4300 Block of West Belle Place

Look At These Homes Now! Save Your Home! Vote For Segregation! [4300 block of West Belle Place]. Flier, 1916. Race Relations Collection. Missouri Historical Society Archives. N21841.

I thought it would be interesting to examine the block that was the subject of one of the most infamous election fliers in St. Louis history. In 1916, voters approved an ordinance that outlawed a member of one race to move onto a block where members of one race already constituted a 75% majority. It was thrown out in court, and this is when racial covenants mushroomed in popularity in a semicircular area around the Ville neighborhood of North St. Louis. Those covenants were then thrown out in Shelley v. Kramer.

Perhaps it would be best to say that the fortunes of the block have been mixed. Many houses are still occupied, but many have been torn down. Some have been replaced by so-called HUD houses and other smaller mid-twentieth century housing.

What is obvious, however, is that the legacy of redlining, the practice of denying home loans to certain neighborhoods of major American cities, is still prevalent. Yet some continue to deny its existence.

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