Sunday, October 25, 2009

McKinley Heights Neighborhood

McKinley Heights is an officially designated historic neighborhood right in the middle of some of St. Louis' most famous neighborhoods. It is just south of Lafayette Square, west of Soulard, north of Benton Park and east of Fox Park. A great location if you ask me. One of my favorite St. Louis streets is Russell. From Broadway all the way to Vandeventer, I think this is one of the most beautiful and representative streets of the unique St. Louis neighborhoods and architecture, and it goes right through McKinley Heights.McKinley Heights is just about as diverse as a St. Louis neighborhood gets. The 2000 census data indicated a mix of mainly black and white people at 35% and 60% respectively; Hispanics (2.2%) and Asians (1.5%) make up the rest. 2,085 McKinley Heights residents were counted, a 7.1% decrease or 159 residents lost since 1990.  2000-2010 was not kind on McKinley Heights were a 28% loss was observed with a racial breakdown of 48% white, 46% black, 3% Hispanic/Latino and 1% Asian.

This neighborhood is one of my favorites. The tree lined streets are on a rectilinear grid. If the housing market comes around and we can sell our home, this will be one of the places on our list to move. MH is just about the perfect mix of small, medium and large dwellings (nearly all brick) with many of the architectural styles that makes St. Louis the great city it is:Fire escapes are one of my favorite urban fixtures:Not to mention, my kids will eventually go to McKinley School on Russell, so walking to school would be a huge plus, even though they ride the bus today. And, the school itself is a work of art:
As is Sigel elementary on Allen:The neighborhood could use a few more small businesses to accentuate the truly self contained and walkable configuration of the streets and neighborhood. If you want a cup of coffee, cold beer or a quick meal (not Jack in the Box), you'd have to take a short walk to Soulard and crossing Gravois is a death wish. If ever there was a place for a traffic signal and marked pedestrian crossing, it's here. The McKinley Heights website does a good job of listing the businesses that do exist in the neighborhood. The neighborhood area is actually quite small, but I like that. The interior containing most of the the residential property is clean and tidy and for the most part is in just about as good of condition that homes this old can be. Many are rehab ready, many have already been carefully redone. There is a good mix of multi-unit rentals, multi-families and single family options.There are also some really cool looking warehouses and old business properties within the neighborhood. Here's an old funeral home:
The churches are varied and interesting:Unfortunately, the retail and residential along Jefferson and Gravois is not the most inviting. There are some rough properties. However, most are simply cool old buildings that are vacated and awaiting good tenants. There are also some really good signs of life on Jefferson from Gravois to I-44.Art gallery:Barber shops and a Nicaraguan restaurant:
There are also some mistakes that need rectification, like the boarded up suburban styled Burger King across from the Way Out Club. This is a total eyesore. However, for the most part, MH has avoided many of the uglier modern developments that plague other neighborhoods.

On to Princeton Heights and Boulevard Heights, and then "the Heights" neighborhoods are completed. Interested in a particular neighborhood? I'll go there next. Let me know.

13 comments:

Joseph said...

Cool stuff. That is definitely an overlooked neighborhood, but it is total old school St. Louis. I agree that they need more retail since it isn't much of a destination neighborhood. I also gotta agree about Russell being one of city's best streets, I love the fact that it has a bike lane for at least half of its length.

STLgasm said...

Thanks for highlighting one of the most overlooked sections of South City. Our production studio (STL-Style) is located in the Jefferson Underground building (a former Chevrolet dealership), and we enjoy being part of the neighborhood. Sandwiched between Soulard, Lafayette Square, Benton Park and Tower Grove, McKinley Heights retains a gritty character that keeps it affordable and attractive to artists and musicians. I think Much improvement could be done to improve the pedestrian experience on Jefferson. It's a wide street, but it has managed to maintain its physical density that is ripe for new businesses. I can only imagine what a vital intersection Gravois and Jefferson was back in the day. It's very evident that streetcars were the lifeblood of this commercial district.

Brian said...

I'd love to see someone take on that boarded-up warehouse - so much potential there. Those windows would be amazing.

Matt M. said...

Let's see...which neighborhood next or do you want another vaguely logical grouping...?

You could do "micro-neighborhoods"--those little autonomous wedges that the city felt were distinctive enough to give their own neighborhood to. I'm talking Kings Oak, Visitation Park, and Columbus Square.

As far as pictures, I'd like to see someone do some really nice photography of the West End neighborhood (on the North Side). West Cabanne Place is so pretty, and yet it's hard to find any photos online.

Matt M. said...

Add LaSalle Park, Tiffany, and the Near South Side to that list of micro-neighborhoods as well.

framiko said...

Great post! I have to confess that I stole your idea and did a post on my own blog about Fox Park the other day. Here's a link to it, if you're interested. Keep up your inspiring work. This is one of my new favorite blogs.

Mark Groth said...

framiko, nice blog. I too am a big fan of Fox Park.

MattM, I like the idea of exploring the smaller neighborhoods. The ones you mention would be great starts. I am interested in Patch, as I've never been there and I live so close.

Anonymous said...

I am a local real estate agent. My peers and I agree that McKinley Heights is one of the best and underrated values in the city. Property values will continue to increase in 2011 and beyond. Lots of good deals in MH on homes and vacant land.

Jenn said...

Just ran across your blog while doing a google search. I love this post about McKinley Heights (my 'hood). I moved into MH in August of 2009 and for the most part have been very happy here. Looking forward to poking around your blog a bit more!

Jenn said...

Just ran across your blog while doing a google search. I love this post about McKinley Heights (my 'hood). I moved into MH in August of 2009 and for the most part have been very happy here. Looking forward to poking around your blog a bit more!

Kerri said...

Great Blog! We've been here nearly twenty years this time. Lived here from 86 to 89 before returning west. Missed the architecture, brick, people, just about everything really, so we returned in early 1993 and hopefully will never leave.

Thank you for looking deeper "under the neighbor-hood" at place often overlooked.

Anonymous said...

Mark, excellent blog. Since I've embarked on my quest to buy a home in the city I have utilized your blog extensively. e have since decided on MH as our future residence. Can't thank you enough for your insights and always look forward to reading more from a concerned citizen such as yourself.

Thanks, LM

Writing Is said...

We have been looking at places in the MH area recently and occasionally I see it listed on real estate sites as "Allen's Lafayette Park Add" does anyone have an idea what this is about or the origin of the name? For curiosity's sake. Cheers, Chad