Happy 255th Birthday, St. Louis!
The settlement of St. Louis was founded on February 15, 1764, by French fur trader Pierre Laclede and his 13-year-old stepson Auguste Chouteau. In honor of the 255th anniversary of our beloved city’s founding, we’ve rounded up a few interesting facts about St. Louis, past and present.
- Louis is named for King Louis IX of France – hence, the King Louis statue in Forest Park!
- Laclede and Chouteau first discovered the land in the fall of 1763, as they traveled from New Orleans up the Mississippi River in search of a location ideal for Native American fur trading. With easy river access and situated on high land to decrease the risk of flooding, St. Louis became a hub for commerce and trading.
- In 1849, travelers passing through to the gold rush in California brought with them deadly cholera. The same year, a steamboat blew up and fire quickly spread into the city, destroying 15 blocks and causing $6.1 million in damage. As stone structures, the Old Courthouse and Old Cathedral were not destroyed, and St. Louis was rebuilt with brick and iron rather than wood.
- Louis was home to the 1904 World’s Fair. It was the last great international exhibition before World War I, and it featured hundreds of thousands of objects, people, displays, animals and publications from 62 exhibiting countries and 43 of the 45 states at the time, according to Missouri Digital Heritage.
- As any native St. Louisan will tell you, bakers and chefs from this town invented some of the greatest foods the world has to offer: toasted ravioli, gooey butter cake and provel cheese. And of course we can’t forget that the ice cream cone, hot dog and iced tea were all popularized during the 1904 World’s Fair. Yum!
- Louis boasts not one, but two, national parks: Gateway Arch National Park in Downtown St. Louis as well as Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site in South County.
- The Old Courthouse features the first cast iron dome ever built, according to Explore St. Louis. Speaking of the Old Courthouse, it housed one of the most important and historic cases ever tried in our nation: Dred Scott’s freedom trial in 1847.
- The Louis Symphony Orchestra – one of the most respected in the country – is the second oldest symphony in the United States.
At 255 years young, St. Louis is full of incredible history. To learn more, visit the Old Courthouse and the newly renovated Museum at the Gateway Arch (admission to both is free!). After soaking up all the St. Louis knowledge, take a Tram Ride to the Top for the best view of either side of the Mississippi.
Photo Credit: Fair Saint Louis / Roger Popwell