Shaw is a St. Louis City neighborhood bounded by I-44 at the north, Magnolia Avenue at the south, South Grand Boulevard to the east and Tower Grove Avenue and the Missouri Botanical Gardens towards the west. Shaw is represented by two aldermen sitting in the 8th and 18th Wards. The neighborhood covers a total of 0.60 square miles and has a population of 6,811 residents, as of the 2010 census. The neighborhood gets its name from Henry Shaw, best known as the founder of the Missouri Botanical Gardens.
The area first developed in the later portion the 1700s as a French settlement under the name of Prairie des Noyers. Shortly after the Louisiana Purchase, portions of Prairie des Noyers were sold to investors looking to develop settlements. The largest portion of the area was acquired by a U.S. general named Colonel William Christy, best known for obtaining land that helped lay out most of North St. Louis. The land began to trade ownership throughout the 1800s as Christy sold his sections to William Chambers in 1816 which stayed in his ownership until his death in 1860. The land was willed to his only daughter, Mary Tyler, and she sold the land to subdivision developers two decades later. Most of the current homes within the area’s neighborhood were constructed around this time.
It was also during this time, that a philanthropist by the name of Henry Shaw acquired several portions of present-day Shaw including the land that covers Tower Grove Park and the Missouri Botanical Garden. He worked with architect George I. Barnett to develop his large and extensive estate known as the Tower Grove House. Shaw was becoming a prominent figure for the area after the planning, funding and construction of what was then referred to as Shaw’s Garden, the present-day Missouri Botanical Garden. He made it open to the public in 1859 and donated many land around the garden.
Before his passing in 1889, Henry Shaw also helped found the Missouri Historical Society and provided financial efforts for Washington University’s School of Botany. The area would earn the name of Shaw as a tribute to a man that helped the area reach such high potential. Shaw earned the distinction of being a Certified Local Historic District in 1985, which helped in supporting enticements for any future preservation that may occur.
Residents of Shaw are served by the St. Louis Public School District
The Missouri Botanical Garden is the area landmark and one of the oldest botanical institutions in all of the United States. Known informally as Shaw’s Garden as a tribute to Henry Shaw, the Garden is a center for botanical research and science education of international repute, as well as an oasis in the city of St. Louis, with nearly 79 acres of horticultural display.
Many annual cultural festivals, including the Japanese Festival and the Chinese Culture Days by the St. Louis Chinese Culture Days Committee, take place at the Garden throughout the year. In 1983, the Botanical Garden was added as the fourth sub district of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District.
Donated to the city by Henry Shaw, Tower Grove Park features 11 pavilions of picturesque design, most dating from the Victorian era, which provide shady rests from which visitors can enjoy the many lovely views and tables and benches for picnics. There are several statues from the 1800s along the central corridor of the park – giving a backdrop for several picnics, weddings and festivals held in the park throughout the year. Since 2005, from May through October, a farmers’ market is held from 8:30-12:30 Saturday mornings just west of the Wading Pool Pavilion.