1956 Shaw Business Directory

So there have been invigorated discussions in my neighborhood about commercial space and who should/who shouldn’t, where and where not businesses should locate.   I should back up.  [simplified version] My neighborhood was the victim of urban flight – after the interstate system was put in and cheap housing built in the suburbs, hundreds of families moved.  Businesses suffered, the neighborhood suffered, and crime flourished for a time.  Residents who stayed were forced to go out of the community for resources and services.  Then non-City people started realizing the value of urban housing stock and the value of community and neighborhoods and started moving back.  Residential redevelopment in my neighborhood has been vigorous, but the commercial footprint has lagged.  Thus my excitement to see opinionated, passionate discussions on how we as a community can blend business back into our neighborhood.

So this got me thinking about what USED to be here.  Before the interstates went in, before the urban blight, before neighborhoods were isolated and broken.

1956:  Eisenhower was President, Elvis had his first hit with “Heartbreak Hotel”, the polio vaccine was developed, and a gallon of gas cost $0.97.

Shaw had 7 taverns, 23 markets/delicatessens, 7 service stations, 18 barbers/beauty shops, 13 laundrettes, 7 restaurants, 4 bakeries, 4 shoe repair, 5 dentists, and 2 movie theaters!  There were over 140 businessess in what is now known as the Shaw neighborhood – take a look at the Google map to see where they were located.  [they might not match up with the exact current addresses, but I tried to get them as close as possible]

What do you think?  I am also curious to see an earlier business directory – say from the 20s or 30s – would that be an interesting comparison?  It would be fun to overlay those maps, but I don’t have the technical know how. [hint,hint]


15 responses to “1956 Shaw Business Directory

  • Dan T

    That is really cool! Just curious where the discussion is taking place about businesses in the neighborhood? I am really new to the neighborhood.

    • Cara Jensen, historical researcher

      Welcome and thanks for the comment! The Shaw Neighborhood Improvement Association (SNIA) meetings are the 1st Monday of every-other month – the next one is May 6 – 7pm in the basement of St Margaret of Scotland church. Also the Shaw Housing Corporation tries to attract both residential and commercial development. But the SNIA meetings are a great way to get involved and even start topics of discussion.

  • Monte

    That is so cool! Wish those blue markers had business names associated with them! I made something like this a few years ago but I overlaid an old prairie map over the neighborhood so you could see where the little hills and streams were. Hmm, it might be fun to do a series of those maps back through time.

    • Cara Jensen, historical researcher

      Monte – They should have the names – either click on them or go to the larger map – click on the link at the lower left and it should go to the google map. The original map has all the names listed. How did you overlay your map – I thought I could do 1940s, 1930s businesses overlaid.

      • Monte

        Oh, OK — I figured it out. Shaw Super Confectionary was where Mama Josephine’s is now. How wonderful is that — a SUPER Confectionary!!!!

        The map was a class project from grad school. I used a vector-based GIS mapping program and created various raster layers (scans of old maps) and then overlayed them onto the GIS map. This is very technical software that I no longer remember how to use but it is extremely useful for doing just what you want to do. Your map has multiple layers of data and you can turn the layers on and off as you wish as well as manipulating and adding data within layers.

    • Elaine Kidwell

      How Cool! However, in 1956 Shaw Neighborhood extended to Folsom Ave.

  • Laura

    Monte, I would love to see the map you made!

  • Elaine Kidwell

    That is the Shaw Neighborhood I remember. Of course, before I-44 Shaw Neighborhood extended to Folsum. Those businesses were scattered over a larger area. Radine’s Department store stood on the NE corner of Shaw and 39TH Street. One of the theaters occupied the NW corner, where Salima’s is now.

    Elaine Kidwell

  • Elaine Kidwell


    Radine’s Department Store is not showing up when i click the icons. Can you check on that?

  • old st lousian

    I think you may have overstated the # of businesses in your map. Some addresses were likely the home address of the owner of the business, not necessarily where the business was based. For example, I very much doubt a hauling co operated out of the 3900 block of Cleveland. That sort of business would require a truck yard, etc. That’s likely the business owners mailing address I would say.

  • The Historic Shaw Neighborhood, St. Louis, MO - Businesses of Shaw’s Past

    […] 1950 the population in the City of St. Louis was 856,796. According to a post by Jensen on her website, in 1956 Shaw had 7 taverns, 23 markets/delicatessens, 7 service stations, […]

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