Northwest St. Louis County, particularly the historic municipalities through which St. Charles Rock Road runs, have begun a suburban image renewal effort. St. Charles Rock Road began as an “Indian trail” and has a fascinating local history that may come as a surprise to those in the metro St. Louis area unfamiliar with it.
St. Charles Rock Road is the main drag through St. Louis, and long-time St. Ann resident, Steve Erdelen, has taken a lead in the image renewal strategy. He has begun a new publication (in newspaper “tab” format for now) to bring good attention back to the businesses and residents of this Northwest St. Louis County area just south of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. I am doing my part to support the publication by writing a wine column for it.
Click on the link here to see the column.
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Today, in terms of place-marking, the best known image along St. Charles Rock Road in St. Ann is probably the animated majorette sign at the Airway Centre. The sign dates back to the mid-century days when the Airway was one of multiple drive-in theaters along “the Rock Road.” Mid-century describes the vintage vibe the area largely retains.
In addition to the Airway sign, other familiar mid-century landmarks here include:
- Chuck-A-Burger, and its summer “Cruise Nights”
- McCarty Studio Photography, and its retro Lustron building storefront
- Carhop Auto Sales, and its “bat-wing” service station building (formerly housing a vintage modern Phillips 66)
- Post-World-War II housing styles in a walkable village environment
- Commercial buildings dating to 1943 in a small-town downtown strip (corner of St. Charles Rock Road and St. Gregory Lane) originally occupied by a grocery, hardware store, realty office, drug store, barber and beauty shops
St. Charles Rock Road was laid out by the Spanish in 1772 and was the first road through St. Louis County, largely following the old “Indian trail.” It served as the road to St. Charles, Missouri—the state’s first capitol.