Saint-Louis is an independent city in Missouri with an estimated population of 354,361 in 2008. Saint-Louis is the principal municipality of Greater St. Louis, population 2,866,517, the largest urban area in Missouri and Illinois and is sixteenth largest in the United States. Filled with a variety of people from Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Ireland, as well as many other places, Saint-Louis is home to a broad array of cultures and cuisines. Known for the Gateway Arch, as well as its contribution to Blues, Ragtime, Jazz and Theatre and called “North America’s Best Sports City”, there is something for everyone in St. Louis. Major teams in St. Louis include, the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful Major League Baseball teams, the St. Louis Rams (football) and St. Louis Blues (hockey).
The St. Louis region is home to some of the country's largest privately-held corporations, including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Graybar, Scottrade, Edward Jones, and is also home to some of the largest public corporations, including Emerson, Energizer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Purina, Express Scripts, Charter Communications, Monsanto Company, and Wachovia Securities. The city has also made important contributions to Beer in the United States due to the large number of breweries in St. Louis during the 19th century. Saint-Louis received the World Leadership Award for urban renewal in 2006.
Prior to the arrival of French explorers in 1673 the area that would become St. Louis was a major center of the Mississippian mound builders. The presence of numerous mounds, now almost all destroyed, earned the later city the nickname of "Mound City". European exploration of the area had begun nearly a century before the city was founded. Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette, two French explorers, traveled through the Mississippi River valley in 1673, and five years later, La Salle claimed the entire valley for France. He called it "Louisiana" after King Louis XIV; the French also called their region "Illinois Country."
In 1699 the French established a settlement at Cahokia, across the Mississippi River from what is now St. Louis. They founded other early settlements downriver at Kaskaskia, Prairie du Pont, and Fort de Chartres, Illinois, and Sainte Genevieve. In 1703, Catholic priests established a small mission at what is now St. Louis. The mission was later moved across the Mississippi, but the small river at the site (now a drainage channel near the southern boundary of the City of St. Louis) still bears the name "River Des Peres" (French Rivière des pères, River of the Fathers).
In 1763, Pierre Laclède de Liguest, his 13-year-old "stepson" Auguste Chouteau, and a small band of men traveled up the Mississippi from New Orleans to found a post to take advantage of trade coming downstream by the Missouri River. In November, they landed a few miles downstream of the river's confluence with the Missouri River at a site where wooded limestone bluffs rose forty feet above the river. The men returned to Fort du Chartres for the winter, but in February, Laclède sent Chouteau and thirty men to begin construction at the new site, laid out in a grid pattern as an imitation of New Orleans.
The settlement began to grow quickly after word arrived that the 1763 Treaty of Paris had given Britain all the land east of the Mississippi. Frenchmen who had earlier settled to the river's east moved across the water to "Laclède's Village." Other early settlements were established nearby at Saint Charles, the independent village of Carondelet (later annexed by St. Louis and now the southernmost part of the current City), Fleurissant (renamed Saint Ferdinand by the Spaniards and now Florissant), and Portage des Sioux. In 1765, St. Louis was made the capital of Upper Louisiana.
From 1766 to 1768, St. Louis was governed by the French lieutenant governor, Louis Saint Ange de Bellerive, who was appointed not by French or Spanish authorities, but by the leading residents of St. Louis. After 1768, St. Louis was governed by a series of governors appointed by Spanish authorities, whose administration continued even after Louisiana was secretly returned to France in 1800 by the Treaty of San Ildefonso. The town's population was then about a thousand. During the period when commandants appointed by Spanish authorities governed St. Louis, meetings of leading residents were also held from time to time, and "syndics" were sometimes elected to carry out certain governmental tasks. In 1780 St. Louis was attacked by the British during the American Revolution. A combined Spanish and French Creole force protected the city.
St. Louis was acquired from France by the United States under President Thomas Jefferson in 1803, as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The transfer of power from Spain was made official in a ceremony called "Three Flags Day." On March 8, 1804, the Spanish flag was lowered and the French one raised. On March 10, the French flag was replaced by the United States flag. Until the 1820s French continued to be one of the major spoken and written languages in St. Louis, along with English. The Lewis and Clark Expedition left the St. Louis area in May 1804, reached the Pacific Ocean in the summer of 1805, and returned 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. After Missouri became a state in 1821, St. Louis was incorporated as a city on December 9, 1822. The city elected its first municipal legislators (called trustees) in 1808. A U. S. arsenal was constructed at St. Louis in 1827.
The steamboat era began in St. Louis on July 27, 1817, with the arrival of the Zebulon M. Pike. Steamboats signified significant progress in river trade, as steam power permitted much more efficient and dependable river transportation. Unlike the hand-propelled barges and keel boats that preceded the steamboat as the choice vehicle of Mississippi River trade, steamboats could travel upriver, and against the current, just as easily as downriver.
Rapids north of the city made St. Louis the northernmost navigable port for many large boats. The Pike and her sisters soon transformed St. Louis into a bustling boom town, commercial center, and inland port. By the 1830s, it was common to see more than 150 steamboats at the St. Louis levee at one time. By the 1850s, St. 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.
Immigrants flooded into St. Louis after 1840, particularly from Germany, Bohemia, and Ireland, the last driven by persecution from the English and secondary a potato famine. During Reconstruction, rural Southern blacks flooded into St. Louis as well, seeking better opportunity. 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. At this time, public transit developed in order to effectively transport the numbers of new residents in the city. Omnibuses began to service St. Louis in 1843, and in 1859, St. Louis' first streetcar tracks were laid. Later in the 19th century, Italian immigrants began to arrive in the city and farming areas. They helped expand wine making to the Rolla area.
On August 22, 1876 the City of St. Louis voted to secede from St. Louis County and become an independent city. At that time the County was primarily rural and sparsely populated, and the fast-growing City did not want to spend its tax dollars on infrastructure and services for the inefficient county; the move also allowed some in St. Louis government to increase their political power. This decision later haunted the City, as the results of that separation are still problematic today.
St. Louis, as did many other Midwestern cities, experienced major expansion in the early 20th century due to the formation of many industrial companies and reached its peak population at the 1950 census. The Gateway Arch was built in the mid-1960s. In the postwar era, suburbanization in conjunction with the GI Bill, interstate highway construction, and changes in housing preferences shifted the population out of the city and into newly formed suburbs. Although the overall population of the St. Louis MSA has always been growing, the St. Louis city population itself decreased for decades, especially after job losses due to restructuring of railroad and other industries.
Recently, there has been revitalization in Downtown St. Louis and along a corridor extending to the west through Midtown and the Central West End neighborhoods. The St. Louis Cardinals' new Busch Stadium opened in 2006. Ballpark Village would have been built where the northern half of the former Busch Stadium stood, but those plans have been put on hold. For several years, the Washington Avenue Loft District has been gentrifying with an expanding corridor along Washington Avenue from the Edward Jones Dome westward almost two dozen blocks. Revitalization continues, including new construction, as the corridor extends to the west to Forest Park.
Because of the major upturn in urban revitalization, St. Louis received the World Leadership Award for urban renewal in 2006. In 2007, the U. S. Census Bureau reported St. Louis had a net population gain of 7,474 from the 2000 Census, to 355,663, the first gain the city has had since 1950. However, since then, the State of Missouri released census estimates projecting the city will lose 3,000 residents by 2030.
The city operates 105 parks that serve as gathering spots for neighbors to meet, and contains playgrounds, areas for summer concerts, picnics, baseball games, tennis courts, and lakes. Forest Park, located on the western edge of the central corridor of the City of St. Louis, is one of the largest urban parks in the world, exceeding Central Park in New York City by 500 acres (2 km²).
The Missouri Botanical Garden, also known as Shaw's Garden, is one of the world's leading botanical research centers. It possesses a collection of flowering plants, shrubs, and trees, and includes the Japanese Garden, which features gravel designs and a lake filled with koi; the woodsy English Garden; the Kemper Home Gardening Center; a rose garden; the Climatron; a children's garden and playground; and many other scenic gardens. Immediately south of the Missouri Botanical Garden is Tower Grove Park, a gift to the City by Henry Shaw. Tower Grove Park is one of the oldest "walking" parks in the United States, and hosts annual outdoor concerts free to the public.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is a 90.96-acre (368,100 m2) national park located on the downtown riverfront where the city was first founded in 1764. It commemorates the westward growth of the United States between 1803 and 1890. The centerpiece of the park is the stainless steel Gateway Arch, which is the most recognizable structure in the city. It was designed by noted architect Eero Saarinen and completed on October 28, 1965. At 630 feet (192 m), it is the tallest manmade monument in the United States. Located below the Arch is the Museum of Westward Expansion, which contains an extensive collection of artifacts. It tells the details of the story of the thousands of people who lived in and settled the American West during the nineteenth century. Nearby and also part of the memorial is the historic Old Courthouse, one of the oldest standing buildings in St. Louis. Begun in 1839, it was here that the first two trials of the Dred Scott case were held in 1847 and 1850. This park is also the location of the annual July 4 festival, Fair Saint Louis.
The Citygarden is a two-block (2.9-acre (12,000 m2)) urban sculpture park, located in Downtown St. Louis. Citygarden is a joint project between the city and the Gateway Foundation, with the former paying for landscaping, water, and electricity, and the latter paying for construction and the art in the park. The landscaping includes plants native to Missouri and water fountains; featured art at the garden include those from artists such as Fernand Leger, Aristide Maillol, Julian Opie, Tom Otterness, Niki de Saint Phalle, and Mark di Suvero. The park is also divided into three sections, each of which represent a different theme: river bluffs; flood plains; and urban gardens. The park also has a restaurant - The Terrace View.
Forest Park is one of St. Louis' most treasured resources. Located in the heart of the city, it is the heart of our city. Forest Park belongs to all St. Louisans. Owned and operated by the City of St. Louis, Forest Park is one of 105 city parks under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry. Forest Park, officially opened to the public on June 24, 1876, is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. At 1,293 acres, it is approximately 500 acres larger than Central Park in New York.
Steinberg Skating Rink
On crisp winter days, the rink is filled with skaters of all ages and skill levels enjoying the rink. On cold nights, it is crowded with people who leave the city behind as they glide over the ice under the stars. Last winter, Steinberg Rink was voted "the most romantic place in St. Louis" by readers of the Post-Dispatch.
Demolition Ball and Adrenaline Zone
Where else can you take your friends of all ages and keep them entertained all day? On one side, Demolition Ball, the game you know and love. On the other, Adrenaline Zone, one of the largest multi - level laser tag arenas in the state.
In the middle of all the action, video games, pool tables, foosball tables, and plenty of room for up to five hundred of your closest friends (or enemies).
Chandler Hill Vineyards
From the magnificent tasting room and deck overlooking the vineyards, hidden lake and the inspiring Osage valley teeming with wildlife, to the exquisite Missouri and California vintages, delicious food and enticing gifts, Chandler Hill is an enchanting destination to visit time and time again. Available for private parties from 25 to 300 people be it a special celebration, wedding reception or corporate event.
Bissell Mansion Restaurant and Dinner Theatre
Enjoy lunch or dinner theatre in St. Louis' oldest home, located just five minutes from the Gateway Arch. The participatory murder mystery is served with a four course dinner (choice of entree), wine and beverage. Matinees or evening private dinner shows are available for groups during the week.
St. Louis Cardinals
Catch exciting baseball action and cheer for the St. Louis Cardinals, the most successful National League franchise.
St. Louis Rams
The National Football League’s St. Louis Rams play home games in the Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis, Aug.- Dec.