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Located a few miles north of where the Missouri and Mississippi rivers converge, Alton plays a prominent role in the St. Louis area for several reasons. Residents love the refined architecture of the homes and buildings that the founding fathers constructed during the early 1830s. Just a few miles north of the central business district, large limestone bluffs hover over the Mississippi River. Early Native American settlers carved several brilliant renderings of both real and mystical objects, such as the renowned Piasa Bird that helped create a landmark trail of the same name. The Great Rivers National Scenic Byway attracts visitors from all over the region, especially during fall when the oak and elm trees radiate their multicolored brilliance.
Alton sits 25 miles due north of downtown St. Louis, but the city is not easily accessible by Interstate. The iconic Clark Bridge connects the Alton Riverfront with a road that goes more than five miles before it finds one of the area's interstate highways. Alton's lack of direct access adds to the city's small-town charm within a large metropolitan district.
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As of November 2017, the average apartment rent in Alton, IL is $519 for a studio, $578 for one bedroom, $661 for two bedrooms, and $784 for three bedrooms. Apartment rent in Alton has increased by 0.8% in the past year.
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Living in Alton
You haven't experienced Alton until you spend some time at Fast Eddie's Bon Air. The wildly popular restaurant attracts destination diners from St. Louis neighborhoods located more than 40 miles away. As a fixture on the Alton riverfront, Fast Eddie's provides diners with an affordable way to enjoy fresh shrimp cocktails and house signature sandwiches. Known for the "Coldest Beer in Town," Fast Eddie's sets the culinary standard for the central restaurant district found on the Alton Riverfront. Alton residents who prefer a more relaxed and upscale dining experience book reservations weeks in advance for Tony's Restaurant. The highly acclaimed "old-school" Italian steakhouse serves classic fare, such as peppercorn pork tenderloin, fettuccine Alfredo and homemade cheesecake. Walk down the streets that form the entertainment district, and you can expect to feel the raw energy pour out of live-music and dance-club venues. The Ragin Cajun Piano Bar attracts locals who need to let off a little steam. Boisterous and at times very humorous, the piano bar typifies the New Orleans style of nightlife that pervades the riverfront. You can enjoy multiple entertainment options on board the Argosy. Also referred to as the Alton Belle, the casino not only attracts highly skilled card players, it also attracts residents and tourists who enjoy live entertainment. After rolling the dice or doubling down, spend some time in the Argosy Music Hall for live concerts and theater productions. The casino also features restaurants that include the Outfitters Grill, Captain's Table Buffet and La Cantina Deli.
Although the two longest rivers in America attracted settlers to develop Alton, the Civil War was the impetus that spurred the town's growth. The tall limestone cliffs provided lookouts with clear panoramic views of approaching enemy combatants marching towards St. Louis. Prior to, and during, the Civil War, Alton also served as a major station of the underground railroad. Several Alton homes sit above underground tunnels, some of which residents claim possess haunted spirits. The paranormal reputation of Alton has grown over the years, as advanced technology and growing interest in the phenomenon have attracted researchers to take up roots in the river town. A square in the downtown district commemorates the landmark debate between Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln.
Despite the addition of modern structures such as the Argosy Casino, Alton has maintained a small-town ambiance that preserves the city's historical significance. The Jacoby Arts Center provides Alton's cultural backbone.
Many people move to Alton to get away from the chaos of urban life. Alton sits more than five miles from a major transportation artery, and roads in and out of the river town mostly run with only two lanes. The road structure in and around Alton encourages sightseeing more than it encourages quick access to commercial hot spots. Alton residents live more than 20 miles from the nearest light rail station. Area residents use the Madison County Transit system to get around on the Illinois side of the St. Louis region and to connect with Metro St. Louis bus lines that move through St. Clair County. To avoid traffic congestion, many Alton residents hop on the Amtrak train that travels to the central terminal located in downtown St. Louis.
Residents of Alton enjoy sidewalks on virtually every street, which eliminates trying to navigate the city on uncomfortable brick and cobblestone paved roads. Alton city planners encourage both residents and visitors to park in one of the free public parking areas, and then walk around the historic town to patronize boutique shops and specialty stores. Public parking includes areas such as Market Street, from Second to Sixth Street. Bike paths run on the top of neighborhood hills to avoid adding more traffic in the central business district. Comfort Cab Company provides the primary cab service in Alton, and most of the company cabs wait for fares at the Argosy Casino. Uber St. Louis has no impact on Alton transportation.
The cost of living index for Alton residents falls well below the national average of 100. In fact, Alton residents enjoy a cost of living index of 88.1, which sits lower than the cost of living in St. Louis. Renters of one-bedroom apartments pay $694 on average. Renters have difficulty finding one-bedroom apartments within St. Louis that cost under $800 per month.
Affordability extends beyond the fabled homes that line hilly Alton streets. Residents pay 8 percent less for a gallon of unleaded gas than what the market bears on average nationwide. The close proximity to fertile farmland reduces much of the transportation costs of delivering fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as transporting meat and poultry to Alton grocery stores. Bars along the riverfront could gouge visitors with exorbitant tap beer prices, but bar owners keep draft beer prices affordable to attract residents who enjoy paying between $2.50 and $3.00 for a pint of domestic beer.
This town does not cater to residents who want to shop at big-box retailers. Instead, Alton residents meander through the cobblestone streets near the riverfront and stop in boutique and specialty stores that offer clothing, jewelry and vintage tapestries. Lillian by Design takes women's fashion to the next level by creating customized outfits for women who want to enjoy a night on the town in style. Teena's Day Spa and Boutique allows you to transform your body and mind, as well as purchase some of the products that enhance your mood. You need to book times at Teena's well in advance of your visit, but you can purchase the products sold by the boutique anytime.
Located on Alby Street, Schwegel's Market receives fresh produce daily from area farmers. The farmers-market-themed grocery store displays a wide variety of fresh beef cuts, including chuck roast, tenderloin and sirloin. Price-conscious shoppers enjoy discounted food prices at Shop & Save. From early June to late October, the Alton Farmer & Artisans Market sets up on Main Street. Two vendor rows fill up every summer with booths that bring the freshest products to the tables of Alton residents. The market has capacity for 350 vehicles in its expansive parking lot.
The Missouri and Mississippi rivers heavily influence the designs and locations of Alton parks. Water sports play an integral role in each of the parks that also include exercise areas for fitness buffs. The Alton Parks and Recreation Department operates 16 city parks that cover nearly 1,400 acres of space. In addition to water recreational activities, residents enjoy organized softball and soccer leagues.
The Gordon Moore Park features a 13-acre fishing lake and the Nan Elliot Memorial Rose Garden that hosts summer concerts. Alton holds its popular Fourth of July fireworks show called "Fireworks over the Mississippi" every year at one of the city parks that sits near the Alton waterfront. The three-acre dog park inside of Russell Commons Park gives Fido ample room to romp around with his canine friends. Alton Parks and Recreation operates the parks on a fee-structured system that regulates sports leagues, fishing and special events.
Apartments for Rent Under $1,000 in Alton, IL
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