Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Few Thoughts On The Location Of Gamble Lawn

Tobias writes that Gamble Lawn "was situated just south of Gamble avenue and West Twentieth street. It was a large vacant piece of property admirably suited for the purpose, the north side alone being in proximity to any buildings whatever, and the eastern end was blessed with a spring of clear cold water." The problem here is that, as I wrote yesterday, there is no Gamble avenue nor is there a West Twentieth street in St. Louis. This makes identifying the location of Gamble Lawn difficult.

Twentieth Street in St. Louis runs north to south from East College Street just north of the Fairground down to Clark Avenue by Union Station. Also, there is a Gamble Street which runs for several blocks between Martin Luther King Drive and Jefferson Avenue. I speculated yesterday that Gamble may have, at some point, intersected with Twentieth. On the east side of Jefferson is Desoto Park, which is bordered by Twentieth on its eastern side, and if Gamble was extended to Twentieth, Desoto Park would be bisected and a large section would have been just south of Gamble and Twentieth.

The problem is that after looking at Pitzman's 1868 Map of St. Louis, it's clear that Gamble never intersected Twentieth. The layout of the Gamble Street neighborhood is almost exactly the same in 1868 as it is now. I really have no idea what Tobias means by "Gamble avenue and West Twentieth street." It's a set of directions that makes no sense.

The Missouri Republican, on September 10, 1858, makes reference to a cricket match at the "regular playing ground on Gamble's addition and Twenty-second street..." Now Twenty-second Street just happens to be the western boarder of Desoto Park and the reference to Gamble's addition is interesting. Gamble Street was named after Archibald Gamble, a prominent St. Louis attorney and businessman, and according to the St. Louis Steet Index it was part of the Stoddard Addition of 1851. I assume that the Stoddard Addition is the little subdivision west of Jefferson Ave.

I think it's safe to assume that we're in the right ballpark here (no pun intended). The grounds referred to as Gamble Lawn or Gamble's Lawn were most likely located just east of the Stoddard Addition, near the eastern terminus of Gamble Street and between Twentieth and Twenty-Second Street. Interestingly, this happens to have been the location of the Pruitt-Igoe housing projects (pictured above) and Desoto Park was built as part of that development rather than being a remnant of the Gamble Lawn grounds.

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