The Central West End
- "The Heart of the City"
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ST. LOUIS, MO, (SLFP.com) - American Plannning Association's (APA) flagship program - Great Places - celebrates places of exemplary character, quality, and planning. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historical interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow.
The Central West End was recently designated as one of America's Top 10 Great Neighborhoods. The following is a summary by the APA.
Located west of downtown St. Louis, the Central West End or "The CWE," as locals often call it, comprises 112 city blocks nestled between St. Louis's crown jewel Forest Park (a 2013 APA Great Public Space) and the St. Louis University campus.
The CWE is a neighborhood designed for the pedestrian with its array of sidewalk cafes, boutiques, historic streetscapes, and even the World Chess Hall of Fame. Locals and tourists alike flock to the neighborhood's mixed-use district along Euclid Avenue. Iconic griffin-adorned lamp posts, tree-lined sidewalks, and a dense clustering of statues and other public art add to the CWE's pedestrian-scaled amenities and attractions.
The Central West End is home to 14,000 residents, with twice that number employed at the neighborhood's medical campus. The Washington University School of Medicine and BJC Healthcare campus, combined with the St. Louis College of Pharmacy and the Cortex Innovation District, form one of the largest regional centers of employment and are national leaders in medical research and tech startups.
The historic neighborhood's housing stock primarily dates back to the early 20th century, built largely in response to the 1904 World's Fair in nearby Forest Park. World's Fair-era hotels, now restored and converted to high-rise apartments, overlook large single-family, architect-designed homes in ornate Classical Revival styles. Adding to the architectural mix will be no less than three new high rises, representing the largest residential building boom witnessed in the city in decades.
Engaged community leadership is pursuing alternative transportation options for the neighborhood, including a Bus Rapid Transit line, a streetcar line, and a new MetroLink light rail stop within Cortex (a recent recipient of a federal transportation grant) to further the Central West End's status as a car-optional neighborhood.
Active neighborhood groups work to preserve the local flavor and host annual events to showcase the Central West End including the sometimes risqué Central West End Halloween party (in its 31st year) and the always aromatic St. Nicholas Greek Festival (in its 97th year), drawing tens of thousands of visitors for cleverly costumed people-watching and mouth-watering baklava.
A Holiday Window Walk highlights CWE storefronts adorned with festive decorations and holiday lights, while Taste of Central West End highlights the diverse culinary offerings of the neighborhood, among many other annual neighborhood events.
The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, located at 4431 Lindell Blvd., contains the world's largest collection of mosiac art, covering 83,000 square feet. The cathedral, designated a basilica in 1997, was built between 1907 and 1909.
The interior mosaics took a father and son team nearly 80 years to create using than 41 million pieces of tile in over 7,000 colors. A Mosaic Museum, located in the lower level of the cathedral, traces the contruction and installation of tiles. The glittering green dome is a landmark feature of the Central West End.
The Angel of Harmony, a stainless steel sculpture of an African-American angel, was commissioned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis for the visit of Pope John Paul II in January, 1999. The sculpture, created by artist Wiktor Szostalo, features massive uplifted wings comprised of copper and brass wind chimes.
It is the gift of Adelaide Schlafly in memory of her late husband, Daniel. The angel's arms are outstretched over three children of different ethnic and racial backgrounds playing a "Hymn of Peace" on diverse instruments. Quotations from the New Testament, Pope John Paul II, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a dedication to Mr. Schlafly are inscribed on the base.
A life-size bronze sculpture of Pope John Paul II, by artist Rudy Torrini, sits on a red Missouri granite base outside the cathedral. The sculpture was commissioned by the Archdiocese of St. Louis to commemorate the Papal Visit, January 1999. For more information, call (314) 458-4343.
The Chase Park Plaza, at Kingshighway between Lindell and Maryland Plaza, has been rennovated for hotel accommodations and upscale private residences. The complex features restaurants, a movie theatre and banquet facilities.
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