Columbus Square is a neighborhood in the northern region of St. Louis City along the edge of Interstate I-70. Covering no more than 0.19 total square miles of land, the neighborhood is bordered by Old North St. Louis towards the north, Downtown St. Louis at the south, Near North Riverfront towards the east and Carr Square along the west. Columbus Square’s population, as of the 2010 census, is at 1,869 residents. The neighborhood is represented by one Aldermen sitting in the fifth Ward.
Columbus Square’s history begins sometime around the early 1840s when the region was densely populated with German immigrants in the western region near North 11th Street and Irish immigrants in the eastern portion near North 6th Street. This Irish area, known as the Kerry Patch, would eventually serve as the area’s main Irish catholic region with the development of St. Patrick’s Parish. It earned its Kerry Patch nickname due to many of the Irish immigrants hailing from County Kerry, Ireland and referring to their homes as “patches.” Soon enough, half of present-day Columbus Square would be inhabited by working family immigrants of Irish descent as several residential hubs of high-density two-to-three story high houses were developing in abundance.
Unfortunately, as the 20th century rolled around, the area began to see an unexpected economic hit and some subdivisions, with eccentric nicknames like Clabbery Alley, Wild Cat Chute and Castle Thunder, were often filled with a variety of crime. By 1920, the community’s economic situation turned itself around and began developing a much more mixed melting pot of nationalities (particularly those of Russian and Balkan background) throughout the region. The region would experience another unique boom period as several construction and manufacturing plants started to replace a lot of underused tenement areas and the region began a shift into a major industrial district.
Though this too would quickly pass as major residential construction saw a resurgence with the creation of Neighborhood Gardens apartments in 1936 and the Cochran Gardens public housing in 1952. Several other housing projects, like the Columbus Square Townhomes and Castles, would take place from the summer of 1985 to the spring of 1987.
Today, Columbus Square remains an area ripe of revitalization. One of the major ongoing projects are commercial plans for the Bottle District entertainment strip.
Residents of Columbus Square are served by the St. Louis Public School District.
Columbus Square is home to the Giant Vess Soda Bottle landmark built in 1952 as an advertisement for local soda company Vess Soda, originally founded as the Orange Whistle Company in 1916. Initially located at a bus loop on Hampton and Gravois Avenue, the rotating bottle is said to be the largest of its kind in the world.
The neighborhood’s two parks, Columbus Square Park and Father Filipiak Park are located near the southwestern region and cover a total of almost 5 acres collectively. Columbus Square opened in 1980 and is mainly a small circular resting park with various plantings while Father Filipiak Park opened the same year and was named after Reverend Edward Flipiak, a local pastor who saved his local church from demolition plans in 1844.