Situated just east of Henry Shaw’s Tower Grove Park, the neighborhood of Tower Grove East is home to stunning architecture, the South Grand shopping and dining district, and a multicultural community. Most of what’s tangible dates back to the early 1900’s when German immigrants, following their relatives to adjoining communities, spurred building development in TGE. Since that time, many social and ethnic groups have made their mark, leaving this area as an extremely diverse place to live.
photograph by Karen Potter
photograph by Steph James
Throughout the neighborhood, homes are built primarily in the American Foursquare style, which means that many of the houses look very much the same from the outside. However, the use of pattern books insured that the interiors of these structures vary widely. Originally spacious homes for a single family, many of the buildings have since been converted into two- or three-family units, and are for rent. The transition of housing from single family to multiple families (occurred gradually beginning in the late 1920’s) and introduced much of the busy character that still defines the neighborhood. In the past two decades, some of the homes have been converted back to their original use (linked in some part to gentrification).
Tower Grove East, like much of St. Louis, has experienced pronounced periods of urban decay, and the neighborhood does exhibit many of the open wounds burdening the city. Abandoned buildings and lots, crime, poor public schools/closing schools, racial tension, and more exist in TGE, but the current residents are determined to improve upon these ills (and much progress has been made). That said, the neighborhood does have many unique attributes (numerous festivals and parades, good access to public transit, a multicultural community, etc.) which seem to grow daily.
Our end point was Meskerem Ethiopian, a fantastic eatery along South Grand. If you haven’t tried Ethiopian cuisine, food portions are served on a delicious, spongy flatbread called “injera” that you use as your eating utensil. Our group ordered the Meskerem Combo and the Vegetarian Combo (among other things), and they were each fantastic!