Sunday, September 6, 2009

Clifton Heights Neighborhood

I'm skipping Boulevard Heights for now, since it's my neighborhood. I want to explore something not as familiar to me, so I'll get back to Boulevard Heights later. On to Clifton Heights.

Clifton Heights is located in southwest St. Louis:

The neighborhood has a fantastic website, with a wealth of information on the history and current goings on. The history is long and rich, and expertly documented in the website. Subdivision of this part of the city began in 1880 for residential purposes and continued through 1955 when the large Clifton Hills subdivision was platted north of Southwest Avenue and west of Tamm. This long history of slow development and subdivision is very apparent in the mix of housing that you find within Clifton Heights.

So who and how many call Clifton Heights home?

Clifton Heights saw a 3.5% decrease in population from 1990 (3570) to 2000 (3444). It is largely white at 95% of the total population. The remaining 5% is comprised of 2% Black/African American, 2% Hispanic/Latino, 1% other.  The neighborhood had 3,074 residents per the 2010 Census count (-12%) split 90% white, 4% black, 3% Hispanic/Latino and 2% Asian.

There are 1531 households, 65% with 2 or more people. 87% of those are family households, 74% of which are married-couple families.

The housing is 93% occupied, 75% of which is owned. Lot's of families, lots of married couples, low vacancy rate. This is clearly a stable neighborhood.

The best way I can describe the housing stock in this neighborhood is mixed. There isn't really a prominent style or defining "feel" to the neighborhood, until you get close to the actual park, which serves as the centerpiece for Clifton Heights.

The southwest reaches of the neighborhood have a strangely compelling mix of sided homes mixed with brick bungelows, 3 stories, 2 stories, duplexes, multifamilies, you name it. Even the street trees have no uniformity or continuity. Here's a couple examples of the varied housing stock:

Closer to the park is some of the most unique housing I've seen in St. Louis. It actually reminds me of the hilly sections of Webster Groves or old Kirkwood. There are large Victorian style homes surrounding the park. The setting is very serene. This may be one of those truly unique, "nothing else like it" kind of places in the city.
The park is in a low lying area with some nice features around the lake.
Some of the institutions in the neighborhood are more typical of other parts of the city.

Some of the local nuances I appreciated:
Honey, grab the tree stumps, chainlink and paint, I've got an idea...
One neighbors disapproving stare as I surveyed the streets. Doh...
Some parkside commentary:
In closing, I would call this a gateway neighborhood. One that is so safe and familiar that it is a good first move for someone who wants to get their feet wet with city living. There is not really a set street grid, so it has a meandering, hilly feel to it. With the rich and beautiful corner store fronts, there are many opportunities for this to be a self contained neighborhood.
There is a lot of rehab work going on, especially around the park.

There is a huge, relatively new Drury Inn at the northern border of Clifton Heights. Does anyone out there remember the name of the Chinese restaurant formerly on that site? Was it the Diamond Head?

Two neighborhoods down, 77 more to go. Onward and upward to Compton Heights...


  1. Wow! Impressive little tour. I know Clifton Heights well, but that strange faux-mansard octagon-like house escaped me. Thanks for zooming in to some of the details, too.

  2. ^yeah, that house stood out and caught my eye. Even the crescent driveway grabs your attention. There are other homes in the area that I would also call one of a kind.

  3. I went to a wedding in that church. I know a couple families in that neighborhood. Great area. My co-worker's brother lives there. He said the pond area used to be a hangout for teenagers in the 70's. You know, smoking, drinking, etc...

  4. ^Dan, it's a solid neighborhood. I hope the 2010 census data will suggest an increase in population as opposed to the decline seen from 1990 to 2000.

  5. Your photos and descriptions are wonderful marketing for our neighborhood.

    I would like to make more people aware that one of the entrances to Clifton Heights is a total embarrassment. The first 4 houses on Columbia west of Hampton have been unoccupied for at least the 5 years I have lived on that block. I'd be happy to supply pictures of houses without roofs or windows, all 4 are uninhabitable and I fear the effects on our neighborhood and for sure on the worth of my home. Carole Riggin

  6. Ms. Riggins, My name is Ryan Coleman and I live in the 6400 block of Colletta. We just bought the house 1 1/2 years ago and just love Clifton Heights. We are in the process of forming a neighborhood housing corporation that would be interested in things like this. I'll pass along your comment to Alderman Waterhouse (that's the 24th right?)

    Any other time...Don't Like What You See? Call CSB (Citizen's Service Bureau) 622-4800

  7. Check out this great house in Clifton Heights for sale - Just Listed

  8. Yes Mark, the restaurant was The Diamond Head, funny that you remember that. We have lived in Clifton Heights for ten years and love it, but may end up somewhere else because of the modest size of our home. Unfortunately, the neighborhood doesn't have that many larger homes that aren't on the park and thus fairly expensive. I will miss Clifton Heights if we ever leave. That church, used to be Frye Methodist, is now a home. I have never been in it, but the top of it's tower has got to have one of the best views in the city.

  9. I've been in Clifton Heights for 9 years. I moved here right out of college and single. My father was a little hesitant of me "moving to the city," but it was hard to turn down this neighborhood. It does not feel like other parts of the city I've lived in. It feels urban and hip, but also safe and comfortable. It's a wonderful place to live, and the people are great. I too, would live here forever if I could find a home that was a tad larger. Will also love this neighborhood.

  10. Before it was the Diamond Head it was a Lum's Restaurant (former chain)

  11. Clifton Heights is a great area. I agree with Jenny Lukanski in that it feels different from any other part of city living. We are centrally located to CWE, Downtown, and the county. I haven't lived in this area long, but I can say that I am planning on staying in this area for a while. I love that I can go walk my dog around the neighborhood any time, and see people out taking care of their yards, playing with their kids, and so forth. If anyone is looking for a nice quiet area in the City, go ahead and look in Clifton Heights.