Beginning in the mid-19th century, St. Louis' wealthiest and most powerful citizens designed a unique solution to the unrestricted and relentless expansion of the industrial city into previously exclusive residential neighborhoods. That solution was the private place, a street owned entirely by its residents and governed by a number of restrictive covenants intended to keep the burgeoning metropolis at bay. A surprisingly large number of these private places have survived and thrived into the 21st century, with the largest concentration located in St. Louis' Central West End. This c. 3 hour bicycle tour will explore the remarkable architecture (exteriors only) of eight of these private streets, whose houses inspired a national magazine in 1902 to rhapsodize that "It is said that to see a truly beautiful woman . . . you must go to Paris. It may be just as truly said that to see a truly beautiful home . . . you must go to St. Louis." Many of these homes were built by businessmen whose companies once were household names; one was occupied briefly by one of the pre-eminent poets of the 20th century; and one house has walls that don't talk but surely do rock n' roll.
A bicycle and a helmet are included in the tour's cost. Mike's Bikes, our local Central West End bike shop, is our supplier.
A discounted price is available to any guests who bring their own bicycles and helmets.
We'll explore, time permitting, eight private streets in St. Louis' Central West End neighborhood. Our tour will visit (among others) the former home of one of most successful rail car manufacturers in the country and a prominent antiquarian book collector; the only extant St. Louis residence of one of the 20th century's most acclaimed poets; and the home of a man who transformed the musical culture of the entire planet.
Private Streets of the CWE by Bicycle