by Jennifer Adele
Even though it is a historic district with a lot of greenery to offer, Clifton Heights is often one of the most overlooked treasures in the St. Louis Metro area. It is an area of diversity, of antiquity, of new beginnings, and regal restorations. It is home to parks, playgrounds and community gardens. It is one of the absolute best areas for contrast and variety… a writer’s adventurous paradise.
Ahh… Clifton Heights! The history is long and rich and teaming with details. This article will only touch on the basics. However, for those seeking more in depth information, the neighborhood itself actually has an amazingly thorough website (http://stlouis-mo.gov/cliftonheights) which chronicles both historic and current events. The subdivision of this particular part of the city, known as Clifton Heights, began in 1880 for residential purposes and continued clear through 1955, when the large subdivision was platted north of Southwest Avenue and west of Tamm. This long process of slow development and sprawling subdivision is very apparent in the mix of housing and recreational spaces that you find within it.
From spiraling trees to sprawling landscapes, from flamboyant fountains to dipping valleys and hidden coves, Clifton Heights has it all. Many of the trees found in this region, lining the streets and walkways, are ancient and seem to reach up and tickle the heavens. The little hidden coves and darting wildlife are enough to stir the primordial in any writer, painter, or poet…nature being the eternal muse. However, the architecture and the sense of city living do encroach, but they summon mystery and incredible wonder. Old, proud houses, each with a different style and a story to tell, call for authors to paint their potential stories with words on the page. What could have happened within those walls, behind closed doors?… In Clifton Heights, the possibilities for fictitious stories are as endless as the variety of homes and people.
Be sure to visit Clifton Park if you are in the neighborhood. This triangular shaped valley of a destination is bordered by Clifton, Simpson, and Southwest Avenues. It is at this pristine location that you will see any number of ducks and geese year round. Stop by the reclining valley that is home to sheltering pines, maples, and oaks. Sit in the shade and let the magic and mystery of Mother Nature inspire you. Peer out gently from beneath the boughs to majestic homes and find enthrallment and perhaps your next novel’s main concept there. Open yourself up to new avenues of creativity, unique self-expression, and a lush beauty that only variety and acceptance can conjure.
On Elizabeth Avenue, not far from the park rests a small but incredibly old church building with small garden area nestled into a wedge. It is this spot, also surrounded by Victorian-style homes, that I enjoy the most. There is something eerily beautiful about the antiquity of the brick and stone walls, the arching doorway, and the stained glass windows. The hand-plowed gardens are also a touching sight to behold and are teaming with such heady floral arrangements that it is easy to imagine little fairy beings and even gnomes hiding underneath the foliage.
No matter what I’m seeking, be it the spark of an idea for a short story, the long and drawn out energetic patterns more inherent of a novel, or the visual stimuli that is conducive to creating my own cover art for indie works, Clifton Heights always has it!