5 Great Neighborhoods in St. Louis
For the past century, Ladue has drawn Saint Louis’ elite. They built homes there of elegance and character of brick and stone on lots of an acre or several along private, tree-shaded lanes. Around them sprang up five private clubs (four for golf and one for tennis), two private schools, one county park and one small city park.
Today, a little more than 8,000 people live in Ladue. Census statistics show them to be predominantly white, well educated, with management or professional jobs that bring in some of the highest household income in the region.
County records show home sales in the past year ranging from around $300,000 into the low millions, with most above $500,000. Many of the homes were built before 1950, though some of these homes have been torn down and replaced with larger residences. One of the largest boasts 32 rooms, 9 bedrooms and 12 baths, according to county records.
The public schools are among the region’s best, and the district includes an area larger than the city, including the less-expensive neighbor Olivette.
One quirk: For all its wealth, Ladue doesn’t have its own post office. That’s because another town in Missouri is named La Due, and in the days before ZIP codes the two were often confused.
The county seat of St. Louis County, Clayton in the 1960s became a rival to downtown St. Louis for corporate office space, and today boasts a downtown of high-rises for business headquarters, lawyers and other professionals, as well as retail boutiques. Yet this development is concentrated in a small area about five blocks square, making it a very walkable area. In addition, this business district sits next to neighborhoods of fine homes.
The city estimates that 80,000 people commute to Clayton for work, and downtown and other areas have a wide range of restaurants to serve them.
Because of the large commercial tax base, the city has excellent schools, lower property tax rates, a good parks systems and a recreation center. Clayton provides a large number of city services, and most residents are within walking distance of a park.
The suburb’s 15,000 residents enjoy single-family homes ranging from $250,000 ranches to mansions in private places, as well as apartments and condos at various price levels. Most of the residents are in business or the professions.
On the east end of Clayton are the dormitories of Washington University, and the campuses of Fontbonne University and Concordia Seminary, all which add to the city’s cultural life.
Clayton sits halfway between downtown St. Louis and the airport, making commuting easy in either direction.
Webster Groves got its start as a railroad suburb of Saint Louis in the 19th century. As a result, Webster’s older residences are unlike most in the St. Louis area, featuring frame Victorian homes with big, wrap-around porches on big lots with many trees and mature landscaping. The city has a program to honor buildings more than a century old.
Webster also enjoys some of the more intact older shopping areas. Many suburban business districts were sacrificed to development, destroying many of their charms. But Webster’s districts kept much of their attractiveness, and now restaurants, shops and boutiques are found in the Old Webster and Old Orchard neighborhoods.
The city has some 22,000 residents, with 10 percent minorities. Many families find Webster Groves attractive, in part because of its big houses and large yards. In addition to the good school district, the city has an aquatic center, ice arena, and parks.
The suburb also has newer brick homes in the southern part of the city, which is divided by Interstate 44. Prices range from $150,000 to $600,000 for the largest homes.
Webster is also home to Webster University and Eden Seminary of the United Church of Christ. On the grounds of Webster University is the Loretto-Hilton Center, a theater complex used by the St. Louis Repertory Theater and the Opera Theater of St. Louis.
Webster Groves has many traditions. A Fourth of July celebration in Memorial Park is one, as is the annual Thanksgiving Day football game with long-time rival Kirkwood to the west.
CENTRAL WEST END
Sidewalk cafes abound along Euclid Avenue in the Central West End, one of St. Louis’ most mixed and lively neighborhoods. Anchored by the Washington University Medical Center, and bordered roughly by Forest Park, Grand Center and Saint Louis University, the area’s population has peaks of young adults and those over 55. The neighborhood boasts numerous boutiques, bars, galleries and antique stores, and various offices in older converted homes, as well as the Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica, with one of the largest mosaic installations in the world.
For the first half of the 20th century, the district was the home to the well-to-do and the stores serving them. They built elegant private homes on private streets. National stars stayed at the Chase-Park Plaza Hotel, a St. Louis landmark. After a decline in the 1970s, the area began a revival in the ‘80s, taking advantage of the fine architecture, and today offers extraordinary homes, new townhomes, new high-rise condominiums and older apartment buildings.
Parking is at a premium, and worse on major holidays as people come to the district to celebrate. Crime, once a problem, has dropped in recent years.
Young families have been flocking to the City of St. Peters, some 25 miles northwest of the Arch in St. Charles County along Interstate 70. In the last quarter century, a small farming community exploded into one of the largest towns in Missouri, with a population of about 58,000. St. Peters offers lower housing costs, newer housing, goods schools in the Fort Zumwalt, Francis Howell and St. Charles school districts, and an extensive system of parks and recreation. The city is full of children, and the city estimates that 37 percent of the residents are less than 25 years old.
As late as 1970 the town held only 486 residents and was a farming community. But through annexation and good development of its interstate location the city grew to its current size. Home prices are a key draw, with most of the homes priced from $140,000 to $300,000. Most of the homes are frame, some with brick veneers. The overwhelming majority of houses were built after 1970.
All those new residents drew a flock of stores, including a major regional shopping center. The city has been building and updating its roads to handle all the population.
The city’s parks and recreation offerings are extensive. The city’s recreation center has an Olympic-sized swimming pool and three ice skating rinks, along with the usual basketball courts. Its parks offer a wealth of soccer fields, as well as a BMX course, trails, playgrounds, picnic areas -- and even a swamp.