St. Louis is a city with a deep and vibrant history, and it has played an integral role in the growth of the United States. Founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclede Liguest and Auguste Chouteau, the city was chosen for its location that was not prone to flooding and was close to the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. It was named after Louis IX of France, and it quickly became the capital and gateway to the new territory. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the vast area, which began in St.
Louis in May 1804. Indigenous people in the region had constructed numerous temples and residential embankment mounds on both sides of the Mississippi River, with the Cahokia Mounds being the regional center. This earned St. Louis the nickname Mound City, although most of these mounds were destroyed during the city's development. Between 1840 and 1860, St. Louis experienced a population surge with the influx of many new immigrants, particularly Germans and Irish fleeing from revolutions and famine respectively.
The city was a strategic location during the American Civil War, but it remained firmly under Union control due to its loyal German influence. The tax reform of 1986 and recession of the late 1980s and early 1990s slowed growth considerably, but several major projects were completed such as the MetroLink light rail line, expansion of the Convention Center, Kiel Civic Center (blues hockey team), and Trans World Dome (Rams soccer team). The great Mississippi River flood of 1993 also caused some disruption to urban revitalization efforts. The Des Peres River is a drainage route that serves the western and southern parts of St. Louis, flowing into the Mississippi River. It has been prone to flooding over the years, but despite this St.
Louis has continued to expand. The arrival of steamships in 1817 made it a major river port, while other immigrants such as Italians, Serbs, Lebanese, Syrians, and Greeks settled in the late 19th century. Today, St. Louis is home to five Fortune 500 companies and many small businesses housed in its oldest industrial buildings. Its main industries are St.
Louis University hospitals, Anheuser-Busch brewery, Bank of America and Firstar Bank banking. In 1904, St. Louis hosted both the Louisiana Shopping Expo (also known as St. Louis World's Fair) in Forest Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase, as well as the 1904 Olympic Games. The Eads Bridge (1874; now a National Historic Landmark) connected railroads that crossed the Mississippi River. The city is also home to several cultural attractions such as the St.
Louis Symphony Orchestra (1880), an opera company, several theatrical organizations, Jefferson Expansion National Monument (built on the town's original plan), Gateway Arch (196), Westward Expansion Museum, Old Cathedral (Basilica of St. Louis King; 1831-1833), Old Palace of Justice (1839-1862; now converted into a museum), Aloe Plaza fountain by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles, Eugene Field's childhood home toy museum, and Forest Park.