Saint Louis, Missouri, frequently spelled St. Louis, encompasses an independent city in the U.S. state of Missouri and its metropolitan area the "Greater Saint Louis". Saint Louis is situated on the Mississippi River below the mouth of the Missouri.
St. Louis has long been a major industrial and transportation hub. It is a leading rail and trucking center, and its airport and river port are among the country's busiest.
St. Louis makes a stunning first
visual impression. It has a look that is all its own, of red brick and
cobblestone streets, terra cotta friezes and stained glass. The Mississippi
River laps against a cobblestone levee. Reflected in the mighty river are
towering office buildings, elegant shopping centers, hotels, and apartment
complexes, all well maintained, marking the visible signs of the city’s
Founded by the French in 1764 as
a fur-trading settlement on the west bank of the Mississippi River, St. Louis
was destined for immediate success. Settlers came from New Orleans, followed by
French-Canadian trappers. Next came the explorers, including the Lewis and
Clark expedition. Families traveling to the mysterious western regions of the
country passed through, and some settled in St. Louis. Railway workers arrived
in the 1850’s, among them immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Italy, and other
European countries. African-Americans settled there: some still slaves; others
freed. Their combined skills and crafts enriched the city and helped to mold
The construction of the 630 foot
Gateway Arch in the 1960’s was intended to bring recognition to St. Louis as
having been the “Gateway to the West” in those days of pioneer settlement. It
accomplished far more than the original intent, however. The Arch helped spark
the rebirth of downtown St. Louis, which until then had been abandoned in the
rush for the suburbs. What followed was one of the country’s largest urban
renewal projects and a billion dollar building boom, which resulted in the vital
and energetic city that is St. Louis today.
The historic homes and
businesses of St. Louis are beautiful reminders of the community's commitment to
restoration. From the old world Anheuser-Busch Brewery, to Federal row houses,
Greek revival mansions and country villas, the styles are stately and their
interiors are lovingly preserved.
St. Louis offers attractions of
interest to the whole family at a nominal cost. Admission to many of the
museums and historic sites is free! There is no charge, for example, to visit
the St. Louis Zoo. The public transportation system whisks visitors around the
city center easily and efficiently. For visits to the vast outlying areas, a
car is preferable.
Visitors can ride a tram to the
top of the Arch, and look out and watch the Mississippi River flow by the city
below. Follow this with a visit to the museum under the Arch and the nearby Old
Cathedral, the oldest church in St. Louis. Just across the street is the Old
Courthouse, the site of the Dred Scott trial.
In spring and summer, there is
always time to check out a Cardinals baseball game, and then visit the
International Bowling Hall of Fame across from the stadium. After the game, take
the family to one of the many excellent nearby restaurants for great Italian
cuisine. If you prefer French food, that is readily available also. Not far
away, the shopping is spectacular at St. Louis Centre, one of the country’s
largest urban malls, and also at the completely restored Union Station.
In Forest Park, visit the Saint
Louis Art Museum, the Zoo, the Muny Opera and the Science Center, with life-size
animated dinosaurs, hands-on exhibits, and an Omnimax Theater. Nearby is the
historic Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, which houses one of the world's
largest collections of mosaic art.
For a night on the town, take in
Grand Center arts and entertainment. Enjoy a concert by the world class St.
Louis Symphony Orchestra. Visit the “Fabulous Fox” Theatre and the St. Louis
Black Repertory Company. Then head for one of St. Louis’ many pubs,
microbreweries, or a riverboat casino.
Allow time in your schedule for
a stroll through St. Louis’ historic neighborhoods of Laclede's Landing, Soulard,
The Hill, and Central West End. All of these are places for good shopping and
fine food. Visit the historic Scott Joplin House to get a sense of ragtime
music's beginnings. Children will be delighted by Grant's Farm, The Magic House,
the City Museum and the Children’s Zoo.
Eureka, on I-44, is best known
for Six Flags St. Louis, an immense family theme park and the accompanying
Hurricane Harbor Water Park.
Father west on I-70 is the old
French village of St. Charles with its Lewis & Clark Center, First Missouri
State Capitol Building, restored riverfront historic district, an authentic
showboat, and a casino. About 20 miles southwest of St. Charles on Highways 94
and F (near Defiance) is the Daniel Boone Home, where the Boone family settled
in the late 1790s.
Highway 94 then winds west
through the river hills to the German towns of Augusta, Dutzow and Berger, with
their wonderful wineries.
Within a two-hour
drive of downtown St. Louis, you can experience living history in restored towns
and villages, visit Mark Twain's boyhood home and Abraham Lincoln's final
resting place, explore enormous caves, canoe on clear rivers and sample
Missouri's finest wines. This is just a small sample of what makes St. Louis
one of America's greatest vacation destinations!
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