St. Louis (French: Saint-Louis or St-Louis) is an independent city on the eastern border of Missouri, United States. With a population of 318,069 in July 2011, it was the 58th-largest U.S. city at the 2010 U.S. Census. The metropolitan St. Louis area, officially classified as the Greater St. Louis, (CSA) population of 2,882,932, is the 15th-largest in the country and is the largest metro area in Missouri.
The city of St. Louis was founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau, and after the Louisiana Purchase, it became a major port on the Mississippi River. Its population expanded after the American Civil War, and it became the fourth-largest city in the United States in the late 19th century. It seceded from St. Louis County in March 1877, allowing it to become an independent city and limiting its political boundaries. In 1904, it hosted the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the 1904 Summer Olympics. The city's population peaked in 1950, then began a long decline that continues in the 21st century.
The economy of St. Louis relies on service, manufacturing, trade, transportation of goods, and tourism. The region is home to several major corporations: Express Scripts, Emerson Electric, Enterprise Holdings, Reinsurance Group of America, Peabody Energy, Ameren, Charter Communications, Graybar Electric, Sigma-Aldrich, Monsanto, Centene and Edward Jones. St. Louis is home to three professional sports teams: the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful Major League Baseball clubs; the hockey St. Louis Blues, and the football St. Louis Rams. The city is commonly identified with the Gateway Arch, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in downtown St. Louis.
The area that would become St. Louis was a center of Native American Mississippian culture, which built numerous temple and residential earthwork mounds in the region, giving the city its early nickname, the "Mound City". European exploration of the area began in 1673, when French explorers Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette traveled through the Mississippi River valley. Five years later, La Salle claimed the region for France as part of French Louisiana.
The earliest settlements in the area were built in Illinois Country (also known as Upper Louisiana) during the 1690s and early 1700s at Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Fort de Chartres. Migrants from the eastern French villages founded Ste. Genevieve, Missouri, across the Mississippi River from Kaskaskia, and in early 1764, Pierre Laclède and his stepson Auguste Chouteau founded the city of St. Louis.
From 1764 to 1803 European control of the area west of the Mississippi to the northernmost part of the Missouri River basin, called Louisiana, was assumed by the Spanish as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. In 1780, St. Louis was attacked by British forces, mostly Native Americans, during the American Revolutionary War.
St. Louis was transferred back to France in 1800, then sold to the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase, and the city became the territorial capital. Shortly after the purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition left St. Louis in May 1804, reaching the Pacific Ocean in summer 1805, and returning on September 23, 1806. Both Lewis and Clark lived in St. Louis after the expedition. Many other explorers, settlers, and trappers (such as Ashley's Hundred) would later take a similar route to the West. The city elected its first municipal legislators (called trustees) in 1808.
Steamboats first arrived in St. Louis in 1818, improving connections with New Orleans and eastern markets. Missouri became a state in 1821, at which point the capital moved from St. Louis. St. Louis was incorporated as a city in 1822, and continued to see growth due to its port connections.
Immigrants from Ireland and Germany arrived in St. Louis in significant numbers starting in the 1840s, and the population of St. Louis grew from less than 20,000 in 1840, to 77,860 in 1850, to more than 160,000 by 1860. By the mid 1800s, St Louis had a greater population than New Orleans. To this day, St Louis is the largest city that had been controlled by the French in French Louisiana.
During the American Civil War, St. Louis was the site of significant divisions, although no combat took place in the city after the 1861 Camp Jackson Affair. The war hurt St. Louis economically, due to the blockade of river traffic to the South, although the St. Louis Arsenal constructed ironclads for the Union. St. Louis profited via trade with the West after the war, and in 1874, the city completed the Eads Bridge, the first bridge over the Mississippi River in the area.
On August 22, 1876, the city of St. Louis voted to secede from St. Louis County and become an independent city, and industrial production continued to increase during the late 19th century. The city also produced a number of notable people in the fields of literature, including Tennessee Williams and T. S. Eliot, and major corporations such as the Anheuser-Busch brewery and Ralston-Purina company were established. St. Louis also was home to Desloge Consolidated Lead Company and several brass era automobile companies, including the Success Automobile Manufacturing Company; St. Louis also is the site of the Wainwright Building, an early skyscraper built in 1892.
In 1904, the city hosted the 1904 World's Fair and the 1904 Summer Olympics, becoming the first non-European city to host the Olympics. Proceeds from the fair provided the city with Forest Park, the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Zoo and the Missouri History Museum.
Discrimination in housing and employment were common in St. Louis, and starting in the 1910s, many property deeds included racial or religious restrictive covenants. During World War II, the NAACP campaigned to integrate war factories, and restrictive covenants were prohibited in 1948 by the Shelley v. Kraemer U.S. Supreme Court decision, which originated as a lawsuit in St. Louis. However, de jure educational segregation continued into the 1950s, and de facto segregation continued into the 1970s, leading to a court challenge and interdistrict desegregation agreement.
St. Louis, like many Midwestern cities, expanded in the early 20th century due to the formation of many industrial companies and due to wartime housing shortages. It reached its peak population of 856,796 at the 1950 census. Suburbanization from the 1950s through the 1990s dramatically reduced the city's population, and although small increases in population were seen in the early 2000s, the city of St. Louis lost population from 2000 to 2010. Several urban renewal projects commenced in the 1950s, and the city achieved notoriety for its housing projects, particularly Pruitt-Igoe. Since the 1980s, revitalization efforts have focused on downtown St. Louis, and gentrification has taken place in the Washington Avenue Historic District. Because of the upturn in urban revitalization, St. Louis received the World Leadership Award for urban renewal in 2006.