Saint Louis is a city that is located in the state of Missouri, in the United States. It covers an area of sixty-six square miles and has a population of around three hundred and fifty thousand people. This makes the city the third most populated city in state of Missouri and the sixteenth largest in the country. Saint Louis is known as the “Gateway to the West” because of it importance in the western expansion of the United States. The city is also one of the biggest centers of Roman Catholicism in the country, due to the extensive Spanish and French colonization in its early history.
The history of Saint Louis can be traced back to prehistoric times when the area on which the city is located was occupied by Native American mound builders who built numerous burial mounds along the Mississippi River. All but one of these mounds have since been destroyed, with the remaining mound being located across the Mississippi in Collinsville, Illinois and is known as Cahokian Mounds. Exploration of the area began in the seventeenth century when two French explorers, Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette traveled through the Mississippi River Valley. Five years later, in 1678, La Salle claimed the Mississippi River Valley for France. He called the area Louisiana after the French king Louis XIV, and the French also referred to the area as Illinois Country. By the beginning of the eighteenth century, the French had numerous settlements down river of the region which included Sainte Genevieve, Prairie du Pont, Kaskaskia and Fort de Chartres.
Pierre Laclede, his stepson and a small exploratory force traveled up the Mississippi in 1764 and began chose the site for a new settlement located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. After selecting the sit he then traveled back down to Fort de Chartres. The following year, in February of 1765, Pierre Laclede sent his stepson Auguste Chouteau and thirty men back to the site to establish the colony. The city experienced a rapid growth as French fur traders from around the area began to flock to the new settlement. Other small colonies began to develop around the settlement and these included Saint Charles, Fleurissant (now known as Florisant), Portage des Siox and Carondelet (which was incorporated in the city). It was also during this time that Saint Louis became the capital of Upper Louisiana. Between the 1768 and 1800, the city was transferred to the Spanish and was ruled by several Spanish governors. In 1800, the Spanish returned the sparsely populated area back to the French under the conditions of the Treaty of San Ildefonso. In 1803, Thomas Jefferson acquired the city, along with the rest of the region, as a part of the Louisiana Purchase. This transfer of power was witnessed by the citizens of the city in 1804. On March 8, the Spanish flag was lowered as the French raised their flag. Two days later, the French flag was lowered and the flag of the United States was raised.
In May of 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition left the Saint Louis area and traveled up to the Pacific Ocean, mapping the area as they traversed it. In 1820, Missouri became an official state of the United States and Saint Louis was incorporated as a city in December of 1822. Five years later, a United States military arsenal was constructed in the city. All during the nineteenth century, Saint Louis experienced a rapid period of economic expansion as it became known as a center of commerce and inland port. After 1840, Saint Louis received a large influx of immigrants, most of them lower class, from Germany, Italy, Ireland and Bohemia. This caused the city’s population to explode from twenty thousand resident in 1840 to over one hundred and sixty thousand by 1860. This increase in population was remarkable considering that in 1849 the city suffered two catastrophic disasters. The first disaster was a cholera epidemic that killed ten percent of the population and the second one was a fire that destroyed a large portion of the city. These two events led to an expansive construction that included the construction of sewer and water utilities and a new building code that required buildings to be constructed of stone or brick. Much of the brick that was used in the construction of the new buildings were acquired from a brick factory in Irondale, Missouri which used clay taken from the Big River.
Today, Saint Louis is a city that contains many historic landmarks and museums. One of the most recognizable landmarks in the city is the Gateway Arch. The Gateway Arch is the icon of the city and an important part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. It was designed by architect Eero Saarinen and structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel in 1947. Its construction began in February of 1963 and was completed in October of 1965. It stands six hundred and thirty feet tall and is also six hundred and thirty feet wide at its base. Its composed of reinforced concrete, carbon steel and iron rebar with a stainless steel skin. The interior of the structure is hollow and features a tram system that leads to an observation deck at the top. It also contains two emergency stairwells that contain one thousand and seventy-six steps each.
Other prominent attractions in the city include the New Cathedral (Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis), the Old Cathedral (Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France), an Italian neighborhood known as The Hill, Forest Park, The Muny, the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum, Lemp Mansion, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, City Museum, Tower Grove Park, Fox Theater, Missouri History Museum, Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Saint Louis University Museum of Art, Busch Stadium, Saint Louis Union Station, Eugene Field House, Laclede’s Landing, Sheldon Concert Hall, Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Soulard Market District, Chatillon-de-Menil House, Robert G. Campbell House, the Old Courthouse, the Wainwright Building, Powell Symphony Hall, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, T.R. Hughes Ballpark, Edward Jones Dome, Scottrade Center, Westport Plaza, Missouri Botanical Garden, Citygarden, Roberts Tower, Saint Louis Abbey, Millenium Hotel and the Lewis and Clark Sculpture.
Famous people from the city of Saint Louis include Maya Angelou, Josephine Baker, Scott Bakula, Yogi Berra, Chuck Berry, Linda Blair, Daniel Boone, Joe Buck, Adolphus Busch, Kate Capshaw, Nell Carter, Chingy, Arthur Compton, Miles Davis, Phyllis Diller, Jack Dorsey (creator of Twitter), James Eads, Max Factor, Redd Foxx, Betty Grable, James Gunn, Jon Hamm, Sheryl Crow, T.S Elliot, Marianne Moore, Stan Musial, Dustin Nguyen, Dan O’Bannon, Dan O’Bannon, Bob Orton, King Parsons, Vincent Price, Harold Ramis, Edward Saxon, Dred Scott, Henry Shaw, Leon Spinks, Sara Teasdale, Tina Turner, Mark Twain, Rusty Wallace and Mike Shannon.