Nicknames: the Gateway City and Mound City
(Inserting dates and more information in this section would be especially helpful.)
Pierre Laclede founded Saint Louis as a trading post in the mid to late 1700s (exact date?). After the French and Indian War, Saint Louis was controlled by Spain; but Saint Louis, along with the rest of the Lousiana territory, was returned to France during the Napoleonic Wars. Saint Louis and the whole Louisiana Territory were acquired for the United States by Thomas Jefferson. Saint Louis later became the starting point for settlers moving west.
Saint Louis is the largest metropolitan area in the state of Missouri with a total, bistate (several Missouri and Illinois counties) population at 2,603,607 (eighteenth largest metropolitan area in the U.S.) as of 2000. The city of Saint Louis, a separate entity from Saint Louis County, contributes 348,189 people, according to the 2000 U.S. Census; and its population has been declining since the 1950s as people continue to move to the multiplicity of suburbs in Saint Louis County (1,016,315), Saint Charles County (283,883), Franklin County (93,807) and Jefferson County (198,099) in Missouri and Madison (258,941), Saint Clair (256,082), and Monroe (27,619) counties in Illinois, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.
The city of Saint Louis itself is along the western banks of the Mississippi River and is just south of the Missouri-Mississippi confluence. Near its southern frontier is the River Des Peres; the River Des Peres is now used as a storm drainage channel and is usually reduced to mere puddles, which gives rise to the local name, the River Des Pew. Near the central, western boundary shared with Saint Louis County is the famous Forest Park, home of the Lousiana Purchase Exposition of 1904 or, as it is commonly known, the Saint Louis World's Fair.
- Forest Park, located in the Central West End neigborhood of the city of Saint Louis, offers many of Saint Louis's most popular attractions: the Saint Louis Zoological Park (free admission); the Muny, an open-air, broadway-style theater; the Saint Louis Science Center and Observatory; the Saint Louis Art Museum; the Missouri History Museum; and, of course, plenty of lakes and scenic, open areas.
- The Missouri Botanical Gardens, also known as Shaw's Gardens, is a beautiful collection of flowery plants, shrubs, and trees: It comprises the Japanese Garden, which features a lake filled with koi and lovely gravel designs; the woodsy English Garden; the Chinese Garden; the Home Gardening Center; a rose garden; the climate-controlled Terradome (?); and other scenic gardens.
- The Arch is located near the riverfront in downtown Saint Louis. The Arch is the centerpiece of a national park that also includes the nearby Old Courthouse, where the famous Dred Scott case was brought to court.
- Cahokia Mounds, located near Collinsville, Illinois, is the ruins of a city of the ancient Mississippian aboriginal culture.
- The Saint Louis Cardinals are one of the teams of baseball's National League, and they play at Busch Stadium.
- The Saint Louis Blues is the local NHL hockey team; they play at the Savvis Center, formerly the Kiel Center.
- The Saint Louis Rams are an NFL team best known for bringing Saint Louis its first Super Bowl victory. They play at the Trans World Dome (soon to be renamed).
- Saint Charles, seat of Saint Charles County and first capital of the state of Missouri, is the location from which the Lewis and Clark Expedition began. It also has a downtown historic district with many small craft shops.
- Six Flags - Saint Louis is the local amusement park and can be found in Eureka, Missouri --in far West Saint Louis County.
- The Cathedral-Bascilica of Saint Louis or the New Cathedral is a large Roman Catholic cathedral designed in the Byzantine and Romanesque styles. On the inside, it is decorated with lovely mosaics, which were, at one point, the largest set of mosaics in the world.
- The Fox Theater holds many performances during the year.
- The Hill is a historically Italian neighborhood where many of the area's best Italian restaurants can be found.
- Laclede's Landing, located directly north of Downtown and by the Mississippi River, is popular for its restaurants and clubs.
- The Bowling Hall of Fame is located by Busch Stadium in downtown Saint Louis.
- The City Museum offers a variety of fun exhibits.
- The Museum of Transportation is located in Kirkwood, a suburb in southwestern Saint Louis County.
- The Saint Louis Symphony-Orchestra plays at Powell Symphony Hall. Leonard Slatkin is one of the former conductors.
Saint Louis is the home of many important universities: Saint Louis University (SLU), Wahington University (Wash U.), Webster University, the University of Missouri at Saint Louis (UMSL), and others.
Saint Louis is well known as being the center of operations for Anheiser-Busch Breweries. Saint Louis is also home to a Boeing plant (formerly McDonnell-Douglas), where many of the United States' and its allies' military aircraft are built.
Because of its colleges, hospitals, and companies like Monsanto (now part of Solutia), Saint Louis is respected as a center of medicine and biotechnology.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is the only major local newspaper in the Saint Louis area; Pultizer Publishing also owns the Suburban Journals, a collection of local newspapers. It is known and accepted that the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a liberal bias in the coverage of politics and events. The St. Louis Riverfront Times exists, but its coverage is more social events and entertainment than news. A few neighborhood and suburban journals cover local news.
By far, most Saint Louisans' main method of transportation is the automobile. Use of the automobile is supported by the existence of many limited-access interstate highways (I-70, I-55, I-270, I-255, etc.) and many other roads. Also, located as an enclave in northern Saint Louis County, near the Missouri River, is the Lambert-Saint Louis International Airport, which is administrated by the city of Saint Louis. Mass transit is provided in two forms, both of which are controlled by one agency: the city bus system and Metrolink, a raised, monorail train system that mainly connects the airport to downtown and, recently, parts of the Metro East (the Saint Louis region in Illinois). Passenger train service is also available through a "temporary" (since 1980) train station set up near downtown by Amtrak; smaller, yet permanent, train stations exist in the suburb of Kirkwood and nearby Alton, Illinois.
Saint Louis is, for the most part, a segregated city. African-American Saint Louisans tend to live in the poorest, most crime-ridden areas whereas most European-American Saint Louisans have moved into the better-off suburbs. In an attempt to counter this problem, Saint Louis has implemented a school desegregation program: Some inner city African-American students are bussed into Saint Louis County schools; and, in exchange, some County students are bussed into City magnet schools.
Corruption has been a major problem in the government of the City, where a Republican candidate for mayor is unlikely to win an election against a Democratic one. As the population of the City has decreased, the aldermen and alderwomen have fought to keep the number of wards from being decreased from its current twenty.
Another problem that the whole Saint Louis area has been trying to fix is pollution. In Missouri, the state has requires gasoline stations in the Saint Louis area to serve a special, reformulated gasoline; furthermore, the state has implemented an automobile pollution test which all cars (with some exceptions, of course) owned by residents of Saint Louis and the counties of Saint Louis, Saint Charles, Jefferson, and Franklin must pass every other year.
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