St. Louis history | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis history

Local historian NiNi Harris is the author of 14 volumes focused on the Gateway City’s history and architecture. She joined Thursday’s talk show to share highlights from her latest published work, “This Used to Be St. Louis.”
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

When NiNi Harris isn’t busy writing, she’s most likely reading – old documents such as city directories, that is.

“It sounds like I have a pretty boring life, doesn’t it?” the local historian said with a laugh on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “I read old census records.”

But it’s that very attention to such records that has led Harris to some of the most fascinating stories she tells in her books – 14 of which she’s published thus far.

Former Mayor Raymond Tucker (at right) and then-civic leader and bond issue chairman Sidney Maestre look out over an area of Mill Creek Valley slated for clearance in this photograph from 1956.
Missouri Historical Society

Gwen Moore can rattle off the names of all sorts of characters who once walked the streets of Mill Creek Valley, a historic St. Louis neighborhood demolished in the name of urban renewal in the late 1950s.

General William T. Sherman lived in Mill Creek at one point. The poet Walt Whitman stayed there during trips to visit his brother, and the owner of the Daily Missouri Republican also called the community home.

This album was recorded live at Club Imperial in 1965.
George Edick

When George Edick Jr. was in elementary school, he received a present he’ll never forget: a guitar from Ike Turner.

Edick grew up in the 1950s around musicians like Turner who played at his father’s Club Imperial, 6306-28 West Florissant Ave., in the Walnut Park West neighborhood in northwest St. Louis.

The run-down building escaped the wrecking ball last month after the St. Louis Preservation Board voted to save it.

This is a recent photo of the building that once housed Club Imperial.
Robert Vroman

Updated Jan. 23 — A building that was the site of an historic St. Louis music venue will remain standing, at least for the time being.

The St. Louis Preservation Board Monday night unanimously backed a decision to deny a demolition permit for the former Club Imperial.

Building owner Robert Vroman, who bought the building last August in an auction, said he hopes public attention will entice a new buyer with plans to restore the space. The deadline for paying additional taxes is summer 2019, Vroman said. He said that if no one steps forward with a renovation offer by then, he’ll let the property return to the city for another tax auction.

St. Louis author Ken McGee talks about his latest historical novel, “The Great Hope of the World.”
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

The construction of the Eads Bridge a century and a half ago almost made St. Louis one of the most important cities in the country. The steel combined road and railway bridge over the Mississippi River brought rail and other traffic from the east to St. Louis and beyond.

The bridge serves as the backstory to St. Louis author Ken McGee’s latest historical novel “The Great Hope of the World.”

Helen Lubeley Murray fills the display cases at Lubeley's Bakery Thursday morning.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

 Customers have been lining up before sunrise all this week at Lubeley’s Bakery and Deli in south St. Louis County for one last chance to buy their favorite strudels and stollens and split-layer cakes. The bakery will close on Saturday, after 80 years of business in the St. Louis area.

Helen Lubeley Murray said she and her brother Bob — who took over the bakery from their parents four decades ago — are going to hang up their aprons and retire.

Peggy Hubbard breaks up a small scuffle between demonstrators over whether a Black Lives Matter sign could be placed in the arm of the soldier on the statue on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.
Jenny Simeone-Cases | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 31 with information on aldermanic hearing — St. Louis’ parks committee weighed in Wednesday on the controversy surrounding the memorial to Confederate soldiers in Forest Park.

The first in a series of hearings on a bill sponsored by Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, came the day after those for and against keeping the monument in its current location held simultaneous protests.

Marcia and Tim Dorsey's fully rehabbed 1850s stone house in Carondelet. Marcia lived in this house when she was a girl, but after it left her family's hands, the home fell into disrepair. In 2014, the Dorseys began the process of rehabilitating it.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Just east of Broadway in the Patch neighborhood of Carondelet stands a small, rough-cut stone house. The structure, over 160 years old, is set to receive a 'Most Enhanced' building award from the Landmarks Association of St. Louis this Thursday evening.

Maureen Kavanaugh recently released an updated version of Elizabeth McNulty’s popular book “St. Louis Then and Now,” which pairs archive and contemporary photographs that tell the story of St. Louis through its landmarks.

On Tuesday, Kavanaugh joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the updated book.

“Some of it is exactly the same,” Kavanaugh said of the book.

In most circumstances, the ‘then’ and ‘now’ photos are taken from the same angle, though Kavanaugh said that wasn’t possible in every instance because of new construction.

A mob stops a street car during the East St. Louis race riots, which started on July 2, 1917.
University of Massachusetts-Amherst Libraries

The East St. Louis race riots have gone down in history as some of the worst examples of race relations in the St. Louis region. This Sunday, May 28, is the 100-year anniversary of the first, smaller riot. July 2 is the 100-year anniversary of one of the bloodiest race riots in the 1900s.

Related: St. Louis History in Black and White: East St. Louis Race Riot

The floating McDonald's was a fixture on the St. Louis riverfront for 20 years but closed in 2000.
(Courtesy of Cameron Collins)

Do you pine for the swinging orange chairs and plush booths of The Parkmoor? Do you miss the thrill of the Coral Court Motel on Watson? Do you wish you could visit the orange soda-guzzling Phil the Gorilla, the king of the St. Louis Zoo?

You’re not alone in that pang you feel when you think back on the bygone St. Louis institutions of yesteryear. Cameron Collins, the author of the popular local Distilled History blog, has felt the nostalgia too.

Joe Edwards at Chuck Berry at Blueberry Hill.
Courtesy Blueberry Hill

Legendary musician Chuck Berry, the “poet laureate” of rock 'n roll, died Saturday, at his home in St. Charles. He left behind him a changed world of music, culture, friendship and a dedication to the St. Louis region that continued until the very end.

Related: Obituary: Chuck Berry dies. He was the ‘poet laureate’ of rock ‘n’ roll

Gwen Moore and Percy Green joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the Missouri History Museum's recent exhibit "#1 in Civil Rights."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you remember the day two St. Louis activists climbed 125 feet up a construction ladder on the unfinished north leg of the Gateway Arch, you remember a key moment of the civil rights movement in St. Louis. Percy Green was one of the people who climbed the Arch on July 14, 1964.

Rebecca Copeland, Rob Maesaka and Suzanne Sakahara discussed the history and legacy of Japanese internment, almost 75 years after the executive order that paved the way for it was signed.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Retired Lindenwood University professor Suzanne Sakahara was just six years old when she witnessed two FBI agents enter her house on Vashon Island, Washington, in 1942. They searched the house from top to bottom, looking for hunting rifles and radios for confiscation.

“They even looked in the kitchen at the length of our knives,” Sakahara said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “If you had too long of a knife, they confiscated it.”

Dick Henmi is a noted St. Louis architect, best known for the so-called "flying saucer" building on Grand, but his journey to St. Louis started during a dark period of American history.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you don’t know Richard (Dick) Henmi by name, you definitely know one of his most iconic contributions to St. Louis’ architectural assembly: the so-called "flying saucer" building in Council Plaza off of Grand Boulevard. Henmi designed that building in 1967.

Jim Merkel is the author of "Colorful Characters of St. Louis."
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has a colorful past filled with interesting characters, so it makes sense that local author Jim Merkel would turn his next literary sights on the people that made St. Louis what it is today.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, Merkel discussed his book, “Colorful Characters of St. Louis” with host Don Marsh.

Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau are credited with the founding of St. Louis in 1764.
Wikimedia Commons

The common version of the founding of St. Louis goes something like this: Pierre Laclède was told by the French government to travel from New Orleans and construct a trading post near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers in 1763. Bringing along his stepson, Auguste Chouteau, in early 1764, Laclède opened a trading post 18 miles south of the confluence in what would become St. Louis.

In 1916, women in St. Louis brought an era of non-violent protest to the women's suffrage movement.
Wikimedia Commons | http://bit.ly/2bzknmM

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we looked back on a movement 100 years ago in St. Louis when 3,000 women marched to remind Democratic National Convention attendees that women still didn’t have the right to vote. That was in June of 1916, four years before women won the right to cast ballots on Aug. 26, 1920, when the Nineteenth Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution.

St. Louis Fire, illustration in a German book from 1857.
Henry Lewis | Wikimedia Commons

Fires, floods, tornadoes, oh my! St. Louis has been witness to many kinds of disaster over the years and on Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we talked about the most disastrous ones … and where you can find remnants of their existence still today.

Bulldozers and dump trucks are what's in store for the vacant mall most recently known as Crestwood Court as redevelopment plans are in the works. Thousands of residents came to say good-bye at a food truck festival held Saturday.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Santa Claus. That’s the first thing Carol Feldman thinks of when she recalls her childhood memories of the mall known then as Crestwood Plaza off Watson Road.

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