Sunday, January 31, 2010

Boulevard Heights Neighborhood

Boulevard Heights is located in south St. Louis roughly bound by Gravois on the west, the city limits to the south and Holly Hills/Loughborough on the north and I-55 and Grand to the east:
In full disclosure, I've lived in this neighborhood for nearly 5 years.

It's an oddly shaped neighborhood that does not include Carondelet Park nor the Loughborough Commons shopping center.  I always thought the River Des Peres was the dividing line between the city and the county, but the map above from the city website shows the city limits extending south of River Des Peres to Weber road.  The neighborhood has some areas that are typical of south city, a la Holly Hills, Princeton Heights, Southampton, etc.  Other parts of the neighborhood are more suburban with cul de sacs and no sidewalks, etc.

The BH website claims to be the safest residential neighborhood in the entire city.  I think this is generally true.  We've had no problems living here, and people look out for each other.  There is somewhat of an identity crisis in BH, not unlike the Patch:Carondelet situation, many in BH think they live in Holly Hills.  In fact the Holly Hills Improvement Association represents part of Boulevard Heights.  Notice in the photos how many Holly Hills signs and flags are present in BH.

BH lost 5% of its population from 1990 to 2000.  Census data counted 8,503 residents in 2000, 95% of which were white, 2% Hispanic/Latino, 2% Asian and 1% black.  There were 3,939 total households, 57% of which are "family households"-78% are married.  That's a very high marriage rate.  Of the 4,093 total housing units, 96% were occupied.  85% by owner, 15% rental.  BH is one of the rare neighborhoods that gained in population from 2000-2010, albeit a mere 2.3% increase.  90% white and ~3% each for Asian, black and Hispanic/Latino counts.

This neighborhood is home to much greenspace, several large cemeteries, mixed architecture, quality necessary services, some cool independent businesses.  This is also a very socially conservative part of town.  Not that that's a bad thing, I'm just sayin'.  Many cops and firemen and city employees live here.  I think it's one of the neighborhoods that people that HAVE to live in the city due to residency requirements choose because it's the most reminiscent of the county or a mid-century suburb, and again it's a very safe and quiet neighborhood.  Don't just take my word for it, read the sign:
For what ever reason, this sign cracks me up.  What is this sign attempting to accomplish?  Beware all you drivers with the booming systems...all you air horn holders, keep em securely tucked away in the glove box when you pass through BH....they'll track your honkin' ass down.  Makes me want to lay on the horn as I drive by.  I mean, what is loud, what is too loud, what's up with the range in the monetary fine?  What constitutes a $500 fine?  Is someone supposed to see this sign and turn down their radio?  Why did we spend tax dollars on this?  Something tells me this guy would not be welcome performing along Loughborough:

Wow, I've digressed, enough on the sign already.  Anyhow, if you are a walker, runner or bicyclist, you'd love it here due to the fantastic Great Rivers Greenway trail that goes right through BH as well as the marked bike lanes along Christy and Holly Hills heading toward Carondelet Park.  Carondelet Park recently installed a jogging path that is extremely popular and creates a lot of activity and vibrance to the park.  I can't tell you how much the pedestrian/bike trail has improved BH.  Before it existed, Christy Park/Frank Leisure Park/St. Marcus Park between Holly Hills and the River Des Peres was just a swath of unused ground that the city mowed (infrequently).  Nobody, I mean nobody was seen in the park.  There were homeless people living in several areas of St. Marcus Park complete with mattresses and cardboard walls.  The new path changed everything, it's made the neighborhood safer in that I trust my kids to run around by themselves more now that there are extra eyes on the street so to speak.   Here's a before picture:
Since the GRG project was completed, there are now hundreds of trees, tons of bikers, dog walkers, joggers, etc enjoying the paths and adding vibrancy and life to a once boring stretch of unused land. Bravo to Great Rivers Greenway and the city of St. Louis park's dept. for kicking it up a notch and really staying on top of park maintenance now that the parks are actually used.
I'd like to see St. Marcus Park, a former cemetery rededicated as a park in honor of veterans of all wars, see some improvement as many of the monuments that were left have been vandalized or simply knocked over.  Here's a couple of the sights at St. Marcus Park:
 
Some of the gravestones were constructed into a series of walls:


  
  
  
  
Most of the veterans are from World War I, but some date back to the nineteenth century.

I have nothing to note that has gotten particularly worse in my neighborhood in the last 5 years.  The main improvements have been the shuttered 7-11 at Gravois and Loughborough was renovated and now has a Papa John's in it.  This was a net gain over the shuttered convenience store, but it resulted in the closing of the Papa John's just up the street in Princeton Heights. The old Aamco Transmission property is now a QT, the shuttered BP/Amoco station at Germania/Gravois is now a CVS pharmacy; the first CVS to enter the St. Louis market (Olivette and SoCo are not St. Louis).  The former Goodwill (which I miss) on Morganford was handsomly renovated into a Plumbers Supply and Dollar Tree.  Yes, I understand these are auto-centric developments, but they are upgrades over what was there before.  In some cases incremental change is better than nothing at all. The site of the former city greenhouses was converted to a new housing area called Boulevard Heights
Here are some more unique businesses, bars, restaurants worth trying if you are in Boulevard Heights:

Gyro Company on Gravois and Allemania:


Apollonia at Gravois and Loughborough; home of great hamburgers, mousaka, chicken gyro salad, lamb slouvlaki, pasticco, dalmades and spanakopita
The Haven at 6625 Morganford recently re-opened.  I haven't been there yet, but the sign is undeniably cool:



















Garavaglia's Hilltop Inn is one of my favorite beer guzzling joints and their burgers are pretty good.  This place in many ways epitomized the southside bar.  I like the Bud signs too:
 
 
The Sno-Cone stand at Morgan Ford and Loughborough is a popular gathering place for summer refreshment (home of extremely nice owners, homemade syrup flavors and best sno-cone in town):
 
A violin maker and hair salon occupy some handsome retail spaces on Loughborough at Morganford:


There are also some notably attractive building along Gravois between Kingshighway and Loughborough:
 
  
 












I'll also try to give you a feel of some of the varied housing styles available in Boulevard Heights.

Some homes on the north and north western side of BH are more like typical south side neighborhood like Holly Hills, Princeton Height, :Southampton and North Hampton.  Check out these timeless beauties:
 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
I love the corner windows on this next home:


 Here are some more sights along Morganford.  This firehouse is home to some of the nicest firemen around.  They have let my sons gawk at the trucks and are great with the kids:
 
 
The south side of Boulevard Heights near the county border is a little more reminiscent of Affton, Lemay, Mehlville and other South St. Louis County suburban municipalities.  There are post war frame houses, typically wood sided and some ranch homes:
 
  
  
 
The closer you get to the city limits, the more suburban the neighborhood settings become:


  
Here's an all metal house (roof, walls, etc.) along Germania:
 
 If you are looking for a safe and quiet neighborhood, with many convenient services near by and are a lover of pedestrian paths, check out Boulevard Heights!  It's also a couple miles from the Shrewsbury Metrolink stop!

8 comments:

AmyH said...

I think that metal house is a Lustron Home. How cool!

http://www.lustronconnection.org/home.html

Matt M. said...

I don't know what else to say...your tours are awesome. We NEED to do a Skyscraper Page Thread ASAP.

Anonymous said...

Great site! Holly hills is officially loughborough on south, morganford on west, grand on east and bates on north. City definitions of most neighborhoods do not meet what neighborhood leaders define. We are working with city officials to pair that down. Bh is now referenced as south of loughborough to river DES Peres.

Michael Lewyn said...

Somewhere in the city, I can't remember where, there used to be a bus bench advertising the Haven's "old fashioned brain sandwiches."

Maybe there still is.

Anonymous said...

One of your photos shows the clock on the 6800 block of Gravois (the one with the red neon light around it).I wish that clock had the right time! I'm tempted to climb up there and set it myself.Does anyone know if it belongs to the city? I feel kind of silly, but I e-mailed the alderman to ask him about it a few months ago. I got no response:(

Anonymous said...

Is there a neighborhood association for BH? If so when and where do they meet?

Anonymous said...

Does BH have a neighborhood association? If so when and where is it?

Mark Groth said...

^When I lived there, they had a neighborhood association that met at Immaculate Heart of Mary. Email alderman Arnowitz for the current set up:

http://stlouis-mo.gov/government/departments/aldermen/profiles/larry-arnowitz.cfm