Thursday, November 15, 2012

St. Louis was important... in the early 1900's.

So, Saturday comes along and my wife has a hair appointment.  We drive around to the salon's new location and I find myself in a strangely familiar location: Carondelet.  What makes this area of St. Louis important for me, is thanks to, I was able to see the 1850 census form, which noted that my ancestors had a farm worth $1,600 and it was located in Carondelt.  That would have been before the city of Carondelet was as big as it was.  What did my family do with the farm?  Like the other farmers of the area, they likely sold it to form the city and produce more housing areas or the park. Was it a big parcel of farm land?  Perhaps.  I know that my family didn't do livestock, so it had to be pretty big.  Using some online resources citing the Consumer Price Index, a dollar from 1850 is worth about $28.30 in today's money.  So, was that a big deal?  Well, my ancestor's $1,600 worth of property from 1850 would have been worth $45,280 in today's money.  Since the area of land that this was in was south of the city, it likely was not worth as much.  I found records which suggest that in 1850, land was going for $1.25 an acre, or $35.38 per acre or today's money.  Again, there was nothing in this area, at this time.  So, how many acres does this mean that I could guess my family had?  I'd say about 1,280.  So, is that a food related topic?  Yeah and a cool one.

Now, in this area around 1901, a building was built.  This building, on the corner of Michigan and Davis Street, would become the only other Midwest location for Coca-Cola to use to manufacture their syrup for their soda, other than Chicago.  How cool is that?  We have a piece of world history right under our noses.  Coca-Cola used the plant up to 1988 when it sold it's share of the building and moved out.  Since the building is a historic landmark, it couldn't be razed and is now a set of apartments.  But the interesting thing is how this plant was here the whole time.  It would be as if people just found out that there was a huge beer making and bottling plant a block from their home, after living in St. Louis for 20 years!  I mean, there ARE people living in St. Louis who don't know that there is a huge brewery here. (weirdos)
Still, it is interesting knowing that this hidden gem has been here all along. I have to admit, the area around Davis and Michigan does not appear to be the best place, it is mostly an industrial area with the docks along the river on one side and factories and dumps around.  But, this, this very important building for Coca-Cola, was right here in a quiet and secret area of St. Louis.  But, one hundred years ago, you have a large factory here right next to the river and railroad, which meant that Coca Cola could get to any location in the U.S. right away.  Again, this was back when St. Louis was the center of railroad transportation.  While it may still be the center of barge traffic, I don't think much of anything goes out of St. Louis, via barge anymore.

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