St. Louis Missouri History
The Mississippian culture used to live in this area. French explorers passed through the area during their 1673 exploration of Mississippi. Pierre Laclede Liguest was a New Orleans fur-trader who established a post on the spot in 1764. It was Spanish territory at the time. Auguste Chouteau laid the foundation and named it Louis IX, French canonized King. Later, St. Louis (1800), was retroceded back to France and, following the Louisiana Purchase (1803), became an American territory. In 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition embarked on a great exploration trip to explore the Pacific Northwest. It was also the capital city of Missouri (1812), as well as Louisiana (1805) territory.
St. Louis was quickly a major river port after the 1817 arrival steamboats. Many immigrants came from Germany and Ireland in the 19th century. The Missouri Constitution Convention (1820) was held here. However, the capital was moved to Kansas when it became a state (1821). It was the center of westward expansion in America. It was used to outfit exploration parties, fur-trading excursions and pioneers who traveled across the state from Independence. After a cholera epidemic, a steamboat exploded on the riverfront killing many people. Railroads were built in 1850s. They had replaced steamboats by 1870s. St. Louis was once a Union base but was placed under martial law during American Civil War.
The fur trade was still very important until the mid-1800s, but St. Louis was transformed into an industrial hub for brewing and manufacturing (including shoes) in the second half of 19th century. The bridge that linked the Mississippi railroads was called the Eads Bridge (1874), now a National Historic Landmark. This made St. Louis an important transportation hub. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (also known as the St. Louis World's Fair) was held in Forest Park, just west of St. Louis. It was held alongside the 1904 Olympic Games. It attracted international attention. Charles A. Lindbergh flew alone across the Atlantic Ocean with financial support from St. Louis businessmen.
In the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries, St. Louis' population grew steadily. Despite some slow growth during the Great Depression of 1930s, it recovered during World War II and reached an all-time high 850,000 in 1950. This period saw a higher number of African Americans among the newcomers. The city's population fell rapidly over the next years. It was approximately equivalent to 1880 in 2000 at about two-fifths of its 1950 level. The majority of those who moved out of the city were of European descent. They moved to the suburbs which grew quickly. But, St. Louis's African Americans population declined at a slower rate and by 2000, more than half its residents were black.
St. Louis remains a major transportation and distribution hub. It is the country’s second-largest inland port, and an important part of the Inland Waterway Systems. It is Mississippi's northernmost point, which remains ice-free all year. The main cargoes are grains, coal and petroleum products, as well as chemicals. St. Louis is home to an international airport and a network interstate highways. It is the country's largest rail hub. The city is home to many large corporations. Services are a major part of the economy. These include health care, finance and banking as well as telecommunications and airline operations. Education is another major contributor. Manufacturing is still the main contributor to the economy. Beer, chemicals, metal products and missiles are just a few of the many products that make up the economy. Another important source of high technology industries is the nearby Illinois air force base.
The metro area has many higher education institutions. St. Louis University maintains the Pius XII Memorial Library (1818), which contains microfilms of Vatican Library treasures. William Greenleaf Eliot (1853), great-grandfather of T.S. Eliot founded Washington University. St. Louis College of Pharmacy and Eliot date back to 1864. University of Missouri-St. Just northwest is the University of Missouri-St. Louis (1963). Other schools include Lindenwood University of St. Charles (1827), Harris-Stowe State College 1860, Maryville University of St. Louis (1972), Webster University of St. Louis (1915), Fontbonne University1923 and St. Louis Community College(62).
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