Chouteau’s Pond

On the 248th anniversary
of the founding
of St. Louis, Missouri
14 February 1764

Nothing remains from before
the DeHodiamont House
and Bissell Mansion,
both built by 1830,
except for the divide
between north and south.

In early years
a creek ran east to west.
Pierre Laclede,
St. Louis’ founder,
created a pond or lake,
depending on one’s definition
of such things, at a wide,
low spot in its path.
Chouteau, fellow founder,
bought the pond
and, apparently,
naming rights.

The pond split the city
for almost a century
and even after it was gone
the line remained
in the mind.

A swath of railroad tracks,
an old switching yard,
sits just south
of where the pond
once lay, recreating
the divide.

The line meant different things
at different times.
For too many years,
it’s meant race.


This is a small essay, but I am compelled to break sentences into lines.
Chouteau’s Pond in 1851.
Housing in St. Louis, by Race: Red is white, Blue is black.

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