What St. Louis looked like in the 1940s

Let’s take a trip back in time to the streets of St. Louis in the 1940s. This decade was packed with excitement, from the swinging tunes of big bands to the city’s unwavering spirit during World War II. During World War II, St. Louis showed patriotism as factories switched gears to support the war effort. Places like the St. Louis Small Arms Plant and the Curtis-Wright Corporation became hubs of activity, with workers dedicating themselves to producing munitions and aircraft. The war significantly impacted the local economy, with many people finding employment in the city’s factories and military bases. However, the war also brought shortages of certain goods and increased prices, which affected the daily lives of many St. Louis residents.

St. Louis kept its arts and culture scene alive even with the war. The Muny, an outdoor Forest Park theatre, entertained audiences with Broadway shows under the stars. Meanwhile, the Saint Louis Art Museum continued to inspire with its vast collection of masterpieces. Sports were prominent in the ’40s, and the St. Louis Cardinals became a force to be reckoned with in baseball. Players like Stan “The Man” Musial, Enos Slaughter, and Marty Marion captured the city’s heart with their passion for the game. Fans huddled around radios or met in bars to cheer on the Cards. The city was also home to several essential sports teams, including the St. Louis Browns baseball and the St. Louis Cardinals football teams. These teams drew large crowds to their games and helped foster a sense of community and pride in the city.

Here are some fascinating historical photos that will take you back to the 1940s.

#1 The Century Theater building at Ninth and Olive, opened in 1896.

#2 Entrance to Forest Park at Lindell and Kingshighway, 1943.

#3 Houses on Russell Blvd, near Virginia Avenue, 1940.

#4 Steel lithograph of Verandah Row on 4th street, 1949.

#5 Newly constructed dance floor at Jefferson Barracks, 1941.

#6 The Julia Building, former site of William Barr Dry Goods Company, 1949.

#7 The Ten Buildings on Fourth street, running from Locust to Vine, 1949.

#9 Remodeled Jefferson Barracks as stop-over site, 1941.

#10 The world’s first filling station, now used as a warehouse, 1943.

#11 The Missouri Crematory Association building at Arsenal and Sublette, built in 1887.

#12 Meeting of the Waters fountain in Aloe Plaza near Union Station, 1940

#13 Officer dwellings under construction at Jefferson Barracks, 1940.

#14 Airborne torpedo assembly line at American Can Company, 1943.

#15 Workmen constructing tent frames at Jefferson Barracks, 1941.

#16 First passenger train crossing MacArthur Bridge, 1940.

#18 Aerial view of Jefferson Barracks, to be taken over by Air Corps, 1941.

#19 Ella Right and her 20 dogs’ residence at 1407 North Market Street.

#20 Private Russell Morrison and young ladies at Jefferson Barracks’ open house, 1941.

#21 The Liederkranz, largest singing society in St. Louis, established in 1870.

#22 White Mill Drive-In, formerly a filling station, now an eating place, 1942.

#23 WPA workers building tent frames at Jefferson Barracks, 1941.

#24 New recruits doing the left-right during an open house at Jefferson Barracks, 1940.

#26 The Lincoln Trust Co. building at 712 Chestnut St., remodeled in 1949 to conform with the Title Guaranty Building.

#27 Regular army arrivals from Des Moines being checked in at Jefferson Barracks, 1940.

#28 Baseball game at Jefferson Barracks on April 2nd, 1942.

#29 Soldiers being entertained at Jefferson Barracks on April 16th, 1942.

#30 Army nurses reviewing a garrison parade at Jefferson Barracks, 1942.

#31 Miss Pickens singing to soldiers in front of the Station Hospital at Jefferson Barracks, date unknown.

#33 Fire destroying a 300-foot stretch of the Illinois Terminal Railroad trestle at the east approach to McKinley Bridge, 1949.

#34 Citizens’ Military Training Camp participants turning in their uniforms at Jefferson Barracks, 1940.

#35 Businesses on the southeast corner of Seventh and Olive Streets in 1859, where the Famous-Barr store is now located.

#36 Teller at Mercantile Commerce Bank and Trust Company showing a new employee how to sort canceled checks, 1943.

#37 Men carrying white board into a house at Jefferson Barracks, date unknown.

#38 Jefferson Barracks hosting a tactical demonstration of modern warfare, 1944.

#39 Marching band performing at Jefferson Barracks, April 1942.

#40 Veteran’s Hospital patients with earphones at their beds, 1949.

#42 Boatmen’s Bank – Third and Washington At Time of Spanish-American War, 1949

#47 St. Louis Riverfront From the Deck of the Golden Eagle, 1946

#48 Admiral under construction just north of Eads Bridge in St. Louis.

#51 Soldiers gather at Union Station before the booth maintained by the Military Reservation Bureau to handle ticket matters for all servicemen on official business, 1944

#52 Families and residents of St. Louis gather on the levee to send off soldiers departing for World War II around 1942.

#53 Passengers overlook the Mississippi River as they visit the top deck of the President steamboat.

#54 The Zorensky Brothers Store on Easton Avenue, 1940

#55 The Casoloma Ballroom, located at 3453 Iowa Street, covered in ice in January 1940 after a fire.

#56 Light Battery A’s camp ground with its banner hanging from a tree in Camp Stephens.

#57 The First Groups Of Enlisted Air Force Reservists, 1940

#59 Members of the first full unit to return from Europe, arrived last night at Jefferson Barracks, 1940

#60 Beer gardens got their real start when the great German immigration begain to flow into St.Louis in 1848. In a matter of a few short years, beer gardens were as much a part of St. Louis as the Mississippi.

#62 Jefferson Barracks – 1944 Memorial Service, 1940

#63 This building, originally erected as a barracks 162 years ago today, has been used for various purposes, including warehouse for muskets, cannon and medical supplies.

#65 The guard house, built in 1830, is still in use today. Soldiers at door are part of a training detachtment stationed at post.

#66 At the Civil War there was a great need of mounted troops for service agianst the Indians, particularly around 1876 at the time of the Custer massacre, and the Arsenal became a cavalry recruit depot.

#67 Anheuser-Busch Brewery – Scene for Documentary Film,

#69 Old Boatmen’s Bank Building – Fire and Collapse, 1949

#70 From Behind A Barricade And In The Shadow Of A Guard Tower March Soldiers Who Are Confined, 1944

#72 Blackhawks veterans sit on the grass as they wait for physical examinations as preliminaries to furloughs, 1945

#73 Members of the 365th Technical School Squadron And The Women’s Chamber Of Commerce Of St. Louis, 1940

#75 Wainwright Brewery Razing, 1945. Demolition of the Wainwright Brewery building on 10th and Gratiot street. The amount of smoke increases as the majority of the side building and the pillar collapse.

#76 Demolition of the Wainwright Brewery building on 10th and Gratiot street, 1940

#77 Jefferson Barracks – No Sightseers Beyond This Point, 1940

#78 Pulling up to the bank kiosk, located on the curb in front of the St. Louis Mercantile-Commerce Bank and Trust Co.,1948

#79 The Milles Fountain with statuary seen in the Plaza area in 1940.

#80 Christian Staehlin Phoenix Brewery, 1940. One of the largest of St. Louis’ 40 breweries, the Christian Staehlin Phoenix Brewery was located on Lafayette and Eighteenth (then second Carondelet avenue).

#89 A $750,000 Project,1940. At the left is a photograph of the building as it appears today, and at right is a sketch showing how it will appear after the work will appear after the work is completed.

#91 The City Hall,1949 during construction which was completed in 1895, was erected on a six-acre plot of ground the city had owned since 1840.

#100 Alex Ayton, St. Louis Country Club professional, instructs a class of boy beginners in the fundamentals of the swing, 1940

#101 Riverfront Old Pix Merchant’s Exchange Building, 1940

#102 An overflow crowd of 34,009 persons saw the American League All-Star game at Sportsmans Park, 1940

#106 The terminal levee tracks along the riverfront of St. Louis were under several feet yesterday, and the trains were being rerouted over the elevated tracks, 1940

#109 Fulton Iron Works Company, 1259 Delaware avenue, one of the largest heavy machine tool plants in this area, 1940

#110 The sale for 1,150,000 of the seven-story Franklin-American Trust Building at the southwest corner of Seventh and Locust streets, 1940

#111 German-American Bloc organization changed the building name to the St. Louis House, 1940

#115 French fur-traders of the eighteenth century built houses similar to this along the river front, 1940

#117 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony At The MacArthur Bridge, 1940

#124 The Rock-Hewn Winery of the American Wine Company, 3015 Cass avenue, a firm in which the controlling interest, 1944

#128 The Zorensky Brothers Store on Franklin Avenue, 1940

#129 Capitol being dismantled at Saint Louis, Missouri, 1940

#132 In 1946, the 16-story Federal Commerce Trust Building located at 208 North Broadway was taken over by the government to be converted into quarters for the regional office of the Veterans.

#133 The east side of Fourth street between Olive and Locust, showing the Everett House, Pingee & Brown, Prop., with the upper veranda and iron railing which formed a hotel’s trademark, 1949

#134 Fourth street looking north from Olive showing Everett House on right with porch, 1949

#135 Fourth an Locust, looking west on Locust. The Mermod, Jaccard & Co, 1949

#136 Fourth street, looking north from Market. Fourth street, 1949

#137 The “end of the line” of the old horse cars, showing a view of Fourth street south from Delmar, 1940

#139 Carrying the Colors of the Public High League To Public High League Champions, 1945

#141 Broadway looking south from Chestnut. Showing court house, Bryant and Stratton Business College and Southern Hotel on left side of plate, 1949

#152 Veterans of the Spanish-American War & World War I, 1940s

#154 Five Cardinals Players Reaching for Gloves, 1940

#161 Federal Reserve Bank Vault at 4th and Locust, 1940

#166 Women posing for a picture near Aloe Plaza. The St. Louis Dairy building can be seen in the background, 1940

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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