Delmar Between Union and DeBaliviere, Part 1

It’s strange not to imagine Delmar Boulevard as anything other an ugly symbol of racial segregation in St. Louis, but for most of its history, Delmar was just one of a series of broad, apartment building lined avenues that cut across the broad, gently flat expanse of land known as the Grand Prairie. South City still doesn’t have many major east-west streets of the width of the North Side.

Delmar in between Union and DeBaliviere represents a strange contrast; unlike its eastern stretch, documented here a while back, Delmar west of Kingshighway is lined with once-opulent apartment buildings, not the single family 19th Century houses common further east.

What is also interesting is that new construction clearly continued well into the 1960s. The apartment building in the first two pictures is actually an Isadore Shank design, known as the Ambassador originally.

As is common in the Central West End, those grand apartment buildings became homes for the destitute and the disabled. There is very little abandonment on the south side of Delmar, but there is very little street life; everyone is too elderly or disabled to walk here and there. Not that there is much to go to; this area was clearly developed with the early automobile in mind, or at least the presence of a now extinct streetcar system.

It’s also intriguing that the original developers of this section left gigantic plats of land on the north side of the street, in the West End neighborhood.

The mansions, if ever built, are now long gone. Massive apartment buildings, such as this one, remain.

I’ve always noticed this long building–featuring dozens of balconies, some used, some not.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Tom Maher - Kirkwood MO says:

    The Harland Court Apartments, in your 7th through 9th photos, have been all over the TV and P-d this Summer, and even as recently as two weeks ago; see:

    Are ALL of those buildings in the earlier photos now Section 8 (term?).

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Thanks, Tom. I didnt want to jump to conclusions, but I was sort of wondering how good of condition that building must be in. I unfortunately now know the answer. Everyone has the right to live in safe housing.

  2. Miles says:

    Delhaven Manor is/was a nursing home. As a child I went with my family to visit my uncle here – this would have been in the late 60s to mid 70s. I didn’t know the street names then – we lived in the wilds of St. Charles county – but now I know them to be Lindell and DeBaliviere, Union and Delmar. I remember the gates to the private streets, thinking of what manner of people must live in these houses! I think that experience is why I’m looking at your site today – I’m still curious about it all.

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