Land Divisions and Parks

The sale of land in the St. Louis Commons was authorized by the City in 1836 with platting on a gridiron pattern. With a few exceptions, the streets running north and south were named after the states of the Union, while those in an east-west direction were named for various Indian tribes. By 1860, most of the platted areas of the Commons had been sold although the City retained reservations for some areas for parks and city subdivisions. Development of the area occurred in a gradual manner from the east and north. In 1875, housing was fairly dense east of Jefferson Avenue and north of Chippewa Street, while the sections to the west and south were rural in character, including farms, orchards and grape arbors.

A commercial nucleus had begun by this time at Grand and Gravois, with considerable construction along Gravois to the east. The area east of Grand northward from Cherokee Street was largely farmland; however, an increasing number of houses was evident toward Arsenal Street, which had a horse car line to Tower Grove Park. A prominent feature of this area was the old Picotte (Pickers) Cemetery at the present site of Roosevelt High School. The Marquette-Cherokee area had assumed its present built-up aspect by 1910.

Several neighborhood parks were created in 1854 from City reservations in the old Commons, these included Gravois, Laclede and Mount Pleasant parks. Marquette Park, at Osage and Minnesota, was acquired in 1915 from the Board of Children 's Guardians. Its swimming pool was opened in 1917. Bellerive (formerly Riverside) Park, overlooking the Mississippi River at the foot of Bates Street, was purchased by the City in 1908, while the Minnie Wood Memorial Playground at Broadway and Meramec was acquired as a gift in 1925.