Built St. Louis
South City: Soulard

Soulard dates back to the 1830s, and rapidly developed as a dense neighorhood filled with immigrants. It prospered into the 20th century. However, in the 1940s, as the era of highway planning and urban renewal was getting underway, Soulard was marked as a slum. Plagued by economic decline and abandonment, it was labeled blighted and obsolete, and condemned to wholesale obliteration. The entire neighborhood, according to the city's leaders, should be wiped off the map.

Interstate 55 did carve a huge gash through the neighborhood, anihilating a swath of the neighborhood over a hundred feet wide, and a dozen or more city blocks were erased from existance by the highway's interchange with I-44. More still was lost to the now-defunct Darst-Webbe housing project towers. But the rest of the city's "vision" never came to be, and by the early 1970s Soulard, like Lafayette Square and the Central West End, was starting on the path to renaissance thanks to local organizations and by-the-bootstraps renovators.

Today, the heart of the neighborhood stands only a short walk from the enormous urban void shown above. Though hundreds of buildings have been lost, hundreds more survive and are treasured by residents and visitors alike.

(Click for full-sized version) I-55 sliced away a vast section of Soulard, with hundreds of homes once standing where the traffic lanes sit today.

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