A series of bird's-eye view drawings made for Compton and Dry's pictorial atlas of 1875 provides a realistic view of conditions in the area a century ago. While Tower Grove Park and the Missouri Botanical Garden were well-landscaped and developed by that time, the surrounding present day residential neighborhood was largely vacant land. Except for a few houses on the perimeter streets, the area west of Grand to the Garden and north from Magnolia to Park Avenue was meadow land and corn fields. At the northwest corner of Grand and Magnolia stood the Rene Beauvais mansion, built in 1854, later to become the nucleus of the Memorial Home for the Aged. North of Shaw Avenue, on the west side of Grand, were two large houses occupied by the families of N.C. Hudson and J.G. Butler. North of these, at the head of Lafayette Avenue were the Episcopal Orphans Home and Mount Calvary Episcopal Church.
On the next corner north was the home of William F. Obear and midway between it and Park Avenue was the estate of Edwin Fowler and about a block south of Chouteau Avenue, the works of the Hydraulic Press Brick Company was located. Running westward from Grand to Tower Grove Avenue, Flora Place and Shaw Avenue are shown as streets lined with trees but devoid of any houses. Only three small houses fronted on Magnolia Avenue until, on the approach to Tower Grove Avenue, the hot houses and grounds of Michels' Winter Garden are to be seen. Across Tower Grove Avenue was the Casino near the Botanical Garden grounds. A few houses are scattered along the east side of Tower Grove Avenue south of Flora Place. West of the Garden were Shaw's farm and arboretum and at Kingshighway and Old Manchester Road were two buildings housing Shaw's schools. Eastward from Kingshighway along the Missouri Pacific Railroad, considerable development is evident, particularly in the McRee City area, where streets and clusters of dwellings are located.