Monday, January 10, 2011

The Mark Twain Neighborhood

Mark Twain is a north St. Louis neighborhood bound by West Florissant Avenue to the north east, I-70 to the south and south west and Emerson Avenue to the north west:
The 2000 census data counted 4,999 residents (down 28% from 1990's count) of whom 98% were black and 1% white. There were 2,281 housing units counted, 78% occupied (64%/36% owner/renter split).  Another neighborhood showing the tremendous flight of black people out of St. Louis from 1990-2000.  The trend continued from 2000-2010 where another 16% packed it up and left.

This is one of the north city neighborhoods that is in quite good condition overall.  I'd put this up there with North Pointe and  the West End as some of the more stable neighborhoods on the city's north side. 
Much of the area is marked with the familiar pillars that can be found in the north side neighborhoods along W. Florissant Avenue:
Much of the housing stock is really quite beautiful and stable.  There are a lot of people living here and the streets were active with pedestrians, dog walkers, etc even on an icy cold winter day.

Kingshighway has a large center garden median with older trees and looks great all the way from West Florissant to Bircher:
My favorite setting in the neighborhood are the blocks bound by Ruskin, Thelka, Queens and Harney.  If you want to check out a well planned 2 block area, this may be the one in Mark Twain:
Mark Twain school is for sale.  The North City Church of Christ is simply beautiful as are the homes and elevation of the streets sloping toward the north east.

The nice, well-cared for homes are mainly concentrated toward the center of the neighborhood, but can be found throughout:
Some other parts of the neighborhood are very reminiscent of the Dogtown neighborhoods on the south side:
The worst area of the neighborhood with the most burn outs, board ups and crumbling homes is the north west end nearest Walnut Park East:
As you can see in the map, Mark Twain is largely residential northwest of Euclid Avenue and the area southeast of Euclid is largely industrial.  The historic Bellefontaine Cemetery abuts Mark Twain to the north and east.

Toward the south eastern edge of Mark Twain, the impressive Archer Daniels Midland grain silos visible from I-70 are quite a presence in the neighborhood and can be seen from many parts of Mark Twain.
There is also a senior housing complex:
As well as a the former home of the Royal Knights Athletic Association, a club youth boys and girls sports club founded in 1959.
 The fields are no longer in use but once were home to some talented young athletes (and some sharply dressed coaches):
source circa 1977/1978

There are some former factories that are quite the cool aging structures:
Unfortunately, the amount of illegal dumping in the former industrial is overwhelming, one of the worst I've seen throughout the entire city.  It's actually quite embarrasing and a health risk I'm sure...but as we all know, the city turns it's back on these problems, especially when it's on the north side.  I won't post photos, but if you want to see what I'm talking about just go to the area near Shreve Avenue and Rosalie Street...a real bummer.

But again, this is probably one of the most stable looking neighborhoods on the north side.  There are plenty of businesses and churches both along W. Florissant as well as sprinkled throughout the neighborhood:
I didn't spot any cool metal and neon signs, but there were a couple others that caught my eye including this one two punch of my favorite lo fi beer guzzling calls:
And a couple others:
There are some handsome structurs along W. Florissant Avenue including engine house #12 and a former police station built in 1930:


  1. Frank - Columbus, OhioJuly 9, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    i am coming to visit St. Louis soon and I'm interested in all things Mark Twain. I don't know what Mark Twain has to do with this neighborhood other than the name but it sounds intriguing and I would like to visit. Is there anything else I should know about it? is it safe? Thank you.

  2. ^Frank, I'm not aware of anything specific to Twain you would want to see in this particular neighborhood. A more significant building would be the Clemens Mansion in the St. Louis Place neighborhood. More on that here:

    Have fun in St. Louis.

  3. To Frank in Columbus: Do not visit this area during your visit to St. Louis. It is far to dangerous and crime ridden for you to be driving your family there. There are much better sites in St. Louis to visit that have to do with Mark Twain.

  4. I actually live in the Mark Twain. All North City neighborhoods are not as bad as the media lets on. Frank, I am not saying bring your family at midnight to sightsee. I wouldn't go anywhere including the Arch or the Central West End at night. Try visiting the beautiful Bellefountaine Cemetary. There are many historic prominate St. Louisians buried there.

  5. I grew up in the Mark Twain Neighborhood on Leahy. My Grandmother lived on the corner of Kingshighway and Harney. What a beautiful area this was, and from the looks of the pictures shown, still is one impressive area of the city.