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St. Louis Regional history comes alive in this joint production by KDHX and the Missouri Historical Society. Stories of our past are connected with the present in these well researched and entertaining short presentations about the people, places, and events that have shaped who we are and who we are becoming. 

Aug 21, 2023

In the St. Louis region, the name Soulard is instantly recognized as a neighborhood where, among other things, Mardi Gras is held. Names of neighborhoods usually come from somewhere, though In this case, the neighborhood is named after a person who was a great surveyor and map maker, who helped organize the city, and his wife who donated the land where the namesake, famous, market still thrives to this day. Just press play to hear the whole story. ———

Click on search links to see if there are episodes with related content: Andrew Wanko, Business, Landmarks, Women's History, People of Note, ———

Podcast Transcript: I’m Andrew Wanko, Public Historian of the Missouri Historical Society, and here’s history, on 88.1 KDHX. ———

With its mix of customs, cultures, and even languages, the bustling town of Colonial St. Louis had trouble keeping its property records straight for its first few decades of existence. The person who finally sorted things out is a name any St. Louisan of today will instantly recognize. ———

In 1795, French native Antoine Soulard became the first official surveyor general of Upper Louisiana. The territory stretched from present-day Arkansas to Montana, and in his first year on the job, Soulard would map its 800,000 square miles more accurately than anyone had before. His map was so good, American explorers Lewis & Clark would take along with them on their journey to the Pacific nearly a decade later. But in addition to mapping these vast spaces, Antoine Soulard equally put his talents into mapping the edges and boundaries of the town of St. Louis. ———

After thirty years of real estate deals based on handshakes and verbal agreements, property owners in colonial St. Louis often had misunderstandings about where their land ended and their neighbor’s began. Using prominent landmarks and geographic features to set official property boundaries, Antoine Soulard mapped out St. Louis’s world through more than 710 land surveys he completed before retiring in 1806. As St. Louis grew outwards, many of the edge lines that Soulard laid out guided the placement of the streets we drive along today.  ———

While St. Louis has changed drastically from the small town that Antoine Soulard knew, the neighborhood, street, and market named Soulard all connect us to him and his wife Julia across two centuries of history. When the two married, they were given a large tract of undeveloped land just south of St. Louis as a wedding present. Antoine Soulard died in 1825, but Julia continued living on the land for another 20 years. In the 1830s she began selling off portions of the Soulard estate to be subdivided into new city blocks. In 1842, she gifted St. Louis a large piece of her land for use as the public market that still bears her name today. ———

Here’s history is a joint production of the Missouri History Museum and KDHX.  I’m Andrew Wanko and this is 88.1 KDHX St. Louis. ———