Sunday, July 27, 2008

New Thing #198--A Street Runs Through It

I was rummaging through the bookshelves downstairs today, and came upon a fascinating book. Today I looked at a street guide of the St. Louis area from more than 50 years ago.

More specifically, it was Cunetto's 1957 Street and Sectional Guide Map of St. Louis and St. Louis County. It was printed before any of the area Interstates were built; the main East-West streets were Olive, 40, Manchester, and Watson. If you wanted to go North or South, the main choices were Broadway, Riverview, or Lindbergh. Route 66 meandered through the city on different roads-it came into the area from Illinois on the Chain of Rocks Bridge, followed Lindbergh down to Watson, then continued west approximately where Interstate 44 is west of the Meramec River.

The area where we live was nothing but farmland, although just a couple of miles away Manchester Road was relatively developed through Manchester, Ballwin, and Ellisville. According to the map, some of the streets I drive on every day have been improved to make them straighter, and some were realigned so they could meet up more easily with other through streets.

The guide showed the metro area's parks and cultural institutions. It also indicated the locations of country clubs (some of which are no longer around), cemeteries, and religious convents (most of which are no longer around).


  1. I love maps. What will we do in 50 years (well, I won't be around, but you know what I mean) when the paper maps are gone and all we have are the digital sort? I wonder what kind of history we are losing. Same with print photographs.

  2. Aren't those great?

    If you really want to dig, go to the Missouri Historical Society's reading room on Skinker across from Forest Park (it's not in the History Museum building, but a super cool former Greek Orthodox church nearby.)

    They have tons of maps and city directories. Most awesome.

    Except if you're doing your thesis work and for weeks solid you are reading those city directories in search of something, then...tedious!

  3. I LOVE to look at maps, and see how the streets come together. I spent almost an hour amusing myself looking at this.

    dk, you're right that Mapquest just isn't the same. Besides, my computer isn't with me in the car, so it doesn't do any good.

    sugaredharpy I think I know the building you're talking about. It sounds like you speak from personal experience when you talk about maps being tedious :-)

  4. What a fantastic find! I will have to keep my eyes open for this in antique stores, used books stores,etc.

    I always mean to look up how the city streets looked before the interstates.