By. Chris Stritzel
Whether you have ever had the experience of living there, driving through here, patronizing the numerous businesses or even participating in Mardi Gras, Soulard is undoubtable St. Louis' best preserved historic district. Numerous houses line the streets that give it a vibe unlike any other. No other neighborhood can even compare to the vibe that Soulard lets off. If the wind blows from the South, the Brewery (Anheuser Busch), can be smelled. Down on the streets, numerous shops and restaurants along with bars, provide the neighborhood with plenty of meeting places.
Unlike New Orleans's French Quarter and Bourbon Street, Soulard isn't one big Tourist Trap, it is a neighborhood. The only real big touristy thing within the neighborhood is the historic Farmers Market on 7th Boulevard. Even then, there are far more locals at the market than tourists. The Farmer's Market really allows Residents to get fresh produce and products directly from farmers rather than going to large chain grocery stores and spending more money. It is also a history trip because of how old the market is. It was originally built in 1841 but rebuilt in 1929. It remains an anchor to this historic neighborhood to this day.
The houses were mostly built in the late 1800s. Mostly from 1885 to 1895, but there are some houses here from as far back as the 1850s. They are kept up really well for their age and prospective residents can't get enough of them. If you want a house or apartment in this neighborhood, better look and choose fast because just as fast as the listings show up, they are gone. That then requires the construction of new buildings and historic restoration to solve the residential shortage ion the neighborhood.
At Gravois and Russell, a 5 floor apartment building is under construction to serve a large influx in residents to the neighborhood. Along 7th Boulevard, at Victor Street, another 5 floor apartment building is getting ready to rise to, once again, serve the large influx of residents into the neighborhood. Other smaller infill projects have been proposed such as historic restoration and ground-up new construction. At 1001 Russell, a proposed 21 unit apartment and retail building is ready to rise. All three of these developments will add 275 Apartments to the historic district and possibly up the neighborhood's population by about 600.
The dense population of Soulard, before the additional residents from the three above construction projects, is 3,440 people in 389 square acres. That is 6000+/- per square mile. Very dense for this neighborhood. However, the density coupled with street parking makes Mardi Gras VERY hectic. People have to get parking passes and park far away from their homes or apartments during this one day event. As over 100,000 people crowd into Soulard for the parade and music, the neighborhood descends into chaos. Trash lines the street and hopeless drunks wonder the streets while being flashed by boobs from drunk women and large men.
But that is the fun of Mardi Gras! You never now what you are going to see! After the fun ends, the City and Mardi Gras organization stages an overnight cleanup of trash and what not in the streets to where, by Sunday morning, it looks like nothing happened (besides the tents and ice piles). Mardi Gras in St. Louis is the second largest Mardi Gras in the country behind New Orleans and is the second largest event in St. Louis City in a year. The First is Fair St. Louis and Third is St. Patrick's Day and Fourth is Oktoberfest (which is celebrated in Soulard).
By living in Soulard, you immediately become part of the hottest real estate market in the City! How about that! But you also become part of the history of Soulard by living in some of the oldest houses in the City. In the end, you can be assured that everything you want is in Soulard. Even as it changes, it will not lose its charm that makes Soulard, Soulard.