Thursday, July 31, 2008

Old St. Louis Rising

When redevelopment efforts take you into older parts of the city, we connect with the people who first lived in our neighborhoods.

A hundred twenty years ago, most of the city did not have sewer lines. Instead, many of the homes had a "privy" in the back yard. As property owners upgraded their properties with indoor plumbing and sewer connections, the old privies were abandoned. The sites of those old privies now are a treasure trove for searchers of St. Louis history.

Entering long vacant buildings or doing excavation work in the older parts of town can turn up many interesting lost items from the past. Old bottles, machine parts, photographs, maps and pottery shards are often found.

Holding a small bottle of "Dr. Pritchard's Medical Elixir" in your hands, uncovered through the redevelopment of an old city site, brings us back to 19th century St. Louis. It makes you wonder what life was like for families back in those days, before homes had indoor running water and city streets were dirt roads travelled by horse drawn carriages.


UrbanReviewSTL said...

I still have a couple of boxes of old bottles from the Pruitt-Igoe site, collected in the early 1990s. Back then the site was not as overgrown as it is today. Amazing that some bottles survived the destruction of the original neighborhood and the building and razing of new high projects.

Anonymous said...

City Museum has an interesting "privy collection" in a small gallery on the third floor.