The Hill


As in all newly built up areas, commercial activity began here soon after the first houses were constructed. From 1890 to 1920, the business were local in character to serve their own communities. In the Italian "Hill" district, groceries, saloons, barber and shoe repair shops and similar ventures were begun by residents using their own capital. After World War I, businesses developed on a larger scale and an important force in the area ever since has been the Southwest Bank, which was founded in 1920. Another well known firm that began in that year was the Fair Mercantile Company.

One of the oldest commercial landmarks in the area was the Fasterling Building at the norteast corner of Macklind and Southwest Avenues. It was built in 1883 and was used, at various times, as a road house, grocery, saloon and general store. Behind it was Fasterling's Grove, a favorite spot for school picnics, which also served as a beer garden. The building was occupied by a furniture store when it was razed in 1953.

In the entertainment field, the Family Theater was opened on Marconi near Daggett before 1920 and also operated an open air theater in a nearby field. In 1925, the opening of the Columbia Theater, at Southwest and Edwards, brought Hollywood glamor to the Hill and eventually resulted in the closing of the Family Theater in 1930. Repeal of prohibition in 1933 brought a spate of new taverns and night clubs into the area. Italian restaurants such as Ruggeri's continue to enjoy a widespread clientele.

At present the commercial areas are concentrated along the principal streets. One center is at Kingshighway and Southwest Avenue, with considerable commercial activity along the later street westwardly to Sublette Avenue. Stores to serve the Italian "Hill" district are grouped along a Marconi Avenue in the heart of that area. There is a minor amount of commercial on Arsenal Street and along Hampton, north of Columbia, is a row of business structures erected during the mid-1950's.

Image- Grocery Store at Bischoff and Sublette Avenues about 1915.
Image- Inside an Italian Salami Plant.