Before St. Louis existed, the area belonged to the Illini Confederacy, a group of several Native American tribes who lived in the Mississippi River Valley. When the French first arrived, it is estimated that there were 20,000 Native Americans. Sadly, European colonization and diseases led to a significant reduction in their numbers.
In 1764, St. Louis was nothing but a fur trading post. Pierre Laclede Liguest and Auguste Chouteau, Liguest’s 13-year-old scout, had selected the area for the trading post, and the King of France had granted Pierre Laclede Liguest the land. As a show of respect, Liguest named the trading post after Louis IX of France. In 1770, France transferred the trading post to the Spanish. When the United States made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, St. Louis came into its possession.
St. Louis became famous after the Louisiana Purchase Expedition. It was the starting point for Lewis and Clark’s expedition. In 1823, the United States officially recognized St. Louis as a city. St. Louis’ population grew tremendously during 1840 and 1860 as immigrants arrived in the city in search of a new life. Most immigrants who settled in St. Louis were German or Irish. This was because of the Irish Potato Famine and the German Revolution taking place. Later settlers included Serbians, Syrians, Greeks, and Italians who came to St. Louis after the Civil War.
In 1904, St. Louis hosted the World’s Fair and Olympic games. Over twenty million people visited the World’s Fair during the seven-month period it was running. As automobiles became more popular, St. Louis became home to the first gasoline station and automobile accident in the country. This is likely because of how congested downtown St. Louis was in the 1920s when the automobile accident took place.
St. Louis’ population exploded after World War II and by 1950, St. Louis’ population consisted of 856,000 people. The city became too crowded and people gradually began to move to the suburbs. The population of St. Louis declined and in 1980, there were only 450,000 people in the city. You can read more about St. Louis’ history here, where we found all of our information.
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