The Hill


Earliest platting for a residential subdivision was in Garden Place, in a portion of the Cooper tract west of Kingshighway, shortly before the Civil War. However, this area was considered rather remote at that time and remained largely rural until about 1880. An exception was Mount St. Louis, bounded by the present day Sublette, Macklind, Wilson Avenues and the Missouri Pacific Railroad. It was the construction of the railroad that led to the platting of Mount St. Louis in 1857. Following a lull caused by the Civil War, platting was resumed in the late 1860's when the large Fairmount subdivision was recorded. It was bounded by Kingshighway and Northrup, Bischoff and Macklind Avenues. This had been a portion of the Sublette estate. Another important addition in the are was St. Louis Heights, platted in 1871 and bounded by Brannon, Columbia, Sublette and Arsenal. West of this, another portion of the Cooper tract had been subdivided in 1868 by the John Dalton estate. In the northeastern corner of the area was a portion of the Cheltenham addition in David W. Graham's Sulphur Spring tract.

A major factor in the subsequent upbuilding of the Hill area was the discovery of valuable clay deposits in the late 1830's. The first clay products plant was opened by some English Quakers who came to the area in 1844. However, it was not until after the completion of the Pacific Railroad to Cheltenham in 1852, that the clay was used industrially on a wide scale. The establishment of clay works, coal mines and the St. Louis Smelting and Refining Company attracted many German and Irish immigrants to work in the plants and to reside in Fairmont nad Mount St. Louis. Later plant expansion brought the nucleus of the Italian population to the Hill area during the 1890's.

An early settlement in the Hill area was made in 1853 by Etienne Cabet, a French utopian socialist, who led a group of 200 followers called Icarians. Their communistic doctrine advocated state control of all economic and social life. They purchased a 28-acre site on Wilson Avenue, east of Sulphur, and built a commune center and some small cabins, where they followed cultural pursuits such as drama, music and literature. Their experimental settlement was abandoned in 1864 because of dissension and financial difficulties.

During the 1890's, the continuing arrival of the Italian immigrants, and their need to live within walking distance of their jobs in the clay produsts plants, resulted in a rapid buildup in the Fairmount section. That area was considered to be rather remote from the City at that time and public utilities there were proctically non-existent. Housing conditions were also very poor and many lived in frame shanties or tenements. After the turn of the century, one-story, four-room brick houses made their appearance. At the time of the World's Fair in 1904, the area from Pattison south to Bischoff and from Boardman west to Macklind was well built-up. West of Macklind, the area was generally rural in character. Further south, there was a well populated district in the vicinity of St. Aloysius German Catholic Church, extending westward from the Oak Hill branch of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and southward to Arsenal Street. Eastward from the Blackmer and Post plant on the railroad north of Arsenal Street, to Kingshighway, the Reber Place subdivision area was also well built by 1904. Southward from Arsenal the only structures were the Insane Asylum and the Infirmary. For many years after the opening of West Tower Grove subdivision in 1897, the area north of Columbia and west of Macklind remained relatively undeveloped.

Natural expansion created the need for new residential areas after World War I, and Columbia-Macklind Heights was developed in 1922. In the next year, Submoor was platted on the west side of Sublette Avenue, reaching west to January. To the southwest of that, Hampton Terrace opened in 1923, followed by Arsenal-Watson Park in 1925. Int he are south of Arsenal Street, Regal Place and jasper Park were paltted in 1888-89 and were the only developments along Fyler Avenue until the Voester and Veterans Home Gardens Apartment project was developed in the early 1950's. About the same time, the last subdivisions in the Hill are were opened in 1949-55. These were the Porta, Rancilio Zona and Berra Court subdivisions, the latter being known officially as Fairmont Terrace.

Image- Early Immigrant Workers at Heinicke Coal Company.
Image- Workmen at the Progress Press Brick Company about 1910.
Image- A Group of Veteran Clay Mine Workers.