Locale and Topography

Stretching southwardly from the downtown area, the Soulard area reaches from Chouteau Avenue to the old Arsenal grounds. The land slopes gradually eastwardly toward the Mississippi River from Broadway, but west of that thoroughfare it generally rises at a steeper grade.

Historically, the principal road through the area was the route to Carondelet, the road which gave St. Louis egress to the territory to its south. At various times, it was known as Carondelet Road, Carondelet Avenue and finally as South Broadway. In the mid-nineteenth century the present South Eighteenth Street was called Second Carondelet Avenue.

During colonial times, the suburban development of the area near St. Louis was more rapid in a southerly direction. Country estates developed along the riverfront in the later years of the eighteenth century, including those of Gabriel Cerre, Joseph Brazeau, Benito Vasquez, Eugene Poure and the Papin family. The area was heavily wooded southward to the present site of the Anheuser-Busch brewery where a clearing called Petit Prairie was located. The present Arsenal tract had a riverside rocky ledge which afforded a good landing place for ferry crossings from Cahokia.

The Illinois shore was covered by a wooded island, which had been washed away by 1830. The capricious action of the river had shifted to the Illinois side to such an extent by this time that sand bars had developed into Duncan's and Quarantine Islands in the river opposite the Soulard area. The formation of Duncan's Island threatened to block off the St. Louis levee from the river channel by 1845. This was prevented by the harbor works, started by Lt. Robert E. Lee, which caused the channel to again shift to the Missouri side and which later resulted in the washing away of the two islands.

Image - View of soulard, 1875