April 27, 2022

Our Very Incomplete Guide to Mid-County [PHOTOS]

As industrial pollution, manufacturing decline and white flight spurred an exodus from St. Louis city following World War II, mid-county began wielding outsized economic power in the region, and it has never looked back. People once went downtown for their shopping, but now many head to Brentwood or Maplewood, and when a financial company seeks a new regional office, it’s likely to choose Clayton. Young couples living in the city, meanwhile, are drawn to mid-county for the schools, further driving up real-estate prices. For those who can afford to buy in, much of mid-county feels like a slice of heaven; never mind that its success has been to the detriment of the city.
Scroll down to view images

Join the Riverfront Times Press Club

At a time when local-based reporting is critical, support from our readers is essential to our future. Join the Riverfront Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month

Brentwood
Brentwood gets hate because it’s full of big box stores and bad traffic situations, but it’s actually great. The architecture and the classic little old houses in Brentwood are pretty cool, the shopping is premium (many chains are represented, including Trader Joe’s, Target and Total Wine) and it offers easy highway access. Take a Xanax before trying to park in the Brentwood Promenade, though. The tight spots and impatient drivers make for a daily shitshow.
PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr / @rockygirl
Brentwood

Brentwood gets hate because it’s full of big box stores and bad traffic situations, but it’s actually great. The architecture and the classic little old houses in Brentwood are pretty cool, the shopping is premium (many chains are represented, including Trader Joe’s, Target and Total Wine) and it offers easy highway access. Take a Xanax before trying to park in the Brentwood Promenade, though. The tight spots and impatient drivers make for a daily shitshow.

Charlack
The best way to appreciate north county burb Charlack is to visit its premier bar, the Charlack Pub. One part biker hotspot, one part live music venue and all parts professional drinker's paradise, the beloved dive on the eastern edge of town is full of the colorful characters that give the city its charm. The second best way is to visit John’s Butcher Shoppe, a no-foolin', take-a-ticket butchery with a giant fiberglass cow on its roof — as fine a landmark as any we’ve seen in St. Louis County.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Westhoff
Charlack

The best way to appreciate north county burb Charlack is to visit its premier bar, the Charlack Pub. One part biker hotspot, one part live music venue and all parts professional drinker's paradise, the beloved dive on the eastern edge of town is full of the colorful characters that give the city its charm. The second best way is to visit John’s Butcher Shoppe, a no-foolin', take-a-ticket butchery with a giant fiberglass cow on its roof — as fine a landmark as any we’ve seen in St. Louis County.

Clayton
Clayton has world-class restaurants, beautiful parks, serene family neighborhoods, maybe the best school district in the state and even a little nightlife. It rivals downtown St. Louis in economic might; it's not inconceivable that Clayton might someday become more important economically than the city. What the hell happened? You can blame suburban sprawl, white flight, the city/county divide or entropy wrought by God. But one thing is clear: Like it or not, Clayton’s influence in the region will only continue growing.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Westhoff
Clayton

Clayton has world-class restaurants, beautiful parks, serene family neighborhoods, maybe the best school district in the state and even a little nightlife. It rivals downtown St. Louis in economic might; it's not inconceivable that Clayton might someday become more important economically than the city. What the hell happened? You can blame suburban sprawl, white flight, the city/county divide or entropy wrought by God. But one thing is clear: Like it or not, Clayton’s influence in the region will only continue growing.

Hanley Hills
Hanley Hills is a series of subdivisions, laid out with lots of winding residential streets that aren’t through. It’s got many moderately sized, well-maintained houses with vinyl siding that are inexpensively priced.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Westhoff
Hanley Hills

Hanley Hills is a series of subdivisions, laid out with lots of winding residential streets that aren’t through. It’s got many moderately sized, well-maintained houses with vinyl siding that are inexpensively priced.

Hillsdale
Located just a short distance off Lucas and Hunt Road, Hillsdale is home to the historic Greenwood Cemetery, one of the largest Black burial grounds in St. Louis County. Among its famous burials is Harriett Scott, who along with her husband Dred, sued for her freedom in downtown St. Louis, leading to an infamous Supreme Court decision that helped foment the Civil War.
PHOTO CREDIT: screengrab via Google Maps
Hillsdale

Located just a short distance off Lucas and Hunt Road, Hillsdale is home to the historic Greenwood Cemetery, one of the largest Black burial grounds in St. Louis County. Among its famous burials is Harriett Scott, who along with her husband Dred, sued for her freedom in downtown St. Louis, leading to an infamous Supreme Court decision that helped foment the Civil War.

Ladue
Ladue is different things to different people; where you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth, where you move when your professional dreams come true or where you would only live in your worst nightmare. More than 85 percent white, Ladue doesn’t permit multifamily dwellings, which has long kept poor and Black people out. That said, its school district is one of the county’s most diverse.
PHOTO CREDIT: Flickr / @pasa
Ladue

Ladue is different things to different people; where you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth, where you move when your professional dreams come true or where you would only live in your worst nightmare. More than 85 percent white, Ladue doesn’t permit multifamily dwellings, which has long kept poor and Black people out. That said, its school district is one of the county’s most diverse.

Maplewood
Maplewood is one of the hipper municipalities in St. Louis County, a sort of second south city for those who don’t want to pay a 1 percent earnings tax. It’s got walkable streets and trendy establishments; head to Planet Score for your music needs, and be sure to poke into the Crow’s Nest for some poutine and Stag. Maplewood is one of the few parts of the county where your average city dweller might accept an invite with a hearty “sure.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Jennifer Silverberg
Maplewood

Maplewood is one of the hipper municipalities in St. Louis County, a sort of second south city for those who don’t want to pay a 1 percent earnings tax. It’s got walkable streets and trendy establishments; head to Planet Score for your music needs, and be sure to poke into the Crow’s Nest for some poutine and Stag. Maplewood is one of the few parts of the county where your average city dweller might accept an invite with a hearty “sure.”

Olivette
Not really north county but not really west county either, Olivette is a cute little burgh between the inner belt and the outer belt. What makes it special are  truly diverse neighborhoods in a metro area that is lacking. Within the Ladue school district, but at an affordable price point, it draws Black, white and immigrant families.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Westhoff
Olivette

Not really north county but not really west county either, Olivette is a cute little burgh between the inner belt and the outer belt. What makes it special are truly diverse neighborhoods in a metro area that is lacking. Within the Ladue school district, but at an affordable price point, it draws Black, white and immigrant families.

Overland
One of our favorite municipalities in the county, or anywhere, Overland has great class diversity and an increasingly racially diverse population as well. It’s got amazing mom-and-pop stores, dive bars and a wide array of churches and other places of worship. Plus, there are at least two local hardwares stores, at least one VFW hall, a model train store and places to get fantastic donuts and custard. With its 16,000 people, it’s basically a self-contained small town that happens to be surrounded by greater St. Louis.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Westhoff
Overland

One of our favorite municipalities in the county, or anywhere, Overland has great class diversity and an increasingly racially diverse population as well. It’s got amazing mom-and-pop stores, dive bars and a wide array of churches and other places of worship. Plus, there are at least two local hardwares stores, at least one VFW hall, a model train store and places to get fantastic donuts and custard. With its 16,000 people, it’s basically a self-contained small town that happens to be surrounded by greater St. Louis.

Pagedale
An important part of the 24:1 municipal partnership and home to U.S. Congresswoman Cori Bush’s Missouri office, Pagedale has seen significant investment over the last several years in the form of a movie theater, health center and food court that have brought a new vitality to the area. We particularly recommend Crawling Crab, an outrageously buttery over-the-top seafood restaurant.
PHOTO CREDIT: Ben Westhoff
Pagedale

An important part of the 24:1 municipal partnership and home to U.S. Congresswoman Cori Bush’s Missouri office, Pagedale has seen significant investment over the last several years in the form of a movie theater, health center and food court that have brought a new vitality to the area. We particularly recommend Crawling Crab, an outrageously buttery over-the-top seafood restaurant.