Development of commercial districts in the Central West End has followed the familiar pattern of evolution due to the accompanying creation of adjacent residential areas and adequate transit routes. Streets carrying streetcar lines - generated commercial strips and caused concentrations of stores at transfer intersections. Thus, the commercial character of streets such as Olive, Euclid, Maryland and Delmar developed and neighborhood shopping centers were created at corners such as Euclid and Maryland, on Olive at Boyle, Sarah and Vandeventer and at Taylor and Delmar. Special circumstances caused concentrations of certain types of shops at some of these intersections such as Maryland Plaza and Gaslight Square. Their eventual decline was influenced by economic and environmental factors, particularly in the case of the latter where the incursion of tawdriness and crime led to the entertainment center's demise.
Originally housing antique shops and music studios, Gaslight Square saw a buildup of quality restaurants and night spots which reached its zenith in the early 1960's. Maryland Plaza has suffered the loss of several of its prestige shops in recent years, following the pattern of emigration to new centers in St. Louis County. However, a redevelopment plan for the area is currently being promoted by an area group. Central West End's geographical situation in the City's central corridor, its interlacing by major streets and the proximity of Forest Park sparked its development as a major hotel center. This trend began with the Buckingham (later Kingsway) Hotel at the time of the World's Fair and climaxed with the Chase in 1922 and the Park Plaza in 1931.
The Chase Hotel and apartment group was designed by Preston J. Bradshaw, who designed many such structures during the 1920's, including the Coronado, Gateworth, Fairmont and Melbourne. The Park Plaza was the work of the architectural firm of Schopp and Baumann. While strong in hotels and apartments, the area did not generate any major theaters, probably because of the nearness of the midtown theaters on Grand Avenue. Neighborhood movie houses in the area included the Congress on Olive east of Sarah and the Delmar and West End Lyric on Delmar near Euclid. During the open air movie era, the City's finest such establishment was the West End Lyric-Skydome at Taylor and Delmar.
This area also featured the deluxe Cicardi's restaurant which flourished in the 1910-1925 period, being replaced by the Roosevelt Hotel. The Racquet Club at 476 North Kingshighway was built in 1907, for social and sports activity. Taylor and Olive was known for its doctors' offices in the Lister Building and Euclid and McPherson was famous for exclusive decorators, confectioners and fine shops. On Washington near Euclid were prestige automobile dealers for cars such as Pierce-Arrow. At present hopeful signs of commercial rejuvenation in the Central West End can be seen in the nearly completed state of Maryland Plaza and in the rehabilitation of the intersection of Euclid and Laclede.
Industrial activity in the Central West End is generally within the area bounded by Taylor Avenue on the west, Forest Park Boulevard on the north, and the Daniel Boone Expressway on the south. It extends eastwardly toward Grand Boulevard. Centered along the Wabash (Norfolk and Western) Railroad, the district is intensively built-up with a deficiency of space for parking. There has been a considerable turn over in industrial uses in the are. For example, the former Ford Motor Company assembly plant is now the Goodwill Industries store and the Independent Packing Company has been replaced by the Missouri Pacific freight terminal and yards. The area was and is characterized by a wide variety of uses and sizes of industries and there is no one predominating industrial use.