Creve Coeur History

It wasn’t too long ago when you could take the streetcar from University City to Creve Coeur Lake and think you were in deep country. Initially a farming community, Creve Coeur has developed into a thriving community in central St. Louis County with beautiful homes, acres of parkland, hundreds of businesses and a number of high-tech office parks.

Olive Street Road

It began with a road: Olive Street Road, now called Olive Boulevard. The road followed a centuries-old Indian trail that took the high ground from the Mississippi River to the Missouri River. Carts, wagons, carriages and stage-coaches took passengers and freights both west to new lands and east to the city of St. Louis.

Creve Coeur was one of many unincorporated communities that grew along the road. Its name, which means broken heart in French, comes from nearby Creve Coeur Lake. Legend has it that an Indian princess fell in love with a French fur trapper, but the love was not returned. According to the story, she then jumped from a ledge overlooking Creve Coeur Lake; the lake then formed itself into a broken heart.

Preserving History

Throughout the years of rapid development, Creve Coeur has continued its commitment to preserving history. Nearly two hundred years old, both the Hackmann and Clester cabins sit in Conway Park. These cabins, which face Highway 270, are a tribute to the past and have witnessed the evolution of Creve Coeur. The city also maintains Lake School House, a one-room schoolhouse, and the Tappmeyer farmhouse, both built in the late 1800s.

Creve Coeur's Incorporation

By 1950, St. Louis had reached its peak population with 856,000. St. Louis City was filling up, forcing returning soldiers to look for housing in St. Louis County to raise their families. Families wanted bigger houses, more yard space and places to park their new cars. The technological advancements in the automobile industry, along with the construction of Highways 270 and 40, further pushed the westward movement away from the central city.

When Creve Coeur was incorporated in December 1949, less than one square mile housed a population of 1,900 citizens. The city's charter was adopted in 1976. Today, the population of Creve Coeur is 18,702 spanning 10.27 square miles with approximately 7,800 housing units. Currently, Creve Coeur has 80 miles of public streets and 16 miles of private streets. Home to two private colleges, four private high schools, five private primary schools, two public school districts and approximately fifteen houses of worship, Creve Coeur is a place where everything a resident needs is no more than ten minutes away.

To learn more about the history of Creve Coeur, read "Heritage of the Creve Coeur Area" edited by Gloria Dalton (1976).