University City is a model urban community lying just west of St. Louis’ city limits. The city is home to expositions, art galleries, and theaters that make this municipality an unparalleled cultural center. Washington University hosts intellectual and artistic capital not seen anywhere else in the region. The presence of this internationally-recognized research university also lends a cosmopolitan and foreign flavor to University City. Olive Boulevard is home to St. Louis’ hub of Chinese culture. Foreign films are often on display at the Tivoli Theatre and boutique grocery stores offer a wide variety of foods from abroad.
In 1902, Edward Gardner Lewis bought 85 acres northwest of Forest Park. This land was to serve as the headquarters of his newspaper corporation as well as providing space for the development of an upper middle-class community. The 1904 World’s Fair and subsequent Olympic Games led to further development of the area and the creation of architectural marvels, many of which still stand. University City became a prosperous streetcar suburb. The loop through University City taken by the Delmar streetcar attracted a retail sector to complement the community’s residential developments. Today, that same Delmar Loop is home to the St. Louis Walk of Fame and over 130 businesses. These include The Pageant, the area’s premier concert venue and club, and Blueberry Hill, a restaurant and music club frequented by rock n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry. The Loop serves as a focal point to bring community members together. Events like the Loop Ice Carnival bring residents of all ages together to enjoy and explore their city.
University City is home to relaxed, residential neighborhoods that are ideal for quiet gatherings, as well as urban districts that offer nightlife and retail conveniences. Old architectural marvels remain, many of them Tudor homes constructed of stately brick. Cozy ranch homes and modern townhouses add to the substantial housing spectrum. Subdivisions such as West Jackson Park and Forsyth Place are home to picturesque lanes and shaded, wooded lots. Detached, residential properties sold for a median price of $350,000 in 2016. This represents a remarkable 84% price increase when compared with the 2011 median of $190,000. Condo and villa values have similarly increased, from a 2011 median of $131,500 to a 2016 median of $154,125.
University City serves as the cultural heart of St. Louis County. The Center of Creative Arts (COCA) trains students in theater, dance, and art. These students, in turn, put on plays, recitals, and art exhibitions that the whole community can enjoy. Componere Gallery of Art showcases local artistic talent, and The Craft Alliance gives patrons the opportunity to buy locally-produced art and handmade crafts. Those seeking to enjoy a display of nature’s beauty will be appreciate the presence of U City in Bloom. This group of engaged citizens tends to community gardens and ensures that public spaces remain points of pride for residents. University City maintains over 150 acres of public parklands. 85-acre Heman Park includes houses the Centennial Commons Recreation Facility and the Heman Park Swimming Pool. Ruth Park Golf Club is home to a public course which is among the best in St. Louis County.
The School District of University City began holding classes in September 1912, and has been educating the children of University City ever since. The University City High School Hall of Fame has recognized prominent alumni who have succeed in fields including engineering, medicine, and journalism. Students also have access to many private and faith-based options. The Freedom School, Agape Academy, and Esther Miller Bais Yaakov are some of the schooling options which contribute to University City students’ high academic achievement.