Central West End Neighborhood Overview
Information concerning the neighborhood history, characteristics, institutions and organizations, planning and development.
One of the Central West End’s major assets is its central location. Lying between Delmar Boulevard to the North, Interstate 64 to the South, North Vandeventer Avenue to the East, and Kingshighway and Union Boulevards via Lindell Boulevard to the West, it lends urban convenience to both its businesses and residents.
In the late 1870s, a 1400-acre city park was developed west of town that began to attract the area's wealthy elite who sought to escape the bustle of the city. Forest Park was developed and by 1888, this area expanded to include Central West End streets, such as Lindell Boulevard, while the CWE neighborhood developed Westmoreland and Portland places, along with Forest Park Terrace, all grand and lavish in style.
During the 1904 World's Fair, the Central West End was once again thrust into the spotlight, making it even more popular with the St. Louis social and business elite. Classic Central West End residences and architecture from this era can be found on what are now Lenox Place, Pershing Place, Kingsbury Place and Hortense Place. Euclid Avenue became the center of the CWE, and soon this location was recognized as the premier Forest Park neighborhood.
The Central West End area mostly prospered over the next 40 years, with the exception of the widespread and devastating effects of the Great Depression on St. Louis and the nation. By World War II, the blight that plagued many urban areas began to erode the grandeur of the CWE neighborhood, aided by the population's exodus to new and growing St. Louis area suburbs. However, Forest Park's museums and visitor attractions, including the world-famous St. Louis Zoo, continued to persevere. Washington University, to the west, and St. Louis University, to the east, gained notoriety for their broad academic excellence, especially within their medical schools, hospitals and law schools.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, with its magnificent dome and the largest collection of mosaics in the western hemisphere, became one of the most popular attractions of the Central West End, while CWE nightspots and hotels, such as the Chase and Park Plaza became a part of the skyline, and to this day, their form and architecture serve to define the Central West End style and culture. As one of the prime residences and locations near Barnes Jewish Hospital, Children's Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, the area is home to outstanding St. Louis-area healthcare options, and also serves patients from around the world.
After the famous St. Louis tornado of 1959 destroyed parts of the neighborhood, insurance money helped to repair the area and gave rise to the Gaslight District in the Central West End. The area developed a national reputation as an artistic incubator –hosting Central West End art shows, concerts, nightlife and other social events. Over the years, the area has been home to creative and famous Central West End residents, including Tennessee Williams, Kate Chopin, T.S. Eliot and William Burroughs.
Today, the Central West End has become and will continue to be one of the favorite neighborhoods in the St. Louis area.
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