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Yeakle, M. M. The City of Saint Louis of To-day: Its Progress and Prospects. Truth in Homely Words and Facts in Faithful Figures . St. Louis: J. Osmun Yeakle and Co, 1889. [format: book], [genre: history; narrative; report]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
No enumeration of the population of the city of Saint Louis has been made since the national census of June, 1880, when the population was 350,561 souls. Its growth in the present decade, exceeds the previous experience, but an estimate of the present population is to be found only in knowledge and observation. These afford satisfactory data in estimating the number at the close of the year 1888, or eight and a half years from the period of the last census, and point to the conclusion that it is a half million souls. The grounds for this estimate are ample, patent to all observing and thinking citizens, and may be stated concisely, as follows: During the last decade, this city has witnessed extraordinary development of its rare resources of site and surroundings. All the ready and latent energy of citizens, both of older
and younger blood, have been aroused to intenser life and energy. Its industries have been enlarged through the constant increment of capital and commerce. Its wholesale and jobbing trades have realized greater expansion in solid growth. The suburban development has been very large, both in population and real estate improvements, while the urban has been most extensive and varied in buildings of every description. Residences, large and small, stores and warehouses, colleges and churches, halls, machine shops and factories, the extension of the old, and opening of new streets, the construction of more and lengthened sewers, the largely increased consumption of water and gas, the building of new school houses required by the need of increased school service, the greatly increased number of workmen employed in private and municipal improvements, especially in the making of many miles of new street pavements, and the reconstruction of old ones; and lastly, but not least, the increased throngs of men, women and children observed at every turn on the sidewalks, and crowding the street railways, to which many miles of new track have been added, while demands are constantly made for increase in the facilities of rapid transit.
The new manufacturing plants, and the extension of the old ones a process constantly going on add yearly a large population to St. Louis from abroad, through the demand for skilled workmen, and in providing employment for an army of the youth of both sexes. A mild climate, exemption from epidemic diseases, cheap living, great advantages of primary, academic and collegiate education, the numerous schools in science, art, technical instruction, complete curriculum of education in all professions and pursuits, the public libraries, and numerous other attractions, are constantly filling this city with a population of the refined and cultured. Those ambitious of an education, the artisan and laborer seeking work and employment, and
a countless class of new-comers, constantly make additions to the number of the inhabitants in a swelling tide each season.
The volume of the present population of St. Louis has reached that point of fullness, when, as has been observed in the growth of other cities, (remarkable for which were the cities of London, New York and Brooklyn), it will begin to take increase in a ratio disproportioned to its previous experience; and, it is apparent, that such an era of quickened growth has reached this city, whose increase in population in succeeding decades will be in accordance with the experience of those other very large communities.
To this bright, central spot of earth
To live and labor, to plant our seed than ought
More fruitful, or replete with worth.
That distinguished statesman, William H. Seward, averred in a speech made before a Western audience nearly twenty years ago, that: "Power would not much longer linger on the narrow strip between the Atlantic and the slopes of the Alleghenies, but that the commanding field would be in the Upper Mississippi Valley, where men and institutions would speak and communicate their will to the Nation and the world!"
The year 1889 witnesses the fulfilment of that prediction. Just one hundred years ago, the commonwealth of Virginia ratified her gift, by deed of conveyance to the United States, of the "Northwest Territory," which then did not contain one hundred white persons, if we except
the French settlements in the "Illinois country," opposite St. Louis. And five hundred French inhabitants of that town constituted the whole remainder of the Caucasian race west of Pittsburgh.
Of the 401 electoral votes cast for the chief magistrate of the nation in 1888, only 164 belong to the original thirteen colonial states; and to the 237 votes which remain, will shortly be added those of new states applying for admission into the Federal Union.
Chapter II. The Saint Louis Real Estate Exchange Association.
Our mother earth so fair!
Brings forth her golden sheaves,
Her certain task, nor leaves
It long, but surely there
She sheds her gifts around.
President, Leon L. Hull; Vice-President, Charles F. Vogel; Board of Directors: Charles C. Crone, John T. Percy, Charles H. Turner, James S. Farrar;  Secretary and Treasurer, Thomas F. Farrelly.
The real estate business of this city is mainly in the hands of the members of the Real Estate Exchange, an organization which has grown from a small beginning, in 1877, to be most important and useful. In its membership may be found the most prominent and influential real estate, loan and rental agents of Saint Louis.
The advantages of the Association are numerous, both to the public and to the agents themselves. It provides a large exchange hall, where the agents may meet and discuss matters relative to their business; and for the holding of auction sales of property. It is expected that ere long the (legal or) "judicial" sales of real estate will be authorized by law to be held at the Exchange, instead of at the Court House doorsteps. The change would be most advantageous by increasing the number of competitive bidders. The Exchange keeps for public inspection, lists of stores, houses, rooms, flats, and other property for rent, lease or sale. The renter, buyer, and public generally are constantly
furnished with current information in matters of city real estate through the medium of The Real Estate Bulletin, a well conducted weekly paper.
The high standing in community of the members of the Exchange, is a sufficient guarantee for fidelity to their trusts. The Board of Directors is composed of members chosen for their special activity. The advantages of the Exchange are large and increasing.
The first and most important consideration when dealing in real estate is to secure a clear and unimpeachable title, in which respect investors in St. Louis realty are especially safe. The "Concessions," or grants of land and lots of ground, made during the French and Spanish ownerships, were duly made, and were executed in the presence, and under the seal of the Governor of "Upper Louisiana," and recorded in the "Livres Terriens." These were afterwards transferred, together with all the "Papers" and "Documents" of the "Archives," to the custody of the United States, in 1804, and are preserved, together with duplicates at the City Record Office, (Saint Louis) having been transcribed into other books of record.
A description is given in the fifth chapter of this book of the "Livres Terriens," or Books of Record; and, the "Archives."
Chapter III. Review of the Property Interests of St. Louis in Recent Years.
Unlike some of the cities and towns in the West, Saint Louis has not been given to wild speculation in real estate. Prices have been measured according to the value when changing hands; and it has, as a general rule, ever been safe to buy the real estate of this city, whether improved or unimproved. After the financial panic of 1873, St. Louis experienced a depression in the market value of its real estate in common with the whole land but the property being held largely by strong owners, the decline was less than in any other large city. Few other cities of the United States present equal prospects, or are able to offer as ample assurances of substantial returns on capital invested in real estate. Besides, St. Louis for loans on property is one of the very best localities.
This city is chiefly owned by its citizens, and in this respect differs from many other large cities. Out of a population of half a million souls there are over 55,000 tax payers, which is indicative of the comfortable position of the inhabitants at large. 
It is of interest in this connection to note the following table, showing the assessed value of property for the last
twenty-five years, beginning one year prior to the close of the civil war.
It is necessary to state, that in Saint Louis it has never been the custom in the assessment of real estate to make valuations for outside effect, but to lean to the side of the tax payers, and make each valuation considerably less than the property would bear.
A steady increase in real estate valuations continued up to the year 1874, when a decline set in occasioned by the financial depression of that year throughout the nation, and which lasted several years from the same cause. Also in 1878, when a general decline in real estate values was experienced throughout the country as the result of preparation for the resumption of coin payment, Jan. 1, 1879, property at St. Louis fell under a temporary depression in price. But, since then, there has been a steady increase in value. Each year has witnessed a growing demand both for desirable unimproved ground and improved property. New districts have been platted into lots, streets opened and extended, followed by sewerage
and general improvements. Of late, the demand has been large for desirable residence plots, and single lots. West of Grand Avenue, ground which seven years ago was sold for at from ten to twenty dollars per front foot, now brings from seventy to one hundred and ten dollars per front foot. Within the business centres, and beyond, as well, prices have largely increased, and legitimately too; notably on special streets. Most of the purchases, made within the few past years in business localities, were for investment, and the holders are not desirous to give up property that has a still greater future.
It will be noticed from the foregoing table of the annual assessment of the real and personal property, that there has been a growth of sixty million dollars within the ten years, from 1878 to 1888. A much greater proportionate increase may very reasonably be expected within the next decade.
The late extensions of established streets and avenues, including additions of tine plots of ground, are in process of construction and improvement. Several grand public boulevards and private "places," recently finished, are occupied and in use at the close of 1888. Among them
is a public boulevard, of one mile in length, the roadway 100 feet, and sidewalks each 25 feet in width. The latter is granitoid and the former Telford pavement with a top layer of Maremec red gravel level as a lawn. Another boulevard of equal length and similar construction, is being made a few blocks distant, and both end at Forest Park. These magnificent avenues and drives, beside others not specially referred to, are unsurpassed by any others in the land.
Most of all of the purchases of lots, in recent years, have been for early or immediate improvement, and building permits have kept pace with the transfers of ownership. The permits of the last ten years have been as follows:
1888, Beginning with the municipal fiscal year, April 9th, to December 12th, a period of eight months and three days, the permits were for $6,793,208.00.
These figures do not represent the actual sum expended, since few buildings are ever completed for the estimated cost, and for this reason, the total sum should be at least one-fifth more. This is known to be the case in the estimates of the outlay on several large structures finished, and yet building, in the year 1888. The buildings completed in
that year, namely, those for banks, offices, stores, churches, palatial dwellings, etc., excel in architectural splendor and size, with few exceptions, any that have ever been constructed in this city.
Within the city limits during the year 1888, several eligible and desirable tracts and plots of ground have changed hands, each costing with the surface improvements from a quarter to three-fourths of a million dollars. They have been platted, graded and sewered, and are on sale by the agents of the proprietors. Among the finest of all the splendid drives is Lindell Boulevard, which with others, vie with those of any city of the land.
Chapter IV. St. Louis' Real Estate.
St. Louis has only recently begun to draw the careful and marked attention of capitalists and investors of other localities; it has almost suddenly become apparent to them that here is as promising a spot for investments as Chicago ever was; and that in the future race for pre-eminence in population, and its accompaniments, of commerce and manufactures, it is a rival, whose grand future may not be disparaged in comparison with the Lake City. Now, at the threshold of the twentieth century, the time is marked with such improvement, culture and refinement advancing steadily with the growth of population that this city will bear comparison with any other metropolis.
The present is a favorable period in the growth and development of St. Louis, for the investment of capital in unoccupied grounds, which may be chosen as promisingly, with slight exceptions, in any portion of the city. Through all parts new streets have been made and others extended. Sewerage advances apace with the improvement and development of new localities. No wild inflation nor "booming" as that word is commonly understood is indulged in at St. Louis, but the instrinsic and rapidly appreciating value of its real estate both urban and suburban is manifest to all intelligent observers, and especially to those who take the pains to make examination.
There is ample room for the profitable employment of more capital in banking, in the establishment of more manufacturing industries, and in trade and commerce
in general; to meet the wants of the great valley, and populous territory beyond, which seek Saint Louis as the most convenient and direct market of supply and demand.
Few large cities of our country have as many solid attractions for the residence of a family, composed of parents and children, as this city. To state the facts briefly, a house may be purchased, or rented, at a reasonable even low price. Schools, churches and modern improvements are found in every quarter. Stores and markets are convenient. An abundant supply of good water, gas and
thorough sewerage is found in every developed district. Rapid transit on upwards of 160 miles of street railways, is available, every five minutes and under, at a five cent fare for any distance. Institutions and societies for intellectual and physical improvement, and for rational delight are numerous. Libraries are open to the public at a merely nomial cost. The necessaries and luxuries of life are abundant and cheap. Saloons are closed 24 hours on Sundays. Gambling is forbidden by State and Municipal laws, which are rigidly enforced. And the policing of the city being rigid and active, there are few temptations or allurements which youth may not avoid, provided, the training be proper at home, and that made attractive as it can be. Finally, the climate is mild, and in healthfulness St. Louis is equal to the most favored cities of the United States. And, in many other respects, this city is a delightful place of residence.
Chapter V. Titles to Real Estate of the Original "Commons," and Other French and Spanish "Concessions."
The titles to the original "Common Fields" of the early Town of St. Louis were derived: First, from the French and Spanish governments, whose titles were afterwards maintained by special Acts of the Congress of the United States at the instance of the municipality of St. Louis, in all to 3837 acres. Secondly, from the City of St. Louis. These lands were sold by the city, and the title conveyed is both undisputed and indisputable. Reference is made to chapter six on the "Common Fields" for a detailed account of these lands.
The Congress of the United States passed an "Act (dated June 12, 1866) authorizing documentary evidence of titles to the owner of lands in the City of St. Louis." Under this act 109 decrees have been issued by the District Court of the United States at St. Louis.
Various acts have been passed by Congress, from time to time, ratifying or confirming claims made under the former acts, and also the claims of individuals to particular tracts.
At the present time, all legal principles regulating claims and titles have been thoroughly settled by the courts, and conflicting claims have been adjusted by compromise or court decisions; and, accordingly, very few spots are any longer in dispute. The facilities for examining land titles with accuracy and dispatch are so complete at St. Louis, that purchasers of property can readily satisfy themselves of the validity of their title should they wish to investigate the work of the abstractor.
The Book of Registry of grants and transfers of lands at the village of St. Louis was called, in French, the Livre Terrien. 
The "livres terriens," or provincial land records, together with all the documents and papers of the "archives," were handed over by the retiring Spanish Lieut. Governor to Captain Amos Stoddard, U. S. A., who represented the United States at Saint Louis, in March 1804, the date of the "Cession." The number of the documents, etc., exceeded three thousand, many of which remain on deposit with the Recorder at the present day. Books were provided in 1816, in which all these documents were transcribed, and they filled six large volumes.
All papers and documents of record were invariably executed in the presence of the Lieut. Governor of the Province (of Upper Louisiana), or of his official representative, and were deposited in his keeping. They were kept in the French language up to 1770, and afterwards in the Spanish.
An arpent or arpen comprised 192 feet, 6 inches each way, or 37,756 feet square, and about 85.07 of an acre English measure. A league square contained 7,056 arpens.
The term "archives" from the Latin depositorium, originally signified a place of deposit for the safe keeping of official documents, and subsequently included the term "papers," or documents of esteemed value therein deposited.
Here at St. Louis, at the present day, when speaking of the French and Spanish "archives" of the early village,
we apply the term to the books in which a large portion of their early documents were recorded. These were "concessions" or grants of lots and lands, leases, deeds, wills, inventories, powers of attorney, agreements, marriage contracts, and various other documents of a miscellaneous sort relating to persons and things.
Of real and personal property at Saint Louis, in 1811, covered only sixteen pages of ordinary "fool's cap" paper, but in the assessment for the year of 1888, the property required over seventy large books to set it forth.
Chapter VI. The Early Commons of St. Louis.
The "Common Fields" were four in number, viz: "The Prairie des Noyer," in the south-west original suburbs, beginning at or near Grand avenue on their east side. The grounds of Henry Shaw were a part of this prairie, including the Botanical Gardens and Tower Grove Park.
Next, the "Cul de Sac" Common Fields, which were situated a little north of Prairie des Noyer.
Then, the "St. Louis Common Fields," beginning, on the east, about Fourth street, and extending westward to Jefferson avenue. They embraced the territory bounded by Walnut street on the south, and Palm street on the north.
Lastly, "Grande Prairie Fields," bounded on the east by Grand avenue, on the west by Marcus, on the north by Florissant, and on the south by McPherson avenue.
The "Commons" were the public pasturing and haying grounds from the earliest settlement, but the best portions of them were cultivated for corn, wheat and vegetables. They aggregated 45,010.48 arpens, or 3,837.03 acres. They were "Conceded" by the French and Spanish Governments of Louisiana for the use and benefit of the people of the town of St. Louis. To define, establish and confirm these grants, to the city of St. Louis, (and others to individual persons,) the Congress of the United States passed the following acts, viz:
These acts were in pursuance of Article III of the Treaty of Cession of the Territory of Louisiana by the French Republic to the United States. The "Text" of that article is as follows: "The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be incorporated in the Union of the United States, and admitted as soon as possible, according to the principles of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the rights, advantages and immunities of citizens of the United States; and, in the meantime, they shall be maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their liberty, property and the religion which they profess."
These acts of Congress (mentioned in order of date), made for the purpose of ascertaining and adjudicating titles, were supplemented by acts of the General Assembly of the State of Missouri, which authorized the City Government of St. Louis to survey, subdivide and sell all the St. Louis Commons. The City availed itself of this authority, and the Council ordered, in March, 1835, a survey and sale thereof; and, accordingly, sold the entire Common Fields, (comprising 3,837 acres), for about the sum of $400,000.00. Very soon after these sales, many of the buyers became dissatisfied with their purchases, thinking that they had paid quite too much! and, great financial troubles coming on soon afterwards throughout the United States, the result was, that nearly every acre lapsed to the City for unpaid taxes, within a few years.
In 1854, or nearly twenty years thereafter, the City having meanwhile become repossessed of the greater part of the "Commons" under the tax laws, the municipality again advertised and sold the larger part of them, at public sales during the years 1854-55-56 and 1858 for a sum aggregating $670,000.00. In 1859, what remained were sold. The prices ranged from $500.00 to $7,700.00 per front foot, and produced $80,601.00. So great was the public interest in these sales, that several hundred bidders were
present at each day of sale, and competing for the ownership. The total sales amounted to $750,601.00. Ten per cent. of that sum was voted by the people into the Common School Fund, and the remainder into the City Treasury and Sinking Fund. The terms of these sales were one-sixth cash, the remainder in five annual payments, drawing six per cent, interest per annum.
Chapter VII. The Old Business Section: Will be Revived.
As is well known, the improved property for twenty squares between Franklin avenue on the north and Chouteau avenue on the south, and from Front to Fourth street was almost the exclusive business part of this city, for merchants, manufacturers and offices, until shortly after the civil war. The first Lindell Hotel was built on Washington avenue just prior to the peace. Other large hotels were already established on and near Fourth street. Within a few years thereafter Barnum's and the Olive street hotels were closed. The German hotels on Second street, alone remained, and are still active. About the date of the completion of the Eads Bridge, all the more important hotels were located either upon or a square or two beyond the verge of the old business limit, at Fourth street.
Amongst the earliest to remove from the old limits, were jobbing and wholesale merchants: but, they went gradually, at first only a square or two, then somewhat further westward. That class of merchants continues to establish business still further in the same direction.
For a half century after Laclede's time, all the ground east of Fourth street was known as "under the hill." Originally, a bluff of limestone rock, of the height of thirty feet, beginning at Market street, and extending to St. Charles Road, occupied the line of Front, Commercial and Main streets. The "bluff" was utilized for its building stone, and houses were built where once it stood; until, as time progressed, the town extended to, and beyond the hill spreading more and more and, in 1876, the western boundary of the corporation was fixed seven miles west from, and nineteen miles along the River Front, where it has since remained. But, it was not until steamboats were largely supersceded by railroads in the transportation
of freight and passengers, that the moving impulse was felt injuriously to East-End property values. In 1874, upon the completion of the Eads' Bridge and Tunnel, the Union Depot for all the railroads entering the city was established two-thirds of a mile from the river, which greatly impaired the property valuations in the old district.
A somewhat similar movement occurred at the City of New York forty years since, and progressed rapidly for a few years; then, very gradually. At that city, the establishment of the railroad depots, and some of the largest and best hotels in "up town" localities, led to the exodus of the jobbing, importing and dry goods commission merchants from the old to new locations, and nearer the transient homes of their customers. At that day, New York did not possess any facilities of "rapid transit."
In the last particular, the case is different with St. Louis, since rapid transit is found to-day through several street lines leading from the direction of, and near the East-End. Business men lose no time between their home and office, distant two, three, four and more miles. There is a still greater dissimilarity between New York city and St. Louis. The East-End stretch of this city is many miles in extent, whilst that of the former city is a slender point of land, from which the removal of business men dealing with the country merchants occurred. That the Merchants' Railway Bridge, with its terminal surface and elevated railway facilities, will be constructed at an early date is now an established certainty, which gives an entirely new aspect to the question of the eligibility of the East-End improved property. From this time there will be few removals on the part of those who have remained at the East-End; and fresh occupants of new warehouses will seek to be accommodated within the limits of the old district whose restoration is only a question of a few years.
But, were the Merchants' Bridge and Terminals never to be built! the East-End property would still be very valuable. In what part of this city can be found property as suitable for dealers in all descriptions of heavy and bulky goods, and especially of raw materials for manufacturing, such as coal, ores, blooms and other mineral products; lumber, timber, cotton, wool, hides and grain, not to mention flour, meats and machinery? The answer comes on the instant: "That no other location will bear advantageous comparison with that of the East-End in eligibility of situation, and in special adaptability to all heavy lines of mercantile, manufacturing and commission business, including warehouses for goods and machinery."
Then, if this be so, the business property, not only within the "old limits," but all property both the improved and the unimproved for several miles of river frontage, possesses a high intrinsic value and fast-bound quality, which is as enduring as the earth!
Yeakle, M. M. The City of Saint Louis of To-day: Its Progress and Prospects. Truth in Homely Words and Facts in Faithful Figures . St. Louis: J. Osmun Yeakle and Co, 1889. [format: book], [genre: history; narrative; report]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
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