Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Patriotic Fervor -- Generations Ago

Back in 1918 -- ninety years ago -- about half a dozen streets in St. Louis were renamed from "German" names to "American" names due to anti-German sentiments during World War I.

The St. Louis Street Index compiled by the St. Louis Public Library lists these cases, and the history behind many other street names, in great detail.

It's been ninety years. Why can't we change some of these names back? I'm not saying that the WWI heroes aren't worth memorializing; but the previous names also reflect on a significant portion of our local heritage that's also worth remembering.

Cecil Place was originally Hapsburger Avenue, renamed in 1918 for Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, League of Nations co-founder.

Enright Avenue was, in part, originally named Von Versen Avenue, in honor of Alice Von Verson, a daughter of Eliza Clemens who laid out an early subdivision in that area. It was renamed in 1918 for Jack Enright, one of the first Americans killed in World War I.

Gresham Avenue was at first called Kaiser Street, but was renamed in 1918 for one of the first soldiers killed in World War I.

Pershing Avenue was named Berlin Avenue, but was renamed in 1918 for General John J. Pershing.

Providence Place was at first called Knapstein Place, but was renamed in 1918.

Many people know about the Pershing re-naming, but few know about the other streets, probably because (other than Enright, a pretty well-known street in its own right) they are fairly short, residential streets in South St. Louis.

3 comments:

Travis Reems said...

Joe:

Very interesting information about my own street, Providence Place (or should I call it Knapstein Place?). I had assumed the Providence name was original, as the street, a sole block long, sits behind St. Anthony of Padua church, and what once was the girls' highschool. Rumor has it that the homes, which are very different in architecture to the surounding neighborhood, were originally built to house nuns assigned to the church. I've not full come to believe that story for many reasons, but that's the subject of another blog. Thanks for the history lesson, notheless.

Anonymous said...

We still continue street renamings usually to honor people admired or those having achieved great feats. I have sometimes wondered do we "dis-admire" or no longer value the discarded names? I am long enough in the tooth that I still refer to 12th St., Easton Ave. and Veteran's Bridge when giving directions. The practice of renaming only one or two blocks on a given street is very confusing. A few years ago there was a bill in the Board of Alderman to limit the renaming of streets but I cannot recall if it passed or what the limits were to be.

Karen said...

Ohh. Let's change 'em back.

Apparently my great-grandfather built all the houses on present day Providence Place and managed to get it named after himself for a little while...