Downtown St. Louis

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Downtown St. Louis is the central business district of St. Louis, the hub of tourism and entertainment and the anchor of the St. Louis Metropolitan area. The downtown is bounded by Interstate 64 to the south, Jefferson Ave. to the west, the river front to the east, and Cole St. to the north.

History

The earliest history of the downtown area of St. Louis is synonymous with the beginnings of the City. Pierre Laclede chose to found the city here because it was a excellent fur trading post, immune to most floods and defensible to against any hostile Native Americans, because of its high bluffs and forest, Laclede found the present day downtown area the prefect place to run a bustling fur trade.

In its early days Laclede acted as the De facto leader St. Louis, and although the settlement as named after King Louis IX of France most residents called it "Laclede village" Laclede planed out the format of the city streets, and oversaw the construction of the settlements first buildings. Although initial growth was slow, the settlement received a real stimulus when France surrendered all of its territorial holdings east of the Mississippi River to Great Britain after the Seven Years' War. By 1776 St. Louis had 300 residents and almost 75 buildings. By 1804 the population had tripled to 900, yet village was still without a local government. As the years passed a flood of America immigrants came to the village, these newcomers established an American system of government, and French influence began to wane.

With arrival of the steam boat in 1817, St. Louis became a vital center of American commerce able to trade goods from the Gulf of Mexico across America. By 1836 the City had 15,0000 inhabitants yet it still did not have basic intuitions, such as banks, library's or public schools. By now the downtown streets shed their French names and began to reflect the American settlers. By the mid 1800s the downtown, was becoming more commercial than residential, and more people began to move to the western parts of the city.

The commercial activity of St. Louis was centered around Main street(present day First street) Washington Avenue, and Walnut Street. However the White Cloud Fire of 1849 destroyed much of this district. In time the city recovered from the fire and regained its place as one of the commercial centers of the Midwest. During the late 19th and early 20th century, the St. Louis Downtown experienced a building boom largely because of a lack of room for businesses to expand. In in its heyday the downtown was a bustling center of commerce however by the mid 20th century the downtown began to decline. During the 1970s dozens of historic builds were razed and replaced by parking lots. The present day downtown has moved further south, yet the Historic downtown remains, and recent preservation efforts have been effective.

Both major universities in St. Louis began in the downtown region, St. Louis University, founded in 1818 by Bishop DuBourg rented a stone house on Market Street to house its first class. The University was discontinued in 1826 because of pastoral duties of Bishop DuBourg. But was rejuvenated two years late by Father Van Quickenborne. The university expanded greatly constructing numerous buildings but eventually relocated in 1888. Washington University founded as Eliot Seminary on February 22, 1853, and received its present name in 1857 at the insistence of its chancellor, William Greenleaf Eliot, because it was chartered on Washington's birthday. The first school opened on its downtown campus at 17th Street and Washington Avenue was the Smith Academy in 1856, soon followed by the buildings for other departments. Like St. Louis University Washington University relocated from the downtown in 1904.

After World War II St. Louis, like many other urban centers began to experience decline, heavy population loss an high crime plagued the city. However by the early 1990s the downtown has subject to urban renewal efforts. Over $3.3 billion dollars have been invested downtown between 1999 and 2005 and that number will grow to over $4 billion by the end of 2006. The population of the grew for the first in 40 years, and numerous residential and commercial units are being built.

Tallest Buildings

Tallest Buildings
Building Height Stories Year Completed
One Metropolitan Square 593ft 42 1989
AT&T Center 588ft 42 1986
Thomas F. Eagleton Courthouse 557 28 2000
One US Bank Plaza 484 35 1976
Laclede Gas Building 494 31 1969
Southwestern Bell Building 399 26 1926
Civil Courts Building 386 13 1991
Bank of America Plaza 384 31 1981
600 Washington 375 25 1986
Queeny Tower 321 19 1965
Park Plaza Apartments 310 27 1931
1010 Market Street 296 20 1982
Millenium Hotel 289 28 1968
Radisson Hotel & Suite 287 28 1965
Radisson Hotel & Suite 287 28 1965
The Gentry's Landing 287 28 1968

External Links

Map

Relative area of Downtown. <googlemap lat="38.630081" lon="-90.194235" zoom="14" width="700" controls="large">38.626996, -90.193248, USA</googlemap>

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