City Stories

St. Louis, MO

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The Story of North St Louis and more…

Today, the city of St Louis is mostly African-American with the exception to neighborhoods of South St. Louis that are west of S. Grand Blvd. being predominantly white.

St Louis Black History

Before the 1950s and St Louis’ large black population, there were only a few black communities in the city of St Louis.

The first communities were Mill Creek Valley, the Ville, Finney Avenue District, DeSoto-Carr, or Compton Hill on the South Side around Park Avenue.

Mill Creek Valley was the largest all-black community, being located in downtown St Louis from Grand Boulevard to N. 18th Street centered around Market Street.

The Ville was the home to some of the country’s first all-black institutions like Sumner High School and housed a number of famous people like Arthur Ashe, Dick Gregory, and Tina Turner.

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Unfortunately, most of these communities were destroyed during the 1950s and 60s as the city was experiencing urban renewal and slum clearance in sections of the St Louis ghetto.

Mill Creek Valley was transformed into one of St Louis’ busiest business district.

DeSoto-Carr, which was once labeled as the worst St. Louis ghetto, was replaced by housing projects like Cochran, Pruitt-Igoe, and George Vaughn.

Pruitt-Igoe, a 33 high rise building complex, was one of the biggest housing projects in the country and the first housing project to be torn down in the late 1970s.

The segregated housing project, with the Igoe complex for white families and the Pruitt complex for black families, was actually too large.

When many white families began to leave for St Louis County during the 60s and 70s, much of the complex became vacant, lacked proper upkeep or became crime infested.

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The West Side’s Fountain Park neighborhood a couple of blocks from Taylor Avenue.

Eventually, the once segregated city with Taylor Avenue being the racial dividing line, changed as black families were able to move into other parts of the city.

The West Side was one of the first areas to become predominantly black and after Pruitt-Igoe was demolished many African-Americans moved further into North St Louis.


The Streets: History of North St Louis Gangs

The St Louis ghetto is one of the roughest in the country and has given North St Louis the rank as the most dangerous city a number of times.

The change in the streets started during the 1980s as the movie “Colors” brought the attention of Los Angeles’ gang culture to the city.

This was followed by people from California establishing gang sets through their drug connections in a number of North St Louis neighborhoods.

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The West Side’s 5-9 neighborhood.

In the 90s, the St Louis ghetto was mostly made up of Bloods on the West Side with the exception of 59 Wabada, 57 Cates and 13 BOD.

The old BoysOfDestruction (13 BOD) neighborhood, also known as the 5-7.

While the North Side was mainly Rollin’ 60s and East Coast 6 Deuce Crips, other than Walnut Park and a few blocks around Grand Blvd., like JVL or Beam Street.

Before the Los Angeles gangs, many areas had already neighborhood affiliations or cliques as the streets started to become active in the St Louis ghetto.

Some of the old school gangs were JVL Posse, WestSide Rockers, Horseshoe Posse, VTO (Vaughn Takin’ Over), Thunderkats of Lawton Place, or Boys of Destruction.

Graffiti of JVL, a neighborhood from Grand to Jefferson between Cass and MLK.

Not until the introduction of drugs of the late 1980s, did these neighborhoods become gang affiliated with ties to Los Angeles gangs.

With Bloods starting on the West Side in areas like the Horseshoe and Crips starting on the North Side in areas like O’Fallon Park, ‘hoods began to break their ties with Los Angeles during the 1990s.

By the mid 2000s, gangs in St Louis began to fade away as most of the people of that era were killed or sent to prison.

north st louis black history

The rebuilt community that was formerly the Blumeyer housing project.

Many of the original ‘hoods have either become vacant or were later demolished which created many ghost sets.

Areas like the Stroll around N. Sarah and Delmar, 1100 Rose (1100 Penrose St), former housing projects like Blumeyer, or blocks in the North St Louis section of the West End.


Today’s North St Louis / South St Louis

Right after the white flight into the suburbs of St Louis County, the city began to decline.

As people became able to afford housing in other areas, the St Louis ghetto became plagued with vacant lots and houses throughout most of North St Louis.

Today, the city of St Louis is changing as many in today’s North St Louis are relocating into the far South Side and into North St Louis County.

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The former South Side community known as the Dark Side.

The once dilapidated downtown has become redeveloped, while the black community of South St Louis has been almost completely demolished due to close locations to St. Louis University, Botanical Gardens, and Downtown.

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Today’s West End neighborhood

The West End community, between Page and Delmar, with its close location to Central West End and Delmar Loop, along with areas around Delmar and Cass Avenue are also in the process of rebuilding.

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Today’s Ville neighborhood.

In some cases, many properties are being left abandoned and allowed to deteriorate throughout parts of the city.

Even though the city is steadily losing population, the streets of St. Louis are still one of the most active in the country.


Check out more on St. Louis and Missouri with videos, maps, and more.

*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research.  Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.