Immigrant Women in the Settlement of Missouri

By Robyn Burnett; Ken Luebbering | Go to book overview

Chapter 14
Immigrant Neighborhoods in St. Louis

Missouri's cities did not develop large, homogenous ethnic neighborhoods like the ones in New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. Instead, many small ethnic neighborhoods of various nationalities developed in close proximity to one another. The huge numbers of Germans in St. Louis, for instance, were spread over a large part of the city in this way. One result of this pattern is that most of these small neighborhoods, from St. Louis’s Irish “Kerry Patch” to St. Joseph's Polish “Goosetown” have disappeared.

One of the most endearing images of immigrant life may be that of the tightly knit ethnic neighborhood, with its “national” church, architectural heritage, holiday celebrations, ethnic restaurants and shops, and “Old World” traditions. This charming picture has some truth to it, but it tells only a part of the story. Often these neighborhoods were produced as much by ethnic tensions as by ethnic unity. Today people tend to think of all immigrants from a country, Germany or Italy, for example, as being alike. In fact, when those immigrants came to Missouri in the nineteenth century, many of them did not think of themselves in that way. Many “Germans” considered themselves Westphalians or Bavarians or Rhinelanders. They were separated by religious and geographical differences. German Lutherans typically did not mix well with German Catho-

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