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History

Located in the suburban heart of the St. Louis metropolitan area, Downtown Kirkwood has been a desirable regional destination ever since trains began boarding passengers there in 1853. Kirkwood was the first planned residential commuter suburb established west of the Mississippi. Kirkwood was the first community in St. Louis County to have a four-year public high school and tax-supported library. It also has the County’s oldest police department.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, today Downtown Kirkwood retains the charm and character of the past interwoven with abundant shopping, dining, and entertainment in an inviting pedestrian-friendly atmosphere. The first thing you notice about Downtown Kirkwood is the historic train station. Built in 1893 and owned and operated by the City of Kirkwood, this iconic edifice serves more than 40,00 Amtrak passengers each year. The Kirkwood Train Station is the third busiest in the state of Missouri, behind only St. Louis and Kansas City. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 and is considered a signature example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The City of Kirkwood purchased the building from Union Pacific Railroad in 2003. Today it is operated by a dynamic team of volunteers dedicated to preserving the rich tradition of rail transportation in this suburban community. It serves as a unique venue for myriad community and arts events. It is a model used nationwide as an example of a community pulling together to save a treasured landmark.

Historic Route 66 passing through the heart of Kirkwood also played a pivotal role in its development and history.

For more information about the history of the Kirkwood – Des Peres area, please visit kirkwoodhistoricalsociety.com.

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