Update: The whole north side of East Prairie Street was cleared of trees and underbrush in late December 2018; Cowan Street and its ruined buildings were demolished by this time as well. Also, this was once an incredibly historic church that appears on the Compton and Dry Pictorial St. Louis from 1876. Note the filled-in Gothic pointed arches. DeSoto Street was left exposed on the hilltop, as can be seen in this post from the winter of 2019.
I read about this devastated block on Exploring St. Louis, and I headed up to check it out myself.
Seriously, what does it take for a street to make it to this level of destruction? I lecture frequently in my classes about the abandonment of Rome, and how whole sections were left empty because there were simply no people to live there. Is that what we are witnessing here? The decline of a civilization?
I have to admit every time I come to the College Hill neighborhood, I get depressed. It is so desolate, so mysterious and so overgrown that I can’t imagine this as ever being a bustling neighborhood.