Happy 249th Birthday St. Louis!!!
By Mary Miller Cullins
This week the City of St. Louis celebrated its 249th birthday; a group of St. Louisans laid a floral wreath at the foot of the Pierre Liquest Laclede statue, west of City Hall facing Market Street.
A decades old tradition carried on by La Societe Francaise de Saint Louis, is to place a wreath before the statue of the fur trader from southern France on February 14th. It was on this date in 1764, at Laclede’s direction that his 14 year old son, August Chouteau, began oversight of laborers who would build a fur trading post. The post was just yards away from the Gateway Arch.
Since the birth of this great city St. Louis racked up many momentous occasions. From 1764-1803 Europeans controlled the area west of the Mississippi to the northernmost part of the Missouri river basin, called Louisiana. In 1780, St. Louis was attacked by British forces, mostly Native Americans, during the American Revolutionary War. transferred back to France in 1800, then sold to the United States in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The Lewis and Clark Expedition left St. Louis in 1804. They returned in 1806 and settled in St. Louis along with many other explorers, settlers, and trappers. The city elected its first municipal legislators (trustees) in 1808.
Steamboats arrived in 1818 and Missouri became a state in 1821. St. Louis was incorporated as a city in 1822 and continued to grow due to its port connections. Immigrants began arriving in the 1840′s, and our population began to grow at a rapid pace! On August 22, 1876, the city of St. Louis voted to succeed from St. Louis county and become an independent city, and industrial production continued to increase during the late 19th century.
Let’s fast forward a little bit. Our city produced a number of notable people including Tennessee Williams and T.S. Eliot. Corporations such as Anheuser-Busch and Ralston Purina were established. St. Louis is the site of an early skyscraper, The Wainwright Building. In 1904, we hosted the 1904 World’s Fair and the 1904 Summer Olympics. The proceeds from these large events provided the city with Forest Park, the Missouri History Museum, and the St. Louis Art Museum!
Discrimination in housing and employment were common in St. Louis, and starting in the 1910, 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 originated as a lawsuit in St. Louis. However, de jure educational segregation continued into the 1950′s, and de facto segregation continued into the 1970′s, leading to a court challenge and inter-district desegregation agreement.
Although our city is faced with the many challenges of our world, its residents seem to have a deep pride about their hometown, St. Louis. Whether you were born and raised here or “settled” in St. Louis from another state, this city quickly becomes your home. Our visitors and friends travel from near and far to visit the St. Louis Zoo, take in a Cardinal baseball game, eat at Crown Candy, see what this guy Ted Drewes is all about, or to just stand beneath the Arch and gaze at the mighty Mississippi river!
I was born and raised here and I love this town. If you haven’t been to my city or had a chance to visit lately, add it to your bucket list! We have so much to offer, and I would love for you to “Meet Me In St. Louis”, meet me at the fair!
Happy 249th Birthday St. Louis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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