint for Photo Flood 71 was the fabulous Apollonia, a standout option for mediterranean cuisine in St. Louis.

photo by Ann Aurbach

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