Surrounding the city's oldest park, Lafayette Square Neighborhood in Saint Louis was created by a city ordinance in 1836. As the neighborhood developed, it became home to many of the civic and industrial leaders in the city at that time. In the 1850's - 1870's, when St. Louis was the fourth largest city in the country, Lafayette Square Neighborhood was one of the preeminently fashionable areas in the country to live. Done up as mostly Victorian homes, the fashionable dycor of the era was done in grand style. A tornado in 1896 damaged many of the homes, and helped move the area from crime de le crime to has-been.
By 2006, however, the has-been status of the neighborhood was gone and it was back in St. Louis in a big way. Almost all of the grand old houses have been restored, and a plethora of shops and restaurants has flooded into the area. The row houses which had spent much of the past century as tenements and low income housing are being reconverted back into trendy townhomes for professionals.
Just as in the old days, neighborhood associations are a big part of life in Lafayette Square. Responsible for maintaining standards and generating entertainment and interest in the neighborhood, the community associations have done a good job at restoring a touch of class to the neighborhood. While the restored homes may never again rival San Francisco's Painted Ladies, they are a member of the same family.
Visitors to the area will find that dining options are varied, with parking relatively easy to fine. Nightlife is good, with some small brew-pub well-established in the area. The proximity to downtown also makes Lafayette Square convenient for many who wish to see a bit of history while also visiting the Arch or taking in a sporting event downtown.