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Encyclopedia > St. Louis
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The Gateway Arch, shown here behind the Old Courthouse, is the most recognizable part of the St. Louis skyline.
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Apotheosis of Saint Louis, a bronze statue of the city's namesake on horseback, was widely used as a symbol of the city before construction of the Arch.

For other uses of Saint Louis, see Saint Louis.


Saint Louis encompasses an independent city in the American state of Missouri (the "City of Saint Louis") and its metropolitan area ("Greater Saint Louis"). The city, which is named after Louis IX of France, borders, but is not a part of, Saint Louis County, Missouri. The Saint Louis metropolitan area, which includes counties in both Missouri and Illinois, is the 18th largest in the United States, with a total population of 2,603,607 as of the 2000 census. While the population of the metropolitan area has been increasing, the population of the City of Saint Louis (348,189) has been declining since the 1950s, as many have moved to the many suburbs in Saint Louis County, or to other parts of the metropolitan area.


Nickname: the "Gateway City" ("Gateway to the West")
Former Nickname: "Mound City"

Contents

History

Pierre Laclede and his stepson, Auguste Chouteau, founded Saint Louis as a trading post in 1763. The city proper was established on February 15, 1764. St. Louis was in Louisiana Territory, which had belonged to France but, after the settlement of the French and Indian War in 1763, was controlled by Spain. Louisiana Territory was returned to France in the secret Treaty of San Ildefonso in 1800. Saint Louis was acquired from France by the United States under President Thomas Jefferson in 1803, as part of the Louisiana Purchase.


French explorers Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette had begun exploring the Mississippi River Valley in 1673. In 1682, La Salle claimed the entire valley for France, calling it "Louisiana" for King Louis XIV. The region explored and settled by the French was also known as "Illinois Country".


A settlement was established across the river from what is now Saint Louis, at Cahokia in 1699. There were settlements farther down river at Kaskaskia, Illinois, Prairie du Pont, Fort de Chartres, and Sainte Genevieve.


Catholic priests established a small mission at what is now St. Louis, in 1703. The mission was later moved across the Mississippi, but the small river at the site (now a channelized drainage ditch near the southern boundary of the City of Saint Louis) still bears the name River Des Peres (River of the Fathers).


Pierre Laclede, 13-year old Auguste Chouteau, and a small band of men left New Orleans in 1763 and traveled north along the Mississippi River. In November, they landed a few miles downstream of the confluence with the Missouri River at a site where wooded limestone bluffs rose 40 feet above the river. The men returned to Fort de Chartres for the winter. In February 1764, Laclede sent Chouteau and thirty men to begin construction.


When it was learned that the Treaty of Paris (1763) had given England rights to all land east of the Mississippi, Frenchmen who had settled east of the river moved to the new settlement west of the river. "Laclede's Village", as it was called, grew quickly.


Other settlements were established at Saint Charles, Carondelet (now a part of the city of Saint Louis), Saint Ferdinand (now Florissant), and Portage des Sioux.


From 1766 to 1768, St. Louis was governed by the French lieutenant governor, Louis Saint Ange de Bellerive. After 1768, St. Louis was governed by a series of Spanish governors. They continued to administer the city even after Louisiana was secretly returned to France in 1800, by which time the population of St. Louis had grown to about a thousand.


The transfer of power from Spain (because of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803) was made official in a ceremony called "Three Flags Day". This began on March 8, 1804, with the lowering of the Spanish flag and the raising of the French flag. The French flag was flown for one day only and was replaced on March 10, 1804, with the United States flag.


The Lewis and Clark Expedition left the Saint Louis area in May 1804, reached the Pacific Ocean the summer of 1805, and returned to Saint Louis on Sept. 23, 1806. Many other explorers, settlers, and trappers (such as Ashley's Hundred) would later take a similar route to the West.


The steamboat era began in Saint Louis on July 27, 1817, with the arrival of the "Zebulon M. Pike." Rapids north of the city made Saint Louis the northernmost navigable port for many large boats, and Pike and her sisters soon transformed St. Louis into a bustling boomtown, commercial center, and inland port. By the 1850s, Saint Louis had become the largest U.S. city west of Pittsburgh, and the second largest port in the country, with a commercial tonnage exceeded only by New York.


Missouri became a state in 1820. Saint Louis was incorporated as a city on December 9, 1822. A U.S. Arsenal was constructed at Saint Louis in 1827.


Immigrants flooded into Saint Louis after 1840, particularly from Germany and Ireland, driven by an Old World potato famine. The population of Saint Louis grew from fewer than 20,000 in 1840, to 77,860 in 1850, to just over 160,000 by 1860.


Two disasters occurred in 1849: a cholera epidemic killed nearly a tenth of the population, and a fire destroyed numerous steamboats and a large portion of the city.


In the first half of the 19th century, a second channel developed in the Mississippi River at Saint Louis. An island ("Bloody Island") formed between the two channels, and a smaller island ("Duncan's Island") developed below Saint Louis. It was feared that the levee at St. Louis might be left high and dry, and federal assistance was sought and obtained. Under the supervision of Robert E. Lee, levees were constructed on the Illinois side to direct water toward the Missouri side and eliminate the second channel. Bloody Island was joined to the land on the Illinois side, and Duncan's Island was washed away.


Militarily, the Civil War (1861-1865) barely touched St. Louis; the area saw only a few skirmishes in which Union forces prevailed. But the war shut down trade with the South, devastating the city's economy. Missouri was nominally a slave state, but its economy did not depend on slavery, and it never seceded from the Union. The arsenal at Saint Louis was used during the war to construct ironclad ships for the Union.


Saint Louis is one of several cities that claims to have the world's first skyscraper. The Wainwright Building, an 11-story structure designed by Louis Sullivan and built in 1891, still stands at Chestnut and Seventh Streets and is used by the State of Missouri as a government office building.


Nikola Tesla made the first public demonstration of radio communication here in 1893. Addressing the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the National Electric Light Association, he described and demonstrated in detail the principles of radio communication. The apparatus that he used contained all the elements that were incorporated into radio systems before the development of the vacuum tube.


In 1904, the city hosted the World's Fair and made the United States become the first English-speaking country to host the Olympic Games.


The uranium used in the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bomb was refined in Saint Louis by Mallinckrodt Chemical Co., starting in 1942.


The Pruitt-Igoe housing project, built in 1955 and demolished in 1972, is one of the most infamous failures of urban planning. (The buildings were the first major work by Minoru Yamasaki, who later designed the World Trade Center.)


During the last half century, the city of Saint Louis, whose boundaries have been constrained since 1876, has suffered from population decline:

Geography

Location of Saint Louis, Missouri
The Rivers around Saint Louis
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The Rivers around Saint Louis

The city of Saint Louis extends along the western banks of the Mississippi River, just south of the Missouri-Mississippi confluence. Much of the area is a gently rolling prairie with low hills and broad, shallow valleys. Both the Mississippi River and the Missouri River have cut large valleys with wide flood plains. Limestone underlies much of the area and there are some sinkholes and caves, although most of the caves have been sealed shut.


The western and northern boundaries of Saint Louis County are defined by the Missouri River. Near the southern boundary of Saint Louis County is the Meramec River.


At the southern boundary of the city of Saint Louis (separating it from the county) is the River des Peres, virtually the only river or stream within the city limits that is not entirely underground. Most of River des Peres was either channelized or put underground in the 1920s and early 1930s. The lower section is an open channel with a sewer at the bottom. Because of poor water quality, the River des Peres has acquired some uncomplimentary local nicknames, such the "River de Pew" and "River Despair". The lower section of the river was the site of some of the worst flooding of the Great Flood of 1993.


Near the central, western boundary of the city is Forest Park, site of the 1904 World's fair, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 or, as it is commonly known, the Saint Louis World's Fair, and the 1904 Summer Olympics, the first Olympic Games held in North America. At the time, Saint Louis was the fourth most populous city in the United States.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 171.3 km² (66.2 mi²). 160.4 km² (61.9 mi²) of it is land and 11.0 km² (4.2 mi² or 6.39%) of it is water.


The Saint Louis, MO, IL MSA

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The Saint Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area

The Saint Louis Metropolitan Statistical Area, the 18th largest in the United States (population: 2,603,607), includes Saint Louis County (1,016,315), the independent City of Saint Louis (348,189), the Missouri counties of Saint Charles (283,883), Jefferson (198,099), Franklin (93,807), Lincoln (38,944) and Warren (24,525), and the Illinois counties of Madison (258,941), Saint Clair (256,082), Clinton (35,535), Monroe (27,619) and Jersey (21,668).


Cities in the Saint Louis MO-IL MSA include numerous municipalities (suburbs) in Saint Louis County, as well as St. Charles (population: 60,321) and Saint Peters (51,381) in Missouri, and Alton (30,496), Granite City (31,301), East Saint Louis (31,542) and Belleville (41,410) in Illinois.


Demographics

As of the census2 of 2000, there are 348,189 people, 147,076 households, and 76,920 families residing in the city. The population density is 2,171.1/km² (5,622.9/mi²). There are 176,354 housing units at an average density of 1,099.7/km² (2,847.9/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 51.20% African American, 43.85% White, 1.98% Asian, 0.27% Native American, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.80% from other races, and 1.88% from two or more races. 2.02% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race. Historically, North Saint Louis City has been primarily African American while South Saint Louis City has been primarily White. This has changed in recent years as large portions of North Saint Louis City have been depopulated, with African-American residents moving either south or to surrounding counties.


There are 147,076 households, out of which 25.4% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 26.2% are married couples living together, 21.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 47.7% are non-families. 40.3% of all households are made up of individuals and 12.9% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.30 and the average family size is 3.19.


In the city the population is spread out with 25.7% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 19.1% from 45 to 64, and 13.7% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 88.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 84.2 males.


The median income for a household in the city is $27,156, and the median income for a family is $32,585. Males have a median income of $30,106 versus $24,987 for females. The per capita income for the city is $16,108. 24.6% of the population and 20.8% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 36.4% of those under the age of 18 and 17.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.


Neighborhoods

(in the City of St. Louis)


The City of St. Louis is divided into 81 neighborhoods--79 officially. These divisions have no legal significance per se (although some neighborhood associations hold veto power over historic-district development and/or administer grants), but the social and political influence of neighborhood identity is profound. Their character ranges from avenues of massive stone edifices built as palaces for heads of state visiting the 1904 World's Fair, to tidy working-class bungalows, to struggling areas hard-hit by social problems and unemployment, to hip loft districts. Many of them have retained--quite consciously and deliberately--a camaraderie that is missing from many American towns today.


Although there are too many neighborhoods to profile here, ones that are widely-known, contain especially distinctive architecture or offer many attractions include:

  • Carondelet
  • Central West End
  • Clayton/Tamm
  • Downtown
  • The Hill
  • Lafayette Square
  • Midtown
  • Shaw (home to the Missouri Botanical Garden and named after the Garden's founder, Henry Shaw)
  • Soulard
  • Tower Grove East (named for nearby Tower Grove Park)
  • Tower Grove South (ditto)
  • Wydown/Skinker

Economy

Saint Louis, despite its size, for many years has been a major center for corporate headquarters. The city is well known as being the center of operations for Anheuser-Busch Breweries, as well as Monsanto, formerly a chemical company and now a leader in genetically modified crops, and Solutia, the former Monsanto chemical division that was spun off as a separate company in 1997. Two local brokerages have grown into dominant players on America's financial landscape: A.G. Edwards and Edward Jones. It is also the site for the headquarters of Energizer, the battery company.


Unfortunately, in recent years many longtime corporate pillars have left St. Louis. Saint Louis was the corporate headquarters of McDonnell-Douglas prior to its 1997 merger with Boeing. Upon the merger, the area became the headquarters for Boeing's $27 billion-per-year Integrated Defense Systems division and its company-wide Phantom Works R&D operation. Locally, Boeing manufactures the F/A-18 Super Hornet and JDAM smart bombs, and has developed--at times secretly--several unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs). However, when Boeing relocated its corporate headquarters from Seattle, Washington in 2001, it moved to Chicago, Illinois. Saint Louis was not one of the final candidates.


From 1994 until its acquisition in 2000 by Tyco International, another chemical company, Mallinckrodt, was headquartered in Saint Louis County. Many of the former Mallinckrodt facilities are still in operation by Tyco in the Saint Louis suburb of Hazelwood, Missouri.


Saint Louis has also been corporate headquarters for animal feed and human-food maker Ralston Purina (split up and acquired by out-of-town interests), Trans World Airlines (acquired by American Airlines, which then dismantled TWA's St. Louis hub), telecommunications company SBC (moved to San Antonio), and military contractor General Dynamics (moved to Washington, D.C.). All major St. Louis banks have been purchased by out-of-town banks. The city retains a Federal Reserve Bank.


Saint Louis remains home to railway car plants; two DaimlerChrysler plants in the nearby suburb of Fenton, Missouri, where minivans and pickup trucks are built; a General Motors plant in suburban Wentzville; and a Ford Motor Company plant in Hazelwood, where SUVs are built.


The region has built up a formidable health care industry. The industry is dominated by BJC Health Care, which operates the world-leading Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital, plus more than a dozen others. BJC benefits from a symbiotic relationship with Washington University's School of Medicine, which is a major center of medical research. Other major players include SSM Health Care, St. John's Mercy, and the Tenet Corporation chain.


Although local housing costs have risen in recent years, they are still significantly below the national average, and are a revelation to new arrivals from the coasts. From the mid-1990s onward, the City of St. Louis itself has seen a major surge in housing rehabilitation as well as new construction on cleared sites. As a rule, other costs of living also are at or below the national average. Wages tend to reflect these facts, likewise being at or slightly below the average.


Major attractions

The Gateway Arch
  • Forest Park, located on the western edge of the central corridor of the City of St. Louis, offers many of Saint Louis' most popular attractions: the free Saint Louis Zoological Park; the Municipal Theatre ("The Muny"), the largest and oldest outdoor musical theatre in the United States; the Saint Louis Science Center and Observatory, with its architecturally distinctive McDonnell Planetarium; the Saint Louis Art Museum (also free); the Missouri History Museum; and, of course, plenty of lakes and scenic, open areas. Forest Park completed a multimillion dollar renovation in 2004 for the centennial of the St. Louis World's Fair.
  • The Missouri Botanical Garden, also known as "Shaw's Garden", is one of the world's leading botanical research centers. It possesses a beautiful collection of flowery plants, shrubs, and trees: It includes the Japanese Garden, which features a lake filled with koi and lovely gravel designs; the woodsy English Garden; the Chinese Garden; the Home Gardening Center; a rose garden; the climate-controlled dome Climatron; and other scenic gardens. Immediately south of the Missouri Botanical Garden is Tower Grove Park, a gift to the City by Henry Shaw.
  • The Gateway Arch, officially named the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, is located near the riverfront in downtown Saint Louis. It was designed by noted architect Eero Saarinen. The Arch is the centerpiece of a national park that also includes the nearby Old Courthouse, where the famous Dred Scott case was tried.
  • The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, the New Cathedral is a large Roman Catholic cathedral designed in the Byzantine and Romanesque styles. The interior is decorated with lovely mosaics, the largest mosaic collection in the world.
  • The Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (1834), also known as the "Old Cathedral", is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral west of the Mississippi River. The Old Cathedral is located adjacent to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
  • The Fox Theatre, originally one of many movie theatres along Grand Boulevard, is now a newly restored theatre featuring Byzantine decor. The Fox Theatre presents a Broadway Series in addition to concerts.
  • The Hill is a historically Italian neighborhood where many of the area's best Italian restaurants can be found. The Hill was the home of Yogi Berra and many other noted baseball players.
  • Laclede's Landing, located directly north of Downtown and by the Mississippi River, is popular for its restaurants and clubs.
  • The International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame is located by Busch Stadium in downtown Saint Louis.
  • The Eugene Field House, located in downtown Saint Louis, is a museum dedicated to the distinguished children's author.
  • The City Museum (http://www.citymuseum.org/) offers a variety of fun exhibits. It serves as a meeting point for Saint Louis' young arts scene.
  • The Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra plays at Powell Symphony Hall. Leonard Slatkin is one of the former conductors.

Saint Louis also possesses several extant examples of 18th and 19th century architecture, such as the Soulard Market district (1779-1842), the Chatillon-de Menil House (1848), the Bellefontaine Cemetery (1850), and the Robert G. Campbell House (1852), the Old Courthouse (1845-62), and the original Anheuser-Busch Brewery (1860).


Nearby attractions

  • The Delmar Loop, located in University City just west of the Saint Louis city line, is a popular entertainment, cultural and restaurant district.
  • The Butterfly House is located in western St. Louis County.
  • The Museum of Transportation is located in Kirkwood, a suburb in southwestern St. Louis County.
  • Six Flags - Saint Louis, known as "Six Flags over Mid-America" when it opened in 1971, is an amusement park located in Eureka, Missouri, in the far west of St. Louis County.
  • Saint Charles, seat of St. Charles County and first capital of the state of Missouri, is the location from which the Lewis and Clark Expedition began. It also has a downtown historic district with many small craft shops.
  • Cahokia Mounds, located near Collinsville, Illinois, holds the ruins of a city of the ancient Mississippian aboriginal culture. Similar mounds within Saint Louis, used as construction fill in the 1800s, gave the city one of its nicknames.

Sports

In April 2005 Edward Jones Dome will host the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship Final Four.


The Savvis Center will host the 2007 Frozen Four college ice hockey tournament on April 5 and April 7, 2007.


In April 2009 Edward Jones Dome will host the NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship Final Four.


Cuisine

Colleges and universities

Saint Louis is the home of several major universities:

Medicine

Because of its colleges, hospitals, and companies like Monsanto, Saint Louis is respected as a center of medicine and biotechnology.


Journalism

The Saint Louis Post-Dispatch is the only major newspaper in the area. It was founded by Joseph Pulitzer in the 1800s. Pulitzer Publishing also owns the Suburban Journals, a collection of local newspapers. Other alternative weeklies include the Saint Louis American (the oldest African-American newspaper in America), The Saint Louis Argus (another respected African-American paper), The Evening Whirl (flamboyant and sensational) and the Riverfront Times (http://www.riverfronttimes.com/) ,though its coverage is more liberal commentary, social events and entertainment than news. Several other neighborhood and suburban journals cover local news. A variety of glossy monthlies caters largely to social and lifestyle concerns.


Radio station KMOX (1120 AM) pioneered the call-in talk radio format in the 1960s. With its clear-channel signal, sports lineup, and unusually active newsroom operation, it is influential. St. Louis also has the usual lineup of local network-affiliate television stations, of which KTVI-2 (Fox Broadcasting Company), KMOV-4 (CBS), KSDK-5 (NBC) and KDNL-30 (ABC) have news operations. Public radio station KWMU (90.7 FM) and PBS station KETC-9 have extensive locally-produced programming on social issues, politics, and entertainment. In the City of St. Louis proper, the government-operated cable channel City 10 offers a well-produced, professionally-polished lineup of public affairs programming.


Saint Louis is also home to the last remaining metropolitan journalism review, the Saint Louis Journalism Review (http://www.stljr.org/), based at Webster University in the suburb of Webster Groves, Missouri.


Transportation

Like most American cities, the main method of transportation is the automobile. Use of the automobile is supported by the existence of many limited-access interstate highways (I-70, I-55, I-44, I-64, I-255, I-170, I-270, and I-370), as well as numerous state and county highways. Also, located as an enclave in northern Saint Louis County, near the Missouri River, is the Lambert-Saint Louis International Airport, which is administered by the city of Saint Louis.


Mass transit is provided in two forms, both of which are controlled by one agency: the city bus system and Metrolink, a light-rail train system that mainly connects the airport to downtown and, recently, parts of the Metro East (the Saint Louis region in Illinois). Metrolink is currently being expanded to Clayton, the county seat for Saint Louis County, and to south Saint Louis County. Passenger train service is also available through a "temporary" (since 1980) train station set up near downtown by Amtrak; smaller, yet permanent, train stations exist in the suburb of Kirkwood and nearby Alton, Illinois.


Saint Louis was also the largest city between Chicago and Los Angeles on famous U.S. Highway 66.


Social issues

Historically, Saint Louis has been a de facto segregated city. The City's African-American population has been concentrated in North St. Louis. While some North St. Louis neighborhoods such as Baden, Penrose, and O'Fallon are stable and have a large number of middle-class residents, many northside neighborhoods suffer from poverty, unemployment, crime and dilapidated housing. Most white Saint Louisans, especially white males, who tend to hold the better jobs in the region and enjoy higher pay scales than women and minorities, have moved their families into the better-off suburbs. In an attempt to counter this problem, Saint Louis has implemented a school desegregation program: some inner city African-American students are bused into Saint Louis County schools, and, in exchange, some County students are bused into City magnet schools.


These historic patterns of segregation are starting to break down. For the past 25 years, St. Louis has a number of successful integrated neighborhoods in the "central corridor" stretching from Soulard and Lafayette Square near the Mississippi River to the Central West End near Forest Park. More recently, a number of near southside neighborhoods, especially around Tower Grove Park, have also successfully integrated. These areas have seen an influx of African-American residents, as well as Vietnamese residents and other immigrant groups. There has been a recent growth in the Bosnian population in South St. Louis. Many of the suburbs in North St. Louis County became more integrated during the 1990's. Indeed, the 2000 Census revealed that more African-Americans live in St. Louis County than live in St. Louis City. Of the African-American residents in the City, less than half live north of Delmar Boulevard, the traditional boundary for "North St. Louis."


The city of Saint Louis has one of the highest per-capita crime rates in the United States, with 111 murders and 7,059 burglaries in 2002, reported by CityData (http://www.city-data.com/). However, statistical data for the city of Saint Louis is often skewed by its fixed boundary and status as an independent city.


The whole Saint Louis area has been trying to fix its pollution problem. Missouri requires gasoline stations in the metro area to serve a special, reformulated gasoline. Most cars owned by residents of Saint Louis and the counties of Saint Louis, Saint Charles, Jefferson, and Franklin must pass an automobile pollution test every other year.


Famous Residents, Past and Present

Note: Dates in parentheses indicate lifespan, not necessarily residence. Inclusion in this list is a function of fame only; it does not represent an endorsement of the views or actions of any member by the contributors


A

  • Maya Angelou (1928-present): Poet/author, actor
  • Eberhard Anheuser (?-?): Businessman
  • Henry Armstrong (1912-1988): Athlete

B

C

D

  • John Danforth (1936-present): Statesman, diplomat. attorney, civic leader
  • Dwight Davis (1879-?): Athlete, government administrator
  • Miles Davis (1926-1991): Musician
  • Dizzy Dean (1910-1974): Athlete, broadcaster
  • Dan Dierdorf (1949-present): Athlete, broadcaster
  • Phyllis Diller (1917-present): Comedian, author, classical musician (seriously)
  • Katherine Dunham (1909-present): Dancer

E


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By this treaty St. Louis gave Henry III all the fiefs and domains belonging to the King of France in the Dioceses of Limoges, Cahors, and Périgueux; and in the event of Alphonsus of Poitiers dying without issue, Saintonge and Agenais would escheat to Henry III.
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