St. Louis (French: Saint-Louis or St-Louis) is an independent city and a major United States port on the eastern line of the state of Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the population was 319,294, and a 2012 estimate put the population at 318,172, making it the 58th-largest U.S. city in 2012. The metropolitan St. Louis area, known as Greater St. Louis (CSA), is the 19th-largest metropolitan area in the United States with a population of 2,900,605.
The city of St. Louis was founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau, and named for Louis IX of France. After the Louisiana Purchase, it became a major port on the Mississippi River; in the late 19th century, it became the fourth-largest city in the United States. 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. Immigration has increased, and it is the center of the largest Bosnian population in the world outside their homeland.
The economy of St. Louis relies on service, manufacturing, trade, transportation of goods, and tourism. The city is home to several corporations, including Peabody Energy, Ameren, Ralcorp and Sigma-Aldrich. 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 on both sides of the Mississippi River. Their major center was at Cahokia Mounds, active from 900CE to 1500 CE. The major earthworks within St. Louis boundaries were the source of the city's early nickname, the "Mound City." Historic Native American tribes in the area included the Siouan-speaking Osage people and the Illiniwek.
European exploration of the area was recorded 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 La Louisiane.
The earliest European 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. In early 1764, after France lost to the British in North America, Pierre Laclède and his stepson Auguste Chouteau founded the city of St. Louis. The early French families built the city's economy on the fur trade with the Osage, as well as with more distant tribes along the Missouri River. They used African slaves as domestic servants and workers in the city.
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 during the American Revolutionary War, St. Louis was attacked by British forces, mostly Native American allies, in the Battle of St. Louis.
St. Louis was transferred to the Republic of France in 1800, then sold to the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The city became the territorial capital and gateway to the western territory. Shortly after the purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition left St. Louis in May 1804 to explore the vast territory, 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 was admitted as a state in 1821, in which slavery was legal. The capital was moved from St. Louis to a more central location. St. Louis was incorporated as a city in 1822, and continued to see growth due to its port connections. Slaves worked in many jobs on the waterfront as well as on the riverboats. Given the city's location close to the free state of Illinois and others, some slaves escaped to freedom. Others, especially women with children, sued in court in freedom suits, and several prominent local attorneys aided slaves in these suits.
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 of the former French Louisiana territory.
After the war, St. Louis profited via trade with the West, aided by the 1874 completion of the Eads Bridge, the first bridge so far downriver over the Mississippi. Industrial developments on both banks of the river were linked by the bridge.
On August 22, 1876, the city of St. Louis voted to secede from St. Louis County and become an independent city Industrial production continued to increase during the late 19th century. 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 is the site of the Wainwright Building, an early skyscraper built by noted architect Louis Sullivan 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. Permanent facilities and structures remaining from the fair are Forest Park, the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Zoo and the Missouri History Museum.
In the aftermath of emancipation of slaves following the Civil War, social and racial discrimination in housing and employment were common in St. Louis. 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 case 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, providing employment to new generations of immigrants. 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 this was exacerbated by the relatively small geographical size of St. Louis due to its earlier decision to become an independent city. During the 19th and 20th century, most major cities aggressively annexed surrounding areas as they grew out away from the central city, however St. Louis was unable to do so. The city of St. Louis contains only 11% of its total metropolitan population, while the central city averages 24% of total metropolitan area population among the top 20 metro areas in the United States. Although small increases in population were seen in St. Louis' population during the early 2000s, the city of St. Louis lost population from 2000 to 2010. Immigration has continued, with the city attracting Vietnamese, Latinos from Mexico and Central America, and Bosnians, the latter forming the largest Bosnian community outside their homeland.
Several urban renewal projects were built in the 1950s, as the city struggled to improve old and substandard housing. Some of these were poorly designed and resulted in problems, of which Pruitt-Igoe became a symbol of failure and was torn down.
Since the 1980s, revitalization efforts have focused on downtown St. Louis, and gentrification has taken place in the Washington Avenue Historic District. Because of its strategic efforts and the upturn in urban revitalization, St. Louis received the World Leadership Award for urban renewal in 2006.
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