During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, St. Louis’ population grew steadily. By the 1930s the population of the city was around 821,960, and the Great Depression had stopped economic growth. The manufacturing output fell by 57 percent between 1929 and 1933, slightly more than the national average of 55 percent. As of 1939, St. Louis’ industrial production was only 70 percent of what it was in 1929, while national industrial production was 84 percent in 1929.
The brewing industry recovered after Prohibition was repealed in 1933, but this still wasn’t enough to compensate for the losses in industrial production in St. Louis. In the 1930s, mandatory minimum wage laws made it illegal for black workers to be appointed to the same jobs as white workers, and many black workers were fired and replaced by white workers. Many Black workers were only paid room and board in the domestic service industry, and skilled Black craftsmen were usually excluded from joining local unions and finding work as construction workers.
A total of $ 1.5 million of the city’s funds were allocated for relief operations during the early years of the Depression, while $300,000 was given to the Salvation Army and another $1 million to the St Vincent de Paul Society. The city voted in late 1932 to issue a $4.6 million bond issue so that additional relief funds could be provided, and the Board of Aldermen and Mayor Dickmann balanced the budget in 1933 by cutting expenditures by 11 percent. Thousands of St. Louisans were employed by New Deal programs such as the Public Works Administration, which provided food and shelter.
African Americans created a growing share of the newcomers during that period. Over the following decades, the population of St. Louis declined rapidly. Most of those leaving the city were of European ancestry who fled to the suburbs; these communities quickly grew.
Below are some fascinating historical photos that will take you back to 1930s St. Louis.
Cruising up and down side streets in the eternal quest for parking space is no longer a tribulation of patrons of this modern banking institution, in Grand National Bank. Depositors are shown driving up to the special windows which now provide curb service along a private drive.
Included in the photo are Harry Hagen, Herman Beermann, Henry Beerman, Brian Frederickson, Tom Frederickson, and Joe Cook. Henry Beerman, who is the son of Herman Beermann, had the spelling of his last name changed. Photograph donated to the St. Louis Mercantile Library by the Gymnastic Association Sokol.
A tour to inspect the redevelopment program was part of the itinerary here yesterday of a Pittsburgh civic leader, Arthur B. Van Buskirk (left). He inspects area at Fourteenth and Carr streets with, from left, Saul Dubinsky, chairman of the City Plan Commission; James E. Crowe, city-counselor, and Ethan A. H. Sheplay of Civic Progress, Inc. The site is being considered for industrial redevelopment.
The Missouri Botanical Gardens - Known the world over as Shaw's Garden, this is one of the finest such units in the world, second only in size to the famous Kew Gardens in London. It is the gift to the city from Henry Shaw, who started it in 1859 and by his will provided for its perpetuation. Its greenhouses alone cover more than 2 acres and its collection of orchids is the finest in the world.
These rookies have been in the army less than a month but under the intensified training schedule at Jefferson Barracks they are rapidly being converted into soldiers. They are shown here marching in review on parade grounds. Lieut. R.C. Huggins, in charge of the training of recruits is shown marching with drawn sword in front of the troops while Major Walter C. Philips reviews them from the sidelines.
The light tanks of the Sixth Tank Company at Jefferson Barracks, under command of Capt. J. H. Gilbreth, departed last night for Arcadia, MO., where combat problems will be worked out by 41 officers of the 420th Infantry, Reserves, as the final part of their tank training at Jefferson Barracks this season.
The former quarter of the Franklin-American Company at 716-18 Locust Street, purchased by a new bank, as yet unnamed, headed by Byron Moser, who resigned last week as president of the Security National Bank Savings and Trust Company. The four-story building was aquired from the Franklin-American Trust Company with a leasehold assignment. The structure is apprasied at 1155,00 for assessment purposes. It is planned to remove the stone columns and bring the entire front of the structure out to the street level.
The old St. Louis National Bank Building, on the south west corner of Eighteenth and Olive streets, was bought at a receiver's auction sale yesterday for $25,000 by Conrad L. Schopp, real estate man and painter. Schopp said he plans to use the building for a real estate office, private art gallery and studio.
Netherby Hall Apartments, 4540 Lindell boulevard, aquired by the Missouri State Life Insurance Company in a trade in which the insurance company company conveyed five small properties to Samuel Ginstine, real estate speculator. The Nehterby Hall has eight apartments of nine rooms and three baths.
It is estimated that when all the apartments at Neighborhood Gardens are filled, as present indications are they will be, more than 1000 persons will be housed in the eleven units that comprise the three-story structures with ample basements. Rents range from $18 a month for the one-room apartments to $38.50 for the larger suites.