A Scary Sight

December 12, 2010

While searching for an interesting route home from the Union Seventy Business Park, I turned South onto Clara from Natural Bridge and ended up on at a dead end. Clara becomes one way at Hebert (a one way street), and when I tried to continue down it, I hit a problem.

Hebert, Blackstone and Ashland when most of the homes were still standing

The street did not actually end, it just became impossible to drive down.

Blackwell Ave Blocked off by Trash

In addition to the trash in the street, all of the manholes on the block were missing their covers.

Uncovered Manhole on Blackwell Ave

I haven’t been able to dig up any information on whatever is going on over here but I am guessing it has to do with the train tracks that lie just to the North-West.  Or it is simply about removing blight.  If the later is the case they haven’t done a great job yet.  This has to be something that happened pretty recently, but it has been in about the same condition since at least late summer.

Blackwell Street in October

This is not what we want our city to look like, but we have to remember that parts of it do look like this.



  1. I think it is an example of a street that has fallen so far that illegal dumping and the stealing of manhole covers became too easy for people to pass up. One must wonder why and how it got so bad that criminals knew they wouldn’t be caught if they did this here.

    • I have to agree. When I stumbled upon this location I pictured it as a criminal’s paradise, a place in the city that anything could go unnoticed. It seems like that may have actually been what happened, but I was hoping for another explanation to be honest.

  2. Do people still live here? Or has this particular block(s) been abandoned?

    • None of the homes on Hebert or Ashland West of Clara are inhabitable. Most are open to the elements with no evidence of even attempts to board up doors and windows

  3. This is the Harlem-Baden Retention area–an ARRA-funded flood control project that will take down all of the homes shown in the aerial.

    FYI, this area is called the Horseshoe by nearby residents.

    • Thank you for the information Matt! Good to know what the project is for because speculating can be dangerous. Still pretty sad though, I really like the apartment buildings still standing on Hebert.

  4. A little more about the horseshoe is warranted. You were in the heart of HSP turf — the HSP (Horseshoe Posse) were one of the two major gangs of the city in the early/mid 1990s. The HSP was associated early on with the Bloods, then dropped the association but kept the colors. Since the 1990s, HSP and the BOD have begun assisting one another in dealing, but retaliatory or drug-related killings still happen. (FYI: Boys of Destruction tend to wear blue or St. Louis Blues gear, while HSP tend to wear red or Indianapolis Colts gear.) In the last six years, four murders have happened on that loop alone. I would assume the garbage bags and lack of manhole covers are related to efforts to block the street for HSP or other drug-related activities. Be careful out there.

    • Wow. Pretty crazy. I knew there was a story here and really appreciate the information being shared.

      • Yes, please be careful up near that street; while it is wrong to say the entire northside is dangerous, I know a policeman who grew up on that street when the aforementioned gang operated on that street, and he warned me to not go up there. I love the northside and go up there often, but this block is different.

  5. People dont understand about the hood .. it was a close net family in sorts. the gang aspect is still there just a new breed of players.. i once grew up on thatt block & did all there was on it as well as the block in the 5500 block… things happen so fast. but reality sets in & u grow up… i still love the hood but moving on

  6. Check out the TV show Gangland–on episode 6 of season 4, they talk about this horseshoe shaped street.

    • I just saw it! Thanks for the tip! That really helps explain the area’s current state.

  7. I just drove by there on my way back to work and all of the houses are gone. I would be interested in talking with anyone who grew up there.

    • I grew up on the shoe and was part of the era from 88/06. I been part of it all from the jump..i love my set, ill always be hsp 4 life….

  8. […] had the opportunity to get a ride up to the infamous Horseshoe, a section of one way street that loops around a desolate corner of Wells-Goodfellow. I asked one […]

  9. Can ordinary people drive through this area during the day without risking their safety? We drove down through the area a while back but got too nervous to get off the 4lane. we were even nervous on that!

  10. i really wanted to c if people still remember our spot. wow , so long ago. gangland really dont know the truth . so sad to c people give history lessons on something they were so young to remember. d.j rebel , fella g , kool the m.c , kort(ney) sidner . yeah we came up with the name the horseshoe posse h.s.p , rap group turn hustlers / gang bangers , think it jumped off n 86 or 87 and lasted til 93 or 4 then thats when the kids who were able to get off the porch jumped in . man plenty of good and bad times, death , destruction, mayhem the crack game. i with many others loved that place. it was ours.

    • Shawn,
      Thanks for your message-by the time I saw the gangland episode and went to see the Horseshoe (June 2012) there were no houses left. I am very interested in the history of the area as well as hearing what Gangland got right and got wrong. Please let me know if you are interested in talking about it.

  11. These pictures should be scary: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2850383/ . To think that suburban auto parts stores, Chinese food, McDonalds, etc would be torched by a mob. Can any business get insurance to rebuild on the torched ground? It could happen again, like Devils Night arson in Detroit.

  12. I once lived & hung out on that block, it was not like that. I can say that i was part of the problem being apart of the demise of the SHOE. I’ll always be from 55 H.S.P, I LOVE MY SET….

  13. Sometimes, I just want to get The Horseshoe tatted on(not to be affiliated or such). But when my brother and I moved to our Dad’s house(5665 Hebert St.)back in ’87, I knew manhood was going to be on call. Believe or not, we could actually go to sleep with our doors opened at the time. Pops had a big influence on the block since he was a preacher and former militant. But living life with the other ghetto kids was fun while it lasted. Street football, corkball, b-ball in the alley, gymnastics on box spring mattresses, the hobo, sleigh riding at Barrett Bros. Park, Zipps, breakdancing, water balloon fights, firecracker wars, Skate King, and of course the Bar-B-Ques. Hell, my brother and I showed Fat Albert flicks in our backyard and had a Kool-Aid stand on the sidewalk. Let alone being the neighborhood barbers to the criminals and establishing a lawn are business as teens. Yes, That was hu”STL”e city. If I had a camera back then, I could’ve posted the very first graffiti tag of the Horseshoe Posse, which was on a red brick building on the corner of Clara Ave. & Hebert St.. Not name dropping, but I know the taggers. After the movie COLORS, shit went downhill from there. Across the street from me was a four family flat. And a big graffiti tag was written BLOODS. Not sure if it was safe to play corkball now… Every other night gunshots rain out. A couple of posse members let me play with their Uzi in a basement of their complex. The only weapons I never hear was a grenade or a bomb. Drug game and gang violence became more intense as the years went by. I almost threw up one time when some I saw a person’s insides blew out from a 12 gauge(thanks to a drive-by from some crips on Belt Ave). The scariest thing of all of this is when numerous lighting poles had thank you letters posted by the KKK. It stated “over 3000 blacks were killed nationwide in two years”. Even though most of my friends went out bad, I miss them so much. And I shed a tear when my Dad drove me through the block and saw nothing but grass since the house was gone. I’m going through it now because he passed away a month ago. But I understand everything has it’s season and time to pass. Had to take one last stroll through the hood before I buried him. Still I show Horseshoe pride since I made out of there(now residing in Atlanta 20yrs).

  14. Hello Chris,
    Thank you for the descriptive post; I am a big fan of St Louis history (we lived on Minnesota Street around the same time you were on Hebert) and this post/thread and the Gandland episode has captured my interest in the area and how much the Gangland episode got right as well as wrong. If you would be interested in telling me more about your experiences there I would be honored to listen and learn. Hope to hear from you. R/S, Justin

  15. It currently 3/27/16 I just drove by the horseshoe on Clara ave and was gunna drive along the horseshoe but its fenced up! Are they rebuilding or what?????

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