The Hill

The Hill is a neighborhood in South St. Louis City.  The neighborhood is known for its Italian heritage that is prevalent more so than any other ethnic neighborhood in St. Louis going into the 21st century.  The building stock varies widely but consists mainly of small well maintained bungalows and shotgun houses.  There are larger 2 story homes, new construction, and 2-4 family flats on many blocks as well.  There is even a presence of new construction townhomes and a suburban style high end neighborhood on the south side of the neighborhood where St. Aloysius Gonzaga once stood.  The Hill boasts a more urban and walkable feel than nearly any neighborhood that is west of Kingshighway. The main thoroughfares such as Shaw, Arsenal, Edwards, and Marconi are packed with restaurants, markets, shops, and offices in nearly every storefront.  Most businesses are proud of their Italian heritage and many incorporate Italian flags and colors into their logos and signs. You’ll know you’re on The Hill when you see the fire hydrants painted as an Italian flag and the Italian flag banners on the light poles.  The neighborhood is bounded by Manchester on the north, Kingshighway on the east, Columbia/Southwest on the south, and Hampton on the West.  Highway 44 cuts through the north side of the neighborhood and heart of the neighborhood lies south of the highway starting with Shaw Blvd.  The Hill earned its name because of its proximity to the highest point in the city south of the neighborhood at Arsenal and Sublette, the site of Sublette Park.

In the 1890’s Italian immigrants moved into the area to work in the nearby clay mines and factories.  The neighborhood quickly grew up around them and several long standing institutions in the St. Louis Italian community were founded.  One such institution is St. Ambrose parish.  St. Ambrose was founded in 1903 to help serve the needs of Northern Italian immigrants in the area while there was a parish Downtown that served the needs of Sicilian immigrants.  The Downtown church closed in 1975 but St. Ambrose had already long been the center of Italian culture in St. Louis for many years by that time. In a time where many diocesecan schools are closing and parishes are combining, due to lack community support, St. Ambrose continues to thrive.  The parish school remains open and their services are well attended by people from all over the area that come back to St. Ambrose to be a part of The Hill and their own personal heritage.  At the same time neighborhood residents strongly support the parish. Many residents have lived in the neighborhood their whole lives.  Many are 2nd and 3rd generation residents.  They have attended St. Ambrose school and mass and continue to support the parish for the rest of their lives.

The two driving forces behind The Hill’s popularity and viability over the last 100 years have been a plethora of Italian restaurants/businesses and the presence of St. Ambrose Church and parish life.  The restaurants have arguably been just as important to The Hill’s vitality as St. Ambrose.  There are restaurants, delis, bakeries, and Italian markets at nearly every corner with several commercial corridors that are lined with businesses and a smattering of residences.  People come from all over the region to dine at the restaurants on The Hill.  It is a destination neighborhood in the truest sense, yet it lacks the rowdiness of bar and nightlife districts.  The neighborhood has a quiet laid back feel in the evenings.  The Hill has some of the finest restaurants in the entire area, family restaurants, delis and neighborhood corner places as well.  Another communal activity that the neighborhood is known for is bocce.  There are 2 well known places to play bocce on The Hill with Milo’s being the most well known because it is a bar/restaurant as well.

The Hill 2000 is one of the strongest and best organized neighborhood associations in the city.  They maintain a fantastic website with tons of information on the neighborhood, restaurants, and events.

The location of The Hill is one of its greatest assets going into the 21st century.  It is the gateway to the southwest part of the city that has a more suburban family appeal to it for many.  Yet at the same time The Hill has a truly walkable urban setup.  Tower Grove Park and the Missouri Botanical Garden are walking distance for much of the neighborhood and has Sublette Park is located on its southern boundary.  The Hill sits near highway 44 and is less than 10 minutes to Downtown.  It is only a 5 minute drive up Hampton or Kingshighway to get to Highway 64/40.

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If you have any questions about the The Hill please feel free to contact me through the website or call Jim Willen at 314-753-8540

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