Monday, September 30, 2013

St. Louis’s Shaw Neighborhood: One of the City’s Jewels and a Great Place to Live, Play and Visit

St. Louis’s Shaw Neighborhood: One of the City’s Jewels and a Great Place to Live, Play and Visit
Named for the man who founded the Missouri Botanical Gardens—Henry Shaw—the Shaw neighborhood of St. Louis (which is comprised of two smaller communities called Tower Grove Park and Shaw Gardens) is one of the city’s oldest intact neighborhoods in St. Louis’s historic districts. It’s also one of the communities in the city that is still in the throes of gentrification, thanks to the Shaw Neighborhood Housing Corporation which strives to both improve and promote different properties by working with developers, sponsors, realtors, and others.
The area was purchased from French settlers by Captain William Chambers in 1816, and then was bought by Henry Shaw, who was then only 19 years of age and had just arrived to the St. Louis area. Once there, Shaw built his large country home he named Tower Grover House and began work on his garden, now known as the Missouri Botanical Garden. Shaw is the main reason why there are such a variety of architecture as well as the many different types of residences: Two- and three-story homes are seen next to multifamily dwellings, churches, schools, and small businesses.
Present day Shaw is still seeing a lot of new development, including the progress on new apartments, and ongoing renovations on the neighborhood’s old homes and building. While some still remain boarded up and empty, many associations like the Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association are trying to get new businesses into the community, since there are so many new young families that have come to the area; many residents feel this is the next phase for the community.
Attractions in Shaw are plentiful and include the Missouri Botanical Garden, the famous Shaw Art, all of the beautiful and historic homes along the Flora Place boulevard, the stunning churches like St. Margaret of Scotland, and the Tower Grove Park. Tower Grove Park is an attraction and special part of the city all on its own; it was originally part of Henry Shaw’s land but he donated it in 1868 to the city of St. Louis and is now around 289 acres. This park has 11 pavilions of different designs, including Victorian, as well as a lovely lily pond, gorgeous plants, the Piper Palm House, which is a bandstand and the site of special events and music, tennis courts, a wading pool, open expanses of grass for picnics or playing sports, softball and soccer fields, and pathways for walkers, joggers, and dog walkers. The park also features almost 400 species of flowering plants, trees, and bushes, plus it’s a wonderful place for birdwatching, especially in spring and fall. There are also lots of statues in the park, such as Christopher Columbus, Alexander von Humboldt, William Shakespeare, and famous musical composers.
The famed Historic Shaw Art Fair has been held in the community for 21 years; it brings together the whole neighborhood with great art from artists from across the country, food, music, and more. It is held in every October, and is an event that residents, artists, and tourists look forward to every year.

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