The Ville Neighborhood Overview
Information concerning the neighborhood history, characteristics, institutions and organizations, planning and development.
The Ville is situated just northwest of downtown St. Louis, and covers a roughly nine-by-five-block area. This area is bounded by Taylor Avenue on the West, St. Louis Avenue on the North, Sarah Street on the East, and Martin Luther King Drive on the South.
The Ville traces its name back to when the area was called Elleardsville after a prominent resident of the area, Charles Elleard, who once owned the Ville land. St. Louis annexed this area in 1876. Originally home to German and Irish immigrants and a small proportion of African Americans, the Ville is most widely recognized for the strength of the African-American community that developed in the neighborhood by 1930. The Ville’s rise to the status of St. Louis’ premier African-American neighborhood was due partly to the great institutions and business that were locating in the Ville area, but also largely to the shaping forces of racial restrictive covenants in parts of St. Louis. At a time when these covenants barred blacks and other minorities access to purchasing homes in much of St. Louis, the Ville was able to withstand these pressures and its population rose in response to 95% African-American. The Ville, at this point in time, was a neighborhood that educated, housed, and entertained a stable cross section of economic classes within the African-American community. Since the 1948 Supreme Court ruling that restrictive covenants were unconstitutional, the population in the Ville has suffered from steady decline. Between 1950 and 1970, the total population in the Ville dropped by nearly 38 percent.