In his book Beer, Brats and Baseball (Second Edition) author Jim Merkel writes about “The Streets with Two Names” in St. Louis, sharing how Frank Knapstein, a German immigrant had his own name on a block long street just south of Meramec in 1916. He was a contractor and he was building brick homes along the street. Then, World War I came, and suddenly everything German was bad, including street names. To be less offensive, Knapstein Place became Providence Place. Nativism and anti-German hysteria had taken hold on everything

Merkel mounted a campaign to retake these symbols of our city’s pride in our German heritage. The German American Heritage Society of St. Louis helped by enthusiastically supporting the project and even paying for the honorary signs.  Pershing is now also honorarily known by its original name of Berlin. On November 15, 2014 George Knapstein’s grandson Frank (and about 35 other members of his family) watched as Providence Place once again became Knapstein Place.

On Sunday, January 17, 2016 the public is invited to join Jim Merkel, members of German American Heritage Society of St. Louis, and other officials as they unveil two new street signs. The former Habsburger Avenue will be unveiled at 2pm with a brief ceremony at the corner of Cecil Place and Gravois Avenue; and Kaiser Street will once again take its place among St. Louis street names with a sign at the corner of Gresham (current name) and Kingshighway at 2:30 pm.

 

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