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STL Neighborhood Trivia

From charming Kirkwood and well-heeled Ladue to eclectic University City and historic Benton Park, St. Louis is rich in distinctive neighborhoods and small towns, each with its own lovable personality. T&S unearthed some fun facts that might surprise, enlighten and entertain!

[benton park]
Benton Park was used as the City Cemetery from 1833 to 1859. It was named after Thomas Hart Benton, the first U.S. Senator who represented the state. Brewers always have flocked to the area, because its underground cave system makes it ideal for beer storage.

The birthplace of Susan Blow, who opened the first public kindergarten in the country at Des Peres School in 1873. The next year, she opened a school to train kindergarten teachers, putting St. Louis in the middle of the national kindergarten movement.

[central west end]
Authors Kate Chopin, Tennessee Williams, T.S. Eliot and William S. Burroughs were born here. Plus, the largest collection of mosaics in the world can be found at Cathedral Basilica St. Louis, which opened in 1914.

Before its 1998 incorporation, Chesterfield was known by many different names, including Hog Hollow, Gumbo and River’s Edge. The first home on the Chesterfield Historic Register is the Old House in Hog Hollow circa 1859, which since 1978 has been an antiques and art shop. The town also is home to River’s Edge Park, a 188-acre green space with a nearly 40-acre lake.

Home to a stretch of the Centennial Greenway, a trail that, when completed, will run from Forest Park all the way to St. Charles County. As indicated by a sign at North and South Road, the greenway follows much the same path as the 1904 Olympic Marathon. Clayton also is home to Anderson Park, previously a street of homes called Haddington Court. Now nearly 2 acres of this 4.56-acre green space is set aside as the Clayton Dog Park, an exclusive, gated, poochie paradise.

[creve coeur]
Olive Boulevard used to be called Olive Street Road, which followed an old Native American trail that traced the high ground from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River. The trail also was used by westward-traveling pioneers.

Founded in 1853 as the first planned suburb west of the Mississippi, it’s named for James Pugh Kirkwood, who built the stretch of Pacific Railroad that cuts through the town.

Edie’s Mulch Site is one of the oldest professionally managed composting facilities in the country. It was founded in 1989, just a few years before composting (rather than putting yard waste into the landfill) became a state law. Originally called Ladue Mulch Site, it was later renamed in honor of longtime Ladue mayor Edith Spink.

[lafayette square]
Home to United Hebrew, established in 1841 as the first Jewish congregation west of the Mississippi. The neighborhood’s Lafayette Park, created in 1836, is the oldest in the city and is named after the Marquis de Lafayette, a Frenchman who served under George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

Home to Saratoga Lanes, which opened in 1916 and claims to be the oldest bowling alley west of the Mississippi. The area between Southwest Avenue and Sutton Boulevard is the first Green Dining Alliance-designated Green Dining District, in which at least 25 percent of eateries serve organic, locally sourced foods.

[maryland heights]
Home to Creve Coeur Park, the first in the county parks system. Its name is French for ‘broken heart,’ after a legend that a Native American princess jumped from a ledge over the park’s lake after learning her love for a French fur trapper was unrequited.

[university city]
Founded by Edward Gardner Lewis, who purchased more than 80 acres here in 1902 with plans to build a model city. The publisher of Woman’s Magazine and Woman’s Farm Journal, Lewis built what is today’s City Hall to house his businesses. In 1906, the city incorporated, and he became its first mayor. Before the land was developed for residential purposes, Lewis built a tent city for families visiting the World’s Fair.

[webster groves]
Birthplace of novelist Jonathan Franzen. Webster Groves also is home to Hawken House, built in 1857 by the inventors of the Hawken rifle, a weapon popular with explorers, including Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone.