History of Maplewood Business District
Follow this link to the poster: Maplewood Business District: A Century of Prosperity
The Maplewood business district is the oldest developed area in the city of St. Louis. Manchester Road lay at the center of the Maplewood business district and was the first site of development. Stores and shops were built along both sides of the street prior to the turn of the century. The business area attracted patrons from around the metropolitan area, and shops along the main drag of Manchester Road became part of a well-known retail hub even before it could be referred to as a shopping center. Maplewood is home to stores that have been anchored and operating in the Maplewood neighborhood for generations. Over time, Maplewood's businesses have undergone many cosmetic changes, and the land has begun to be used for many new and different reasons. Still, for the township of Maplewood one thing holds constant: its business district remains a thriving place to shop and a prosperous place to work.
Though the Maplewood business district has prospered for over a century, it is also an area in transition and turmoil. A large retailer, Goldie's Department Store, a major anchor in the business district, was destroyed by fire in the 1950s. Goldie's decided not to rebuild in the main Maple Business Districts, and both residents and leaders were concerned that Goldie's disappearance was the first nail in Maplewood's coffin, however this wasn't enough to destroy interest in the area. In addition to losing a key anchor, other suburban shopping centers started to emerge. These two factors were a major blow in reducing the shopping in the Maplewood business district, which caused the area to suffer turmoil and experience a tide of many business fronts that left as quickly as they came.
Over the course of a twenty to thirty year period (1950 to 1979) the faces of Maplewood business district changed very rapidly as many redevelopment projects were attempted and then failed. These negative forces could not stop businesses like True Value Hardware, Citizens Bank and Empire Supply Company from not just enduring, but thriving in the same district; and it could not stop new ones, like the well known Church's Chicken from setting up shop.
Maplewood pays tribute to Route 66 on Manchester road with Hollywood strip styled memorials and plaques. The Maplewood businesses that were a part of the original Route 66 are memorialized on this legendary road. On the 7200 and 7300 blocks of Manchester, visitors can find sidewalk plaques telling the story of Maplewood businesses that were operating when the original route was constructed through the St. Louis area between 1926 and 1933.
In recent years, the Maplewood business district has been expanded and renamed Maplewood's Special Business District, which includes Maplewood's Historic Downtown and a very vibrant part of South Big Bend, Sutton, and Manchester roads. The heart of the district is a walkable community with just about everything within a few footsteps, a destination centered on shopping, dining and entertainment. Maplewood's Special Business District is stamped with certain unique branding that distinguishes itself from other business districts, including its signage, trash cans, and street lights. Over the last decade these characteristic have been used to identify the exclusive shopping and entertainment district. In an effort to revitalize the business district, the city is exploring other options to improve the business area and offering incentives to new and existing businesses within the Special Business District, such as block grants for signage and facade improvement grants.