Old North St. Louis is a neighborhood within the northern portion of the St. Louis City limits near the communities of Carr Square, Near North Riverfront and the central business district of Downtown St. Louis. It is represented by two aldermen sitting in the third and fifth wards. Old North, as the neighborhood is often shortened to, covers no more than 0.39 total square miles and, as of the 2010 census, holds a population of 1,916 residents.
The area’s history begins as far back as the early 1800s when the it was settled and incorporated as a village in 1816 after Colonel William Chambers, of the United States Army, bought a strip of land and sold a third of it to fellow solider Major Thomas Wright and Wright’s father in law, William Christy. The boundaries of the region were bordered by the streets of Hadley, Monroe and Montgomery and the western portion of the Mississippi River.
Population growth was slow for the next few decades, but the area was notable for having three public use areas designed in a circular format within its village layout. These included a church, cemetery areas, a recreational center and a school center. Some speculate the interest in these community centers lead to the City of St. Louis’ interest in the village when it was annexed in 1841.
Within Old North St. Louis, you’ll fine three Nationally Registered Historic Districts … one of the most popular being the revitalized Crown Square, previously called the “14th Street Mall.” Towards the beginning of the 20th century, 14th Street within Old North St. Louis was a vibrant commercial district for residents with several businesses along the street. In the early 1970s, sections of the street were closed off in an effort to build a new mall. Unfortunately, mall plans never came into fruition and the street remained closed.
In 1981, a group of residents, business owners and community leaders established the non-profit group, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group. One major task was to rejuvenate the original 14th Street and through their efforts, the area has transformed back into a commercial and residential district. Two landmark businesses from the neighborhood’s earliest years still remain in business today – Crown Candy Kitchen and Marx Hardware & Paint Co., Marx Hardware being the oldest with establishment in 1875.
Residents of Old North St. Louis are served by the St. Louis Public School district.
One of the neighborhood’s major destinations includes Crown Candy Kitchen. Founded in 1913, the restaurant is still a family run business to this day and is one of the oldest soda fountain operations within the metro area, as well as the entire country.
Think you’re up for a challenge? Crown Candy offers customers the chance to receive their handmade malts free and their name on a plaque by successfully finishing at least five 24-ounce shakes within a half hour. Since 1913, only roughly 30 people have successfully accomplished the challenge, while several people attempt every week.