St. Louis, Missouri: The Gateway to the West
When you think of St. Louis, it is easy to get lost in thoughts of Budweiser beer and Cardinals baseball. However, the city is full of historical venues that date back to Lewis and Clark’s expedition to the American west. Straddling the Mississippi River, St. Louis is currently Missouri’s second largest city and home to 318,416 people.
Well-known for its music, sports and beer, St. Louis is a modern American city that has kept ahold of its midwest sensibilities. While there is always something to do in the city, there is also plenty of space to relax in. Did we mention the beer and sports?
St. Louis Skyline via wikipedia.
A brief history of St. Louis
St. Louis was founded by fur trapper Pierre Laclede Liguest in 1764. Liguest named the settlement after Louis IX of France. The French settlers had navigated the Mississippi River north where they hoped to establish a new trading post.
For the next 40 years, St. Louis grew from a trading post into a village of less than 1000 people. In that time the area traded hands from the French to the Spanish and back to the French in 1801, thanks to a secret treaty between the two countries. However, two years later, the United States – still in its infancy – bought the land that made up the Louisiana Territory for $15 million.
The city began seeing massive waves of immigration by the mid-1800s as Irish and German immigrants made their way to the burgeoning city. Germans were intrigued by claims that St. Louis was an “American Rhineland”.
St. Louis was also a stopping off point for those settlers heading west. Often many stayed in the city after spending a few days there rather than moving on to the unknown along the many trails that took settlers into the western part of the US.
Since those early days, St. Louis has been a major American city regardless of economic prosperity or hardship. To this day, St. Louis is still the Gateway to the West.
Where to go in St. Louis, Missouri
A trip to St. Louis wouldn’t be complete without seeing the city’s three most recognizable sites. Those sites give St. Louis much of its charm and keep people coming back year after year.
Since 1852, Anheuser-Busch has been brewing beer in St. Louis. The brewer’s oldest and largest factory sits near the Mississippi River. The original symbol of St. Louis has tours throughout the day and is well worth visiting during a trip to the city.
Baseball is not just a game in St. Louis, but a religion; and anyone born in the city is automatically a Cardinals fan. While tickets may be hard to come by during a pennant race, there is nothing like a summer evening at Busch Stadium sipping a cold Budweiser beer and eating a hotdog.
Gateway ArchThe St. Louis Arch is a beloved landmark that has seen visitors from around the world travel up its elevators to the top for a panoramic view of the city. Opened to the public in 1967, the Arch receives over four million visitors each year.
Other places to see in St. Louis
St. Louis Zoo
The St. Louis Zoo is a favorite of locals for its open, green spaces and free admission. The zoo has been open since 1904 when the city hosted the World’s Fair. Visitors can see a diverse group of animals at the zoo including rhinos, penguins and red kangaroos.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Just outside the city, history lovers can see the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. The park covers 3.5 sq. miles and dates back to 1000 years before Europeans arrived in the area. The mounds are remnants of a sophisticated native civilization that once lived in the area. Today, the park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and visitors can walk up the mounds to view the remains of the ancient civilization’s settlement.
Did you know…?
St. Louis is one of the most famous professional wrestling towns in the world. Long before the WWE was the dominate wrestling company in the world, St. Louis played host to some of the world’s biggest stars at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel. From 1959 until 1983, Wrestling at the Chase was a St. Louis institution and featured names like Ric Flair, Harley Race and Lou Thesz.
St. Louis also saw a number of historic National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight title changes. The NWA World Championship belt changed hands five times in St. Louis, with the last taking place in August 1986 when Ric Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes to win the title for a fourth time.
What to eat in St. Louis
With St. Louis’ long history of immigration, the city has a variety of mouth watering foods to eat. From southern favorites to foods that come from German settlers, St. Louis has plenty to savor when in town.
St. Louis style pizza
The city is known for its take on the world’s most popular food. True St. Louis pizza is made with a cracker crust, giving the pizza a thin and crispy feel. The square pizza is always topped with Provel cheese, a hybrid of Swiss, cheddar and provolone.
St. Louis claims to be the home of deep fried ravioli. The bitesize toasted morsels are said to have been invented as an accident when a chef knocked a bowl of ravioli into a deep fryer. Dipped in marinara sauce, toasted ravioli is a St. Louis favorite.
It isn’t just frozen custard, it’s Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, a staple in the St. Louis area. Drewes is home to the original concrete, which can be found at other competing custard chains around America today. Opened in 1941, Drewes only has three location in the city and the locally owned chain has refused to go nationwide for years.
Named in 1973, the Gerber sandwich is a local number that has been duplicated by restaurants all over the US. Made with Italian bread topped with garlic butter, ham, provolone cheese, paprika and toasted, the Gerber has been pleasing locals for over 40 years.
About the Author: Drew Farmer
Traveling and sports have been my life for some time. Over the years, I have written for many sports websites and magazines, mostly about soccer, while traveling the world to see matches. Through my work in soccer, I have be able to see the world, and written about my journeys. An author, journalist and traveller, I am interested in continually writing about my experiences. Twitter @DrewMFarmer