Skinker DeBaliviere Neighborhood Overview
Information concerning the neighborhood history, characteristics, institutions and organizations, planning and development.
The neighborhood is defined by Delmar Boulevard on the North, Forsyth Boulevard and Lindell Boulevard on the South, DeBaliviere Avenue on the East, and by the City limits on the West.
Designated a Local Historic District by the City of St. Louis in 1978, the Skinker/DeBaliviere neighborhood displays some of the most beautiful variety of architecture in the City. The 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (World’s Fair) was a catalyst for the building of many architecturally significant homes on the land adjacent to Forest Park. These homes include those in Julius Pitzman’s Parkview Place (1905), which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Washington Heights was platted in 1907 to encompass the area between Delmar and the Forest Park Parkway and between Skinker Boulevard and Des Peres Avenue. The Catlin Tract (1909) and the Washington Heights Addition (1910) followed shortly thereafter. The River Des Peres caused periodic severe flooding in the neighborhood, especially devastating in 1915, until the massive containment project of 1929–31, by which time few vacant lots remained.
DeBaliviere and Delmar Avenues were streets of considerable commercial importance in the years 1920-50, with major food and drug stores, theaters, and restaurants.
Abundant shopping opportunities - combined with good access to public transportation, including four streetcar routes—encouraged the development of the neighborhood in the years following the World’s Fair. With the opening of two easily accessible MetroLink stations (DeBaliviere and Delmar’s Wabash), the neighborhood has regained this historic characteristic.
In the 1950s many families who were displaced by the demolition of the Mill Creek project relocated into Skinker/DeBaliviere. The increased population density and overuse of housing, particularly apartment buildings, caused deterioration and led to the formation of neighborhood groups, as early as 1958, to combat this negative trend. The neighborhood experienced severe population losses from 1960–80. In the mid to late seventies, a variety of rehabilitation projects were developed and housing values began to rebound.