Oakland


Residential, Commercial, and Industrial

Soon after the subdivision of Cheltenham in the late 1850's, that area began to develop and by the time of the World's Fair, the area from Hampton to Kraft, south of Clayton Avenue was well built up. Another well-settled residential area then was between Prather and Blendon, north of Manchester Avenue.

At the present time, there is not much residential development east of Hampton. One area is concentrated in the blocks west of Kingshighway south of Berthold, another area, largely single family in character exists, east of Hampton from Wise to Dale, while east of Pierce the single family dwellings are mixed with flats and some industrial land uses.

The area west of Hampton to the city limits is primarily single family in character, with a mixture of flats and apartments along Clayton Avenue west of Tamm.

A subdivision of two family flats, built in the 1940's is located in the vicinity of West Park and Louisville Avenues. Some flats and apartments are evident along McCausland Avenue and multiple family uses are rather heavy in the area north of Manchester from Kraft to beyond McCausland. A single family district is located west of Ellendale Avenue from Southwest Avenue to the River des Peres.

Commercial usage was rather meager in the Oakland area during the nineteenth century. By 1875, the only such uses were two small hotels on Manchester Road across from the Cheltenham station of the Pacific Railroad. Probably the first large scale commercial activity was the Forest Park Highlands, which began as a beer garden and amusement park in 1896. Its location on Oakland Avenue, east of the south side of the World's Fair grounds gave the Highlands a tremendous boost in business in 1904.

For many years after the fair, the amusement park's bandstand was a huge Japanese gate structure from the World's Fair's Pike. Known as the "Big Place on the Hill", the Highlands was the City's largest amusement park and the scene of countless school picnics and pleasure jaunts. It boasted of two roller coasters, the "Mountain Ride" and the "Racer Dip," a merry-go-round, all sorts of rides, shooting galleries, swimming pool, dance ball room, a fun house, and a large picnic gourds. In its later years, the Forest Park Highlands suffered from a decline in business and met a tragic end when it was destroyed by fire in 1963. Its site is now occupied by the Junior College.

To the west of the Highlands was another center of civic enterprise, the Arena. It was built in 1929 at a cost of two million dollars, for the National Dairy Show, by a company headed by Ben G. Brinkman and sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. With the onset of the depression, the Arena fell upon sad days and was placed in receivership in 1933.

The 17,000 seat structure with its side exhibition buildings, was offered for sale for $150,000 in 1936, but found no takers. After a varied career of trade expositions and sporting events for more than thirty years, the Arena was purchased by Sidney Solomon, Jr. in 1967 for $4,000,000. After acquiring the St. Louis hockey franchise and spending $1,500,000 for improvements to the Arena, it became the home of the Blues. One of its twin towers fell victim to the tornado of February, 1959, which also leveled the KTVI broadcasting tower. Its name has been changed to "The Checkerdome" after its acquisition by Ralston-Purina.

A row of commercial structures, including the Falstaff offices and the Quality Courts Motel, developed along Oakland Avenue, facing Forest Park, beginning in the late 1950's. At aboutthe same time, Hampton Avenue between Oakland and Manchester, became a commercial center. A strip of commercia uses is located on the north side of Manchester, west from Hampton to Maplewood. Other pockets of commercial uses are at Clayton and Tamm Avenues and in Hi-Pointe in the vicinity of Cheshire Inn. A small commercial area is located north OI Manchester on Kingshighway. A large hardware store and a supermarket have occupied the former Ontario Store building on Manchester near Hampton

Industrial activity in the area began with the construction of the Pacific Railroad in the middle 1850's. Excellent clay deposits in the vicinity brought the establishment of several fire-brick works before 1875. At that time, the larger plants were those of James Green's Laclede Works at about the present Wilson and Sulphur Avenues and Evens and Howard's Cheltenham Fire Brick Works on Manchester east of Macklind. A neighbor of the latter firm was the St. Louis Smelting and Refining Company, while across Manchester, near Sublette, was S. Mitchell's brick works, which dated from 1857. Coal was also discovered in the area in the late 1850's, supplementing the clay sources, which dated from twenty years before that.

At present, industrial and warehousing uses cover at least half of the Oakland area. The principal industrial sector runs west from Kingshighway along the nearly parallel tracks of the Missouri Pacific and Frisco Railways. Another broad area of industrial and warehousing exists north of Manchester from Kingshighway to Hampton.

Some establishments of long-standing in the area include the W. S. Dickey Clay Manufacturing Company, a survival of the Cheltenham brick works, the National Lead Company, Hydraulic Press Brick Company and Scullin Steel Company, a section of which was used as the Gateway Ammunition plant in World War II. The Highland Industrial Park and the Knox Industrial Drive along the River des Peres were developed in the 1960's.