The Hill

The Hill is historically an Italian community located in the the South central part of St. Louis. The neighborhood rests between Kingshighway and Hampton and boasts a number of wonderful restaurants, shops, and other landmarks.
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Adam Kruse

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History of the Hill Neighborhood in St. Louis

Early Culture Developments: During the twenties, the area was known as the Dago Hill, when it made appearances in songs like “Dago Hill Blues” by Luela Miller, while other famous Blues artists including Charlie Patton, Blind Boy Fuller, Georgia Tom, and Tampa Red all referenced the area in their artwork. By that time, the Hill had become a thriving mixed ethnicity area, but was still primarily Italian.

The area developed quietly, primarily interested in sports, religion, and food, leading to a rising development in both baseball players and restaurants, many of which are still open today. Local stars include Yogi Berra, Joe Garagiola, Sr., and multiple soccer players in the forties and fifties. Yogi even mentioned the area, saying that it was so busy, no one ever went there. The business was primarily thanks to the areas popularity for its shops, restaurants and local theaters, which were frequented by family as well as area youths.

Restaurants on The Hill

Today: Today, The Hill is a populous shopping area covering 2,500 square miles of space, with a population around 2,400. The area spans from Manchester Avenue to Columbia Avenue and Southwest Avenue to South Kingsway Boulevard to Hampton Avenue. With local restaurants, art galleries, bakeries and shops to visit, the area provides a full day trip for anyone visiting the area. The area remains mostly Italian, with a smattering of other cultures, who mostly adapt rather than changing the Italian style and culture that permeates the neighborhood.

Two local bocce gardens offer regular festivals, events and things to do, as well as regular games of bocce, making for unique outing options for both locals and tourists. The game is an Italian classic, and a must-try for tourists looking to experience the local Italian culture. The still-standing St. Ambrose church is also a must-visit, the Roman Catholic church being a landmark of both Italian architecture and one of the oldest churches in the area, making it a draw for lovers of culture, history and architecture alike.

Cuisine: The Hill Neighborhood developed its own form of cuisine, and is famous as the birthplace of toasted ravioli, a local spin on the famous Italian dish of stuffed pasta. While sweet ravioli is traced back to Sicily, the modern version of the dish is traced back to The Hill, where it appeared in restaurants as an appetizer and snack. While usually credited to a local restaurant known as Oldani’s, which is now the Mama’s restaurant, there is no proof or verification of the origin of the popular local snack. Fried ravioli are now available in almost every local restaurant, making them an easy delicacy to try.

The Hill Neighborhood is a great place to visit for history, food, shopping, or a little of all three. Planning a trip to the area can mean going on foot to visit the shopping, planning a public transport trip, or bringing a car, but parking space is limited. You can also get a guided tour for a full look at the area from a local point of view, which you can book via the town hall website.

With a variety of things to do and a rich historical and cultural background, the Hill neighborhood in St. Louis is a tempting visit for tourists.