Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Cheltenham Neighborhood

Cheltenham is a south St. Louis neighborhood bound by Oakland to the north, Manchester
to the south, Macklind to the east and Hampton to the west:
The 2000 census counted a mere 480 residents (20% decline from 1990s count) of whom 14% were black, 80% white, 2% Asian and 2% Hisp/Latino. Only 262 housing units were counted, 90% occupied, split 55%/45% owner/renter.  Obviously, this is not a largely residential neighborhood, and the data suggest a substantial loss of residents from 1990 to 2000.  I imagine this will stabilize and maybe even go up a little in the 2010 census counts based on the Cortona Lofts at the Highlands development.  UPDATED with 2010 Census data:  2010 Census data counted 620 residents, indicating a ~22% increase. The racial breakdown shifted as well to 67% white, 15% black, 11% Asian and 4% Hisp/Latino.

Most of the houses in Cheltenham are frame homes and exist in the southwest portion of the neighborhood:
^Not sure what the sign above the door means, but it piqued my curiosity.

A little history on this pocket of St. Louis:
The history of Cheltenham goes back to 1798. The area then was known to run from what we now call Kingshighway on the east and went as far as the City limits on the west end. At that time River de Peres was a clear crystal stream. It made a good area for settlements. In later years, immigrants were drawn to the area because they needed work. The factories sprung up with the mining of clay. The earliest and largest of the enterprises was the Laclede Fire Brick Company, which began in 1844., but expanded rapidly with the coming of the railroad. Irish, Italian,German, and Polish immigrants came to wok in the factories. In 1861 the Catholic Diocese established a mission which grew into St. James the Greater Parish. The Cheltenham public school opened in 1868. By World War II, most of the mines had shut down and the brick yards had closed. Subdivisions were built over the mines and pits.  Source
I'm kind of surprised the website doesn't mention the Highlands Amusement Park or the Arena.  The Arena will always be the Checkerdome to me, as this is where I saw my first Blues game, and witnessed a fight that broke out in the stands....I was hooked.  People would be walking to the games through the neighborhood carrying 12 packs of Busch on the way to the old barn.  Mullets were commonly sighted.

The original incarnation:

The one I was used to:

Cheltenham was also home to the Highlands, a park that started as a beer garden in 1896 and evolved into an amusement park the operated into the 1960's when a fire destroyed most of the park on July 19, 1963.  It boasted one of the largest public swimming pools in the nation and the roller coasters were huge attractions in their day and there is a book devoted to the Highlands that chronicles the amusement park's history.

You can view many some of the roller coasters here.

You can't deny the awesome location of Cheltenham.  It's a stones throw to Forest Park, the shopping and services on Hampton Avenue, the access to I-64, the proximity to Barnes-Jewish, the Central West End, Forest Park Southeast and the Grove strip of Manchester.

The northern edge of Cheltenham contains the Highlands offices & lofts and Forest Park Community College.
There is a relative new Hampton Inn and 3 office complexes within the Highlands development.  There is retail space in one of the office buildings, home to a Jimmy Johns.  There is a restaurant/bar called the Highlander and Barnes Jewish has a facility as well:
 The lofts are attractive and have surely added some residents to the area:
There are many businesses offices and industries mainly along Macklind and Manchester, but also within the neighborhood:

^I wonder if the lobby smells like onions?

^Tarlton contractors has a facility in Chetenham, kind of reminds me of a fort:

American Pulverizer has a handsome office building along Macklind and a pretty cool sign toward the back of the property:

The Humane Society of Missouri is also located along Macklind:

There aren't many independent restaurants or bars, but I did come across a few:
^Nicks' Pub at Manchester and Sulphur.
^Imo's pizza at Hampton and Oakland.
^The Arena Bar and Grill, I bet this place was jumping when the Checkerdome/Arena was in full swing.  This place reminds me of small town bars in New England.

The cool looking firehouse along Manchester:
As you can see, Cheltenham is a mostly industrial neighborhood and is anchored by the Forest Park Community College, Humane Society and the Highlands offices/condos.

Cheltenham used to be home to Fox 2 News along Berthold, right off of Hampton, but they recently chose to abandon the city who they are supposed to be covering, and set up shop in the bland town of Maryland Heights, MO near Page and Lindbergh.  It's like they never left, the satellites and signage is still there:

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