History of The Hill
The unique neighborhood known as “The Hill” is a fifty-two square block section in the near south side of the City of St. Louis, Missouri. The Hill’s boundaries are Manchester on the north, Kingshighway on the east, Southwest/Columbia on the south, and Hampton on the west. The neighborhood lies an eighth of a mile from the highest point in the City (the State Hospital), thus earning its designation.
When the first English and German immigrants arrived prior to the American Civil War, the area was a remote five miles from the Mississippi River. They joined small enclave of African Americans who preceded them. The Italian immigrants first arrived in the 1880s intending to work in the clay mines. The Hill and surrounding lands held a vast deposit of high-quality clay that was ideal for fire brick used in industrial coal powered plants. The mines also yielded clay used for brick houses and businesses. By 1910 six foundries were fully operational.
When demand for labor increased Italians responded by sending for sons, brothers, cousins, and village mates. Eventually wives and daughters followed. As the community grew, so did the need for services such as grocers, bakers, barbers, merchants, and construction workers. Taverns dotted most corners of The Hill. Pre-TV and radio, the tavern was the place to exchange news, network, and relax. (The dominance of the restaurants slowly grew after World War II). The Hill became its own self-contained neighborhood with most residents leaving the area only on rare occasions because everything they needed was just a short walk away.
Visit The Hill Neighborhood Center
The Hill neighborhood has been home to many prominent St. Louisans throughout its history including Yogi Berra, Frank Borghi, Charlie Colombo, Joe Garagiola Sr. and Gino Pariani. You could say we have plenty of stories to tell. For artifacts, archives and documents – visit The Hill Neighborhood Center museum any time.
The Heart of the Hill
In 1903, St. Ambrose opened as a mission church. By 1907, St. Ambrose became its own parish. It was a wooden structure that unfortunately burned in 1921. However, the community of the faithful pledged to pay for the current St. Ambrose Church that was dedicated in 1926.
Baseball great, Yogi Berra was born on The Hill, as was his best friend Cardinal catcher and Today show host Joe Garagiola. Four of the five St. Louisans on the 1950 American World Cup Soccer team were also from The Hill. The Americans earned a lasting reputation as the rag-tag team who defeated Cup favorite England in a 1-0 upset.
Baseball on the Hill
Berra Park boasts the namesake of Mr. Yogi Berra with close-quartered baseball fields available for youth play. Neighbors will also frequently participate in softball leagues and play at this park.
If not chasing foul balls at one of the parks, a baseball lover can head over to a local pub and catch a Cardinals game on TV. Better yet, shuttles to home games run from several establishments throughout The Hill.
traditions on the hill
The community also values tradition. There are several annual festivals including St. Joseph’s Altar, honoring the saint on his feast day, Easter Egg Hunt, Wine Walk, Fireworks in the Park, Soapbox Derby, The Hill House Tour, Giro della Montagne professional cycling races, Italian Heritage Parade and Festa, Turkey Bowl (soccer) in Berra Park, concert series in Piazza Imo, and Winter Festa. The grade school and the Sacred Heart Villa also have annual events. Piazza Imo is The Hill’s newest major attraction. The fountain was imported from Italy. It complements the church in the best of Italian traditions.
The Hill has over twenty-five places to eat, four grocers, bakeries, and a variety of unique shops. Come to spend the day with us!