September 08, 2016

36 Amazing Photos That Capture St. Louis in the Early 20th Century

St. Louis was booming in the early twentieth century, growing beyond its frontier boundaries at a rapid rate. The St. Louis Street Department documented these growing pains, both to record the challenges it faced and show how much work was being done. Charles Clement Holt marshaled a force of photographers to shoot street work in progress, dilapidated areas needing improvement, finished municipal projects and -- quite by chance -- the daily life of a burgeoning city. At its peak, the project knocked out 6,000 photographs a year. Many of these were eventually thrown out, but a historian rescued some 300 prime images. Joseph Heathcott and Angela Dietz collected some prime images in the new book Capturing the City: Photographs from the Streets of St. Louis. The book is really more of a time machine, showing a St. Louis that is familiar but vastly different: Horses being hoisted out of holes in the street are a rarity these days, and Market Street never has musicians on flatbed trucks anymore urging us to keep the city clean. Get a sneak peak of these amazing photos right here, then head to the Missouri History Museum to see this free photo exhibit. For more information about the exhibit and to purchase the book, visit mohistory.org/capturingthecity. Photos courtesy of the Missouri History Museum.

St. Louis was booming in the early twentieth century, growing beyond its frontier boundaries at a rapid rate. The St. Louis Street Department documented these growing pains, both to record the challenges it faced and show how much work was being done. Charles Clement Holt marshaled a force of photographers to shoot street work in progress, dilapidated areas needing improvement, finished municipal projects and -- quite by chance -- the daily life of a burgeoning city. At its peak, the project knocked out 6,000 photographs a year. Many of these were eventually thrown out, but a historian rescued some 300 prime images.

Joseph Heathcott and Angela Dietz collected some prime images in the book Capturing the City: Photographs from the Streets of St. Louis. The book is really more of a time machine, showing a St. Louis that is familiar but vastly different: Horses being hoisted out of holes in the street are a rarity these days, and Market Street never has musicians on flatbed trucks anymore urging us to keep the city clean.

Photos courtesy of the Missouri History Museum.

09/08/2016
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Looking east on Locust Street (Lucas Place) from Sixteenth Street, 1914. Note the seam in the foreground where macadam pavement meets granite block.
Looking east on Locust Street (Lucas Place) from Sixteenth Street, 1914. Note the seam in the foreground where macadam pavement meets granite block.
A newsboy stands in the rubble of street repair work on Olive Boulevard looking west toward Grand Avenue, ca. 1907. In the background, the Olive Boulevard streetcar line stops to pick up passengers near the photographic studio of Emme and Mayme Gerhard (visible on the left hand side of the image).
A newsboy stands in the rubble of street repair work on Olive Boulevard looking west toward Grand Avenue, ca. 1907. In the background, the Olive Boulevard streetcar line stops to pick up passengers near the photographic studio of Emme and Mayme Gerhard (visible on the left hand side of the image).
A young girl plays a violin while standing on lily pad in front of Linnean House at Shaw's Garden (now the Missouri Botanical Garden), ca. 1900–1910.
A young girl plays a violin while standing on lily pad in front of Linnean House at Shaw's Garden (now the Missouri Botanical Garden), ca. 1900–1910.
Intersection of Biddle and Thirteenth streets looking north. Photograph, ca. 1900.
Intersection of Biddle and Thirteenth streets looking north. Photograph, ca. 1900.
Construction work on St. Charles Street east of Seventh Street. Photograph, ca. 1900.
Construction work on St. Charles Street east of Seventh Street. Photograph, ca. 1900.
Street cleaner at Twenty-First and Chestnut streets. Photograph, ca. 1900.
Street cleaner at Twenty-First and Chestnut streets. Photograph, ca. 1900.
Market Street Grocery Company building. Photograph, ca. 1900.
Market Street Grocery Company building. Photograph, ca. 1900.
Southeast corner of Market and Fourteenth streets including Mielke’s Lunch Stand, Hotel Francis and Walter J. Noble Whiskey and Wine. Photograph, ca. 1900.
Southeast corner of Market and Fourteenth streets including Mielke’s Lunch Stand, Hotel Francis and Walter J. Noble Whiskey and Wine. Photograph, ca. 1900.
Street pavers at work on Compton Avenue north of Meramec Street, 1906. The distinctive pyramidal towers of St. Anthony of Padua can be seen in the distance at left.
Street pavers at work on Compton Avenue north of Meramec Street, 1906. The distinctive pyramidal towers of St. Anthony of Padua can be seen in the distance at left.
Magazines on display in the storefront window of the M.C. Kalis Drugstore at 4878 Easton Avenue. Photograph, 1906.
Magazines on display in the storefront window of the M.C. Kalis Drugstore at 4878 Easton Avenue. Photograph, 1906.