Category Archives: maps

The Great Migration

The Great Migration is a critically important aspect of American history that must be understood if we are to make any sense whatsoever of the current state of race relations. The following map depicts a specifically delineated, defined transfer of African Americans from the South to the Northeast, the upper Midwest and West.

The Great Migration

Bartholomew’s City Plan (1947)

City Planner Harland Bartholomew developed a detailed, comprehensive plan for St. Louis which documents the existing conditions at the time and projected future development based upon increasing population density and totals. In actuality, the city’s population peaked shortly thereafter and then following a steady decline as St. Louis County became increasingly suburbanized.

This chart presents four primary demographics. The top line represents the population of the United States (dashed lines at right indicate projected figures). The second pair of lines represent the populations of the states of Illinois and Missouri. The third line represents the City of St. Louis. The shorter line at the bottom represents St. Louis County.

Population growth (historical and projected)

This analysis of the population of the region formed the basis for the comprehensive plan. The caption for this illustration (Plate Number Two) reads, “St. Louis cannot expect sizeable population increases in the future.”

This pair of maps compares the population density within the boundaries of the City of St. Louis as of 1940 (top) and the projected/desired density as of 1970 (bottom):

Population density (historical and projected)

As illustrated, Bartholomew suggests that the density of the city’s core would increase and that the westward expansion would not only stop, but actually be reversed. The same desire for increasing the density in the center of the city has been suggested as desirable and ideal by many urban planners since, but the reality has been exactly the opposite.

The multicolored plan below represents Bartholomew’s ideal Land Use Plan. The reality is much more complex and heterogeneous. Achieving such clarity in function and use was a dream for planners of the modern American city was an ideal never to be attained in practice.

Desirable Ultimate Land Use Plan

The mismatch between the actual and zoned uses are indicated in this diagram of the Lafayette Neighborhood District. These drawings compare the existing land uses with the existing zoning. Clearly the actual facts on the ground were much more heterogeneous, mixed and complex than the simplistic organization suggested by the area’s zoning.

Lafayette Neighborhood District (present land use and present zoning)

The serious nature of reconfiguring the city to correspond to the desired land uses is suggested by the sample rezoning of a neighborhood in this series of plans for the Macklind Neighborhood District. From left to right the drawings depict: Present Land Use, Present Zoning and Proposed Zoning. Clearly to achieve the purity of the desired zoning would require major alterations to the city fabric.

Macklind Neighborhood District (present and proposed uses)

Achieving the clarity of vision suggested by the “Desirable Ultimate Land Use Plan” (above) would require massive rebuilding of the city as suggested by the following plan which highlights in red areas of Substandard Housing (“a measure of obsolescence and blight”).

Substandard Housing

The plan indicates two areas of city which would require massive reconstruction. The red hatched areas indicate “blighted areas” and the black hatched areas indicate “obsolete districts”.
Obsolete and Blighted Districts

A key method for determining whether districts were obsolete and/or blighted involved determining how many residences in the area relied on outside toilets. This map documents the absolute numbers (red figures) and the density of such conditions in the city. In general, the closer to the riverfront and the older the age of the structure, the more likely that they did not include indoor plumbing.

Percentage of Dwelling Units with Outside Toilets

The necessity for rebuilding the city along different lines altogether is made bluntly clear by this suburbanized images of a redesigned Soulard. To Bartholomew’s way of thinking, this district was entirely obsolete and needed wholesale replacement.

Soulard Neighborhood District

The following map delineates neighborhoods (outlined in red) and industrial districts (highlighted in yellow). In general, the greatest density of industrial districts were located along the Mississippi River or along the Mill Creek Valley area. Both of these areas were served by extensive rail networks. These areas remain largely industrial in nature with greatly reduced railroad activity, however many of these tracks remain in place.

Neighborhood and Industrial Districts

The plan features two maps indicating the massive investments in upgrading infrastructure the city was undertaking. The first indicates the many improvements that were a part of the 1923 Bond Issue. The largest projects included major upgrades to the system supplying potable drinking water for the city ($11,000,000) and construction of the River Des Peres drainage system beginning in Forest Park, extending through the south city before draining into the Mississippi River.

Other significant improvements included the following new structures in the downtown area: Civil Courts Building, Municipal Opera House, Municipal Power Plant and the Soldiers Memorial. Other amenities included a series of public hospitals, fire houses, parks, playgrounds, sewer upgrades and a major street lighting program. Public spaces to be improved included Union Station Plaza and Memorial Plaza. The total cost of the 1923 Bond Issue exceeded $67,000,000).

1923 Bond Issue

Further investments in the city were made as part of the “Post War Bond Issue” of 1944 which totaled more than $63,000,000 and included improvements to streets, water systems, sewer systems, parks, fire stations, telephone networks, hospitals, airport, art museum and zoo.

Post War Bond Issue of 1944

Of course, the actual development of the City of St. Louis in the second half of the 20th century followed an altogether different design which was occurred through the combined action of major highway construction, massive new suburb development in the surrounding communities and the demographic shifts associated with “white flight”.

If Bartholomew had considered the evidence of population shift away from the city center toward the perifery, he might have been able to more accurately visualize and create a realistic city plan that could possibly have been implemented in a more coordinated way. Clearly, such a plan would have to deal with (at a minimum, St. Louis City and St. Louis County). My suspicion is that he was only authorized to prepare a plan for the city itself.

Population Change (1930–1940)

Maps of St. Louis (1764–1960)

This drawing presents the raw landscape surrounding the Village of St. Lewis:

Map shows landscape with locales indicates for early communities.

 

This drawing depicts the boundaries of the City of St. Louis from it’s origins beside the Mississippi River in 1764 through it’s current boundary which was established in 1876 at the time of the City County Divorce:

1764-1876

 

This drawing depicts the French fort built around the perimeter of “St. Louis des Illinois” in 1780:

1780

 

This 1804 survey locates the houses on the blocks of the French city at the time:

Survey of French city of 1804

 

At this point, the expansion of the city has not yet reach Chouteau’s Pond:

Survey of city blocks (c. 1822)

 

This drawing depicts expanded boundary of the city as of 1822:

1822 (population 5,000)

 

This drawing depicts expanded boundary of the city as of 1841 (including Chouteau’s Pond):

1841

 

This drawing illustrates the city as it existed in 1844:

1844

 

This diagram outlines the city’s boundaries in 1855 and it’s final limits established in 1876:

1855 and 1876 city boundaries
City districts and boundaries (c. 1855)

 

This drawing outlines St. Louis City and County with the bounding rivers and general topopgraphic features:

St. Louis City and County (c. 1885)

 

This drawing depicts the rapidly growing city as of 1885 (note: Eads Bridge has been constructed, Chouteau’s Pond is no longer present and Mill Creek Valley is now centered on new rail lines):

1885

 

This drawing depicts the expanding city as of 1812 (note second bridge over the Mississippi built on the north side and the development of East St. Louis):

1912

 

This topographic map includes St. Louis City and County as they existed in 1920 (Mississippi River is at the bottom and the Missouri River appears at right):

1920

 

Aerial photograph of downtown (c. 1960)
Central City aerials depicts regions lost to demolition