March 17 is the one day a year when everyone can claim to be Irish. And for the truly Irish, there is only one place to be – Dogtown for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Me? I’m lucky enough to be both Irish AND live in Dogtown! Every year my wife and I host a blow-out party for the parade. Golf carts are rented to whisk guests up the steep hills to the parade and we even bring in a Johnny-on-the-spot lest the lines for comfort get too long. This was the first year we had to worry about the weather, but it would take more than a snowy forecast to keep our friends and family away. A large party tent and a couple of fire pits and there was no stopping us!
The parade is organized by the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) and runs down Tamm from Clayton Road to Manchester through the heart of Dogtown. Founded in 1836, the AOH is the oldest American Irish fraternal organization in the US. The St. Louis chapter’s Dogtown history is not quite as old. Originally, the AOH participated in the City sponsored St. Pat’s parade downtown. After a dispute in 1983, they moved to organize their own parade. First held in Clayton, then in Hazelwood, it was moved to Dogtown in 1986 and has never left. Always on March 17th (rather the nearest Saturday) the parade honors Irish Patriotism, Irish Catholicism, and Irish Clans & Families.
Many St. Louisans are unaware that Dogtown is not actually an official neighborhood; rather it’s a name that refers to an area made from the combination of three neighborhoods: Clayton-Tamm, Franz Park, and Hi-Pointe. Bordered by Oakland and Manchester on the North and South, and Hampton and McCausland on the East and West, it is centrally located adjacent to Forest Park. But what about living here… and where did the name Dogtown come from?
There are two theories on the origin of the name Dogtown. The colorful Igorot theory stems from when the 1904 World’s Fair housed a group of Indonesian natives on the grounds of Forest Park. The Igorots were dog eaters but city officials forbade the practice. Folklore has it that the Igorots would raid nearby neighborhoods to steal dogs for dinner. The less colorful, and more likely to be historically accurate, is the watchdog theory. In 1879, the city acquired the land for Forest Park and evicted the squatting coal miners. They relocated just to the South. The name Dogtown is said to come from the watchdogs they purchased to protect the women and children left alone while they continued to work the mines.
The area is primarily residential with some great businesses located near Tamm and Clayton Roads. One of my favorite local hangouts is Seamus McDaniels to grab a pint of Guinness or some of the best Friday night fish around. Other businesses include Felix’s Pub, Sugaree Baking Company, and Latitude 26 Tex-Mex.
The City of St. Louis 2010 census reports that the combined population of the three neighborhoods is 6,889 in some 4,062 housing units. This is a decrease of 8.76% from the 2000 census of 7,551. Despite those numbers however, the area has demonstrated remarkable stability over the years with no anticipated change in the future.
Unlike some of the very distinct neighborhoods in St. Louis, Dogtown supports varied housing styles in both multi- to single family homes. It is common to find frame, brick and stone homes on the same street. Here’s a sample of listings from 7/11/16. Contact me to find out more about what’s currently available.
One of the best things about living in Dogtown is it’s proximity to Forest Park. Dogtown residents can walk or ride bikes to the park within minutes. There is so much to see and do in Forest Park that I find myself going there year-round. Here are a few of my favorite activities: Jammin’ at the Zoo, the new Sea Lion show, Zootini, The Muny for a musical, Bike ride around the park, a drink in the sun at the Boathouse, outdoor concerts at the Missouri History Museum, outdoor movies in front to the Art Musuem on Art Hill, 18 holes of golf, Balloon Glow, ….the list is endless. Do yourself a favor and plan a visit to Forest Park today!
My Forest Park photo gallery –