"The Hill" is one of St. Louis' most famous neighborhoods, partially because several of its Italian restaurants have achieved national fame, but more so because it remains one of the city's most intact ethnic neighborhoods. By some accounts, up to 75 percent of its residents claim to be Italian. After spending just a few minutes on the Hill, you'll wonder if the number isn't closer to 100 percent.
The Hill is located south of Manchester Avenue, between Hampton Avenue on the west and Kingshighway Avenue on the east. It's named for its proximity to the city's highest point, located at the intersection of Sublette and Arsenal.
Although settlement of the area began as early as the 1830's, Italian immigrants didn't began arriving in large numbers until the end of the nineteenth century, primarily to be close the region's rich clay mines. Houses in the neighborhood reflect its immigrant history, with modest bungalows and shotgun shacks filling most streets. But don't judge the houses based on square footage; residents are known for taking great pride in their homes and yards, so touring the residential streets can be very enjoyable.
Make it a Culinary Tour
A walking tour of the Hill will give you a good sense of its history and the way of life of its residents. But if you love food, you're in for a real treat; a walking tour of the Hill can't help but turn into a culinary adventure. In addition to the dozens of great restaurants within its boundaries, the Hill also has wonderful grocers, bakeries and other food shops. Because you won't want to pass on picking up many of the area's specialties that require refrigeration, bring a cooler and stash it in your car.
Speaking of your car, park at the intersection of Shaw Boulevard and Hereford Street, just west of Kingshighway Avenue.
First stop: Viviano's Grocery. Viviano’s is located at 5139 Shaw Avenue.