Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/St Louis (Missouri)

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ST LOUIS, a city of the United States, chief city of the State of Missouri, is situated on the west bank of the Mississippi river, 20 miles below its confluence with the Missouri river and 200 miles above the influx of the Ohio, in 38° 38' 3".6 N. lat. and 90° 12' 17" W. long. It is distant by river about 1200 miles from New Orleans, and 729 from St Paul at the head of navigation on the Mississippi, and occupies a position near the centre of the great basin through which the mingled flood of the Mississippi and Missouri and their extensive system of tributaries is carried to the Gulf of Mexico. The site embraces a series of undulations extending westwards with a general direction nearly parallel to the river, which at this point makes a wide curve to the east. The extreme length in a straight line is 17 miles, the greatest width 6.60 miles, the length of river front 19.15 miles, and the area (including considerable territory at present suburban in character) 62½ square miles. The elevation of the city directrix above the waters of the Gulf of Mexico is 428 feet, that of the highest point of ground in the city above the directrix is 203 feet; the extreme high-water mark above the directrix is 7 feet 7 inches, and the extreme low-water mark below the same is 33 feet 9¾ inches. The elevated site of the city prevents any serious interruption of business by high water, even in seasons of unusual floods.

EB9 St Louis - central layout.jpg

Fig. 1.—Plan of St Louis (Central Part).

1. Four Courts.    7. Union Depot.
2. City Hall.    8. First Presbyterian Church.
3. Exposition Building.    9. Temple of the Gates of Truth.
4. Custom House.  10. St Peter and Paul Church.
5. Washington University.   11. Lindell Hotel.
6. Court House.  12. Southern Hotel.

The plan of the city is rectilinear, the ground being laid out in blocks about 300 feet square, with the general direction of street lines north-south and east-west. The wharf or river front is known as the Levee or Front Street, the next street west is Main Street, and the next Second, and thence the streets going north-south are, with few exceptions, in numerical order (Third, Fourth, &c.). Fifth Street has recently been named Broadway. The east-west streets bear regular names (Chestnut, Pine, Washington, Franklin, and the like). Market Street is regarded as the middle of the city, and the numbering on the intersecting streets commences at that line, north and south respectively. One hundred house numbers are allotted to each block, and the blocks follow in numerical order. The total length of paved streets in St Louis is 316 miles, of unpaved streets and roads 427, total 743 miles. In the central streets, subject to heavy traffic, the pavement is of granite blocks; wood, asphalt, and limestone blocks and Telford pavements are also used. There are nearly 300 miles of macadamized streets, including the roadways in the new limits. The length of paved alleys is about 66 miles. The city has an extensive sewer system (total length 223 miles), and, owing to the elevation of the residence and business districts above the river, the drainage is admirable. The largest sewer, Mill Creek (20 feet wide and 15 feet high), runs through the middle of the city, from west to east, following the course of a stream that existed in earlier days. The water-supply is derived from the Mississippi; the water is pumped into settling basins at Bissell's Point, and thence into the distributing pipes, the surplus flowing to the storage reservoir on Compton Hill, which has a capacity of 60,000,000 gallons. The length of water-pipe is nearly 250 miles; the capacity of the low-service engines which pump the water into the settling basins is 56,000,000 gallons in twenty-four hours, and that of the high-service engines which supply the distributing system 70,000,000 gallons. The average daily consumption in twenty-four hours is nearly 28,000,000 gallons. The works, which are owned by the city, cost over $6,000,000. Among the more important public buildings are the new custom-house and post-office, erected at a cost of over $5,000,000; the merchants' exchange, which contains a grand hall 221 feet 10 inches in length by 62 feet 10 inches in width and 60 feet in height; the court-house, where the civil courts hold their sessions; the four courts and jail, in which building are the headquarters of the police department and the chambers of the criminal courts; the cotton exchange; the new exposition and music-hall building on Olive Street, erected by public subscription; and the Crow Museum of Fine Arts. The present city-hall is a large but hardly ornamental edifice. The mercantile library, on Fifth and Locust Streets, contains nearly 65,000 volumes and also a valuable art collection. The public school library in the polytechnic building has about 55,000 volumes. There are six handsome theatres and various other smaller places of amusement. The public school system of St Louis includes the kindergarten (for which St Louis has become somewhat celebrated), the grammar-schools (including eight grades, of a year each), and a high school, besides the normal school and a school for deaf mutes. The public schools naturally absorb much the largest number of pupils; but the parochial schools and the private schools gathered about the Washington university are also much frequented. The number of pupils in 1883-84 was in the normal school 64, high school 783, grammar-schools 52,280, total in day schools 53,127; total in day and evening schools 56,366. The total number of public school buildings is 104, and the value of property used for school purposes $3,229,148; all the school edifices are substantial and convenient, and many architecturally attractive. The receipts of the public school system for 1884 were $941,332, and the total expenditure $934,609, the amount paid to teachers being $632,873. Of parochial schools there are about 75. The Washington and St Louis universities are old and well-established institutions. There are also the Mary Institute and the manual training school, both connected with Washington university, the college of the Christian Brothers, convent seminaries, and numerous medical colleges. In addition there are art schools, singing and gymnastic societies, and other similar organizations and establishments. There are published in St Louis four daily newspapers in English and four in German, and also a number of weekly publications.

There are 16 Baptist churches, 8 Congregational, 13 Episcopal, 25 German Evangelical and Lutheran, 6 Hebrew congregations, 18 Methodist Episcopal, 8 Methodist Episcopal Church (South), 25 Presbyterian, 45 Roman Catholic, and 3 Unitarian. Many of the buildings are of imposing proportions, built of stone, massive in character, and with lofty spires. The Roman Catholic cathedral, built in 1830, is the oldest church now in use. On the high ground in the central-western portion of the city (Stoddard's Addition) will be found most of the costly church buildings, whilst in the northern and southern portions of the city there are very few indeed.

The parks and squares of St Louis number 19, covering nearly 2100 acres. Tower Grove Park, in the south-western suburbs, containing about 266 acres, was presented by Mr Henry Shaw. The smaller parks are situated to the east of Grand Avenue, and the driving parks in the suburbs,—O'Fallon Park (158 acres) at the northern extremity of the city, Forest Park (1372 acres) west of the central portion, Tower Grove in the south-west, and Carondelet (180 acres) in the south. In the immediate vicinity of Tower Grove Park are the Missouri Botanical Gardens, established by Mr Henry Shaw, and containing the most extensive botanical collection in the United States. In addition to the parks, the Fair Grounds in the north-west should be mentioned, where the annual fair is held, and where there is a permanent zoological department. An amphitheatre, capable of seating between 20,000 and 30,000 spectators, and a race-course with a most elaborate grand stand, are among the other features. There are various beer-gardens in the city, largely frequented as pleasure-resorts. There are about 1 20 miles of street railways in operation.

The following table shows the population of St Louis at different periods:—

1799 925
1810 1,400
1820 4,928
1830 5,862
1840 16,469
1850 74,439
1856 125,200
1866 204,327
1870 (United States census)  310,864
1880 350,518

The figures of the United States census are strictly confined to municipal limits, and do not include the residents of East St Louis and of various suburban localities, properly a part of the city population. In 1880 the population (179,520 males, 170,998 females) was divided as follows: native, 245,505; foreign-born, 105,013. Of the latter 36,309 came from Great Britain (28,536 Irish) and 54,901 from Germany. The death-rate per thousand in 1882 was 19.6, in 1883 it was 20.4, and in 1885 (population being estimated at 400,000) it was 19.7.

The police force, including detectives and employés, numbers

about 500 men. The fire brigade numbers 250 men, with 22 engine-houses. The city has three public hospitals, an asylum for the insane, a poorhouse, a workhouse for the confinement and employment of prisoners charged with petty offences, and a house of refuge which is a reformatory institution for juvenile offenders and for the education of children thrown upon the care of the city by abandonment or otherwise. The number of asylums, hospitals, and

other institutions supported by private charity is very large.

EB9 St Louis - city and vicinity.jpg

Fig. 2.—St Louis and environs.

Government and Finance.—St Louis is not included in any county

of the State, but exists as a separate municipality. It was formerly embraced in St Louis county, and was within the jurisdiction and taxing power of a city and county government. The State constitution was revised in 1875 and two years later the separation of the city and the county government was effected, the former being reorganized under the present charter. The city levies and collects municipal and State revenues within its limits, and manages its own affairs, free from all outside control, except that of the legislature of the State. The voters of the city have the right to amend the charter at intervals of two years at a general or special election, provided the proposed amendments have been duly sanctioned and submitted to the people by the municipal assembly. The legislative power of the city is in the hands of a council and a house of delegates, styled collectively the municipal assembly. The council is composed of thirteen members, elected for four years by the voters of the city generally, and the house of delegates consists of one member from each of the twenty-eight wards, elected for two years. The following officers are elected for a term of four years: mayor, comptroller, auditor, treasurer, registrar, collector, recorder of deeds, inspector of weights and measures, sheriff, coroner, marshal,

public administrator, president of the board of assessors, and
president of the board of public improvements. The elective officers,

including the members of the board of public improvements, are nominated by the mayor and approved by the council, and the appointments are made at the beginning of the third year of the mayor's term, so as to remove the distribution of municipal patronage from the influences of a general city election. The power of the mayor and council touching appointments to office and removals is subject to certain reciprocal checks.

The bonded debt of St Louis at the close of the fiscal year, 13th April 1885, was $22,016,000. This debt is reduced each year by the operation of the sinking fund. The city has no floating debt. The receipts for the fiscal year ending 13th April 1885, deducting proceeds of revenue bonds and special deposits, were $5,659,086, or with balance in treasury at opening of year $6,514,877. The total expenditure was $5,681,557. The city tax rate for the year 1884 was $1.75 on the $100. During the last few years the rate of interest on the bonded debt has been reduced from 6 and 7 per cent. to 5 per cent., and more recently to 4 per cent. Most of the outstanding bonds are held in England and Germany. All appropriations are rigidly limited to the available means, and the increase of the bonded debt is forbidden by law. In 1860 the taxable valuation was $69,846,845, in 1870 it was $147,969,660, in 1880 160,493,000, and in 1885 $207,910,350.

Commerce.—Subjoined are a few of the more important facts and figures respecting the commerce of St Louis. In 1884 there were 6,440,787 tons of freight received by rail and 520,350 by river, making a total of 6,961,137 tons. In the same year there were shipped by rail 3,611,419 tons and by river 514,910 tons (total 4,126,329). The total receipts of grain for 1884, including wheat reduced to flour, were 52,776,832 bushels, as against 51,983,494 bushels in the previous year. During 1884 the amount of flour manufactured was 1,960,737 barrels, and the amount that changed hands 4,757,079 barrels; 302,534 bales of cotton, 19,426 hogsheads of tobacco, and 118,484,220 ℔ of sugar were received; and 193,875,479 ℔ of pork in various forms were shipped. There are thirteen tobacco manufactories, with a production in 1884 of 22,631,104 ℔. In live stock, lumber, hides, wool, salt, lead, and a long list of other commodities the business is large and increasing. Extensive stock-yards are established in the northern part of the city, and also in East St Louis, where they are known as the national stock-yards, and cover a space of over 600 acres. In 1884 there were imported—cattle, 450,717; sheep, 380,822; pigs, 1,474,475; horses and mules, 41,870. The shipments in the same year were—cattle, 315,433; sheep, 248,545; pigs, 678,874; horses and mules, 39,544. There are twelve grain elevators, with a total capacity for bulk grain of 10,950,000 bushels and 415,000 sacks. The coal received during the year amounted to 52,349,600 bushels. The foreign value of imports for the year was $2,586,876, and the collections at the custom-house were $1,463,495.

Among the more important manufactures may be mentioned those of iron and steel, glass, flour, sugar, beer, bagging, prepared foods, tobacco, boots and shoes, furniture, planed and sawed lumber, wire and wire-work, carriages and waggons, foundry and machine-shop products, hardware, agricultural implements, &c. Meat packing is also an important industry. The summary of manufactures in the United States census of 1880 shows 2924 establishments, having a capital of $50,832,885; amount paid in wages during the year, $17,743,532; value of materials, $75,379,867; value of products, $114,333,375. These figures ought probably to be largely increased now (1886). In the wholesale grocery trade St Louis is ahead of nearly all the inland cities of the Union. There are between twenty and thirty wholesale houses, and it is estimated that the annual sales exceed $30,000,000. The Belcher sugar-refinery is able to turn out 1200 barrels a day. The capital employed in the wholesale and retail dry goods establishments is estimated at between $10,000,000 and $12,000,000, and the annual amount of business at $35,000,000 to $40,000,000. The brewing business of St Louis has had an astonishing development, and its product is shipped to all parts of the world. It employs over $8,000,000 of capital, and pays out in wages over $2,000,000 per annum. The ale and beer shipments during 1884 numbered 1,834,545 packages. The brick-making industry has recently become important, and the hard red brick for building and the fire brick produced in St Louis are among the best to be found in the United States. In 1884 there were eighteen State banks and six national banks representing—capital and surplus, $14,742,123; savings and time deposits, $9,102,021; current deposits, $29,000,691; circulation, $674,150; total, $53,518,985. The clearings for 1884 amount to $785,202,177, and the balances to $125,260,945, making a total of $910,463,122.

Railways.—St Louis is one of the most important railroad centres in the United States; the nineteen lines which ran trains into the Union depot represent nearly 20,000 miles of railway. The Union passenger depot, contiguous to the business centre of the city, is connected with the bridge over the Mississippi by a tunnel. The buildings are of a temporary character, and are not adequate to the enormous business transacted; a new depôt of

imposing proportions is now in contemplation. Over 150
passenger trains arrive and depart daily. The tunnel already referred to

commences a few hundred yards east of the Union depôt. It has double tracks throughout its length, which is about 1 mile, and is supplied with electric lights, ventilating shafts, and the best appliances for safety and convenience. It is leased by the Wabash, St Louis, and Pacific and the Missouri Pacific Railroad Companies, which are also the lessees of the bridge. The bridge across the Mississippi river at St Louis is one of the most remarkable structures in the world in character and magnitude. It consists of three arches, the two side spans being 502 feet in the clear and the centre span 520 feet, and carries a roadway for ordinary traffic 54 feet wide and below this two lines of rail. The dimensions of the

abutments and piers are as follows:—
Dimensions at
Dimensions at
 Height from 
 foundation to 
top of M.
low water.

 Length.   Thickness.   Length.   Thickness. 

 ft.   in. 
70 6
60 0
48 0
 62   8½ 
 ft.   in. 
 64   3½ 
63 0
63 0
 ft.   in. 
47 6
24 0
24 0
47 6
 ft.   in. 
192 9
 112   8½ 
 ft.   in. 
 93   3¼ 
 East abutment 83
 East pier 82
 West pier 82
 West abutment  94
The foundations of abutments and piers rest on solid rock. The

two piers and the east abutment were sunk by means of pneumatic caissons. The greatest depth below the surface at which work was done was 110 feet, the air-pressure in the caisson being 49 ℔. Each arch consists of four equal ribs; each rib is composed of two circular members, 12 feet apart, which are connected by a single system of diagonal braces. The circular members consist of steel tubes, which are 12 feet long and 18 inches in diameter; each tube is composed of 6 steel staves, varying in thickness between 1+316 and 2+18 inches. These staves are held together by a steel envelope, a quarter of an inch thick. The tubes are joined together by couplings, and the end tubes are rigidly connected with wrought-iron skewbacks, which are fixed to the masonry by long bolts. The arches were erected without using any false work. Work on the bridge was commenced March 1868, and it was opened for traffic on 4th July 1874. The total cost of bridge and approaches was $6,536,730. The traffic across the bridge is rapidly developing. In 1876 the gross earnings were $448,447 (loaded waggons, 45,027; railway passengers, 496,686); in 1884 the gross earnings were $1,520,483 (loaded waggons, 172,730; railway passengers, 1,333,360); a total of 2,225,994 tons was carried; and the total number of cars which

crossed the bridge was 472,324.
History.—The first permanent settlement on the site of St Louis

was made in February 1764, and was in the nature of a trading post, established by Pierre Laclede Liguest. Long prior to this event there had been some exploration of the vast regions of the Mississippi and its tributaries by Marquette, Joliet, La Salle, Hennepin, and others; but, although a few widely separated military and trading posts had been established, there was no accurate knowledge of the character and resources of the country. Laclede's expedition was nearly contemporaneous with the treaty of Paris, 1763, by which the title of France to the regions in the valley of the Mississippi was practically extinguished, Spain becoming owner of all Louisiana west of the Mississippi, and England of all territory east of that river, excepting New Orleans. The few French forts north of the Ohio were nominally surrendered to the English, including Vincennes, Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Fort de Chartres; but there was no immediate formal assertion of English control, and French sentiments and manners and customs remained undisturbed. In 1771 St Louis was formally occupied by a small body of Spanish troops, commanded by Don Pedro Piernas, and a period of somewhat over thirty years of Spanish rule followed, during which few local events of noteworthy character occurred. On 25th May 1780—the festival of Corpus Christi—the post, or village, was attacked by Indians, and about thirty of the citizens were killed; but the savages were beaten off and did not renew the attack. In 1800 Spain ceded back to France all her territory of Louisiana, and three years later—30th April 1803—France ceded to the United States all her right, title, and interest in the territory for eighty million francs. At this time St Louis and the adjacent districts had a population of not over 3000, and the total population of Upper Louisiana was between 8000 and 9000, including 1300 Negroes. There were not over 200 houses in the embryo city, which consisted mainly of two streets parallel to the river. For fifty or sixty years after the landing of Laclede the progress of the town was necessarily slow. In 1810 the population was less than 1500, and in 1830 it had not reached 6000. From the latter date progress became steady and rapid, and the real growth of the city was compressed within half a century. An extensive conflagration occurred in 1849, which destroyed most of the business houses on the Levee and Main Street. During the Civil War the commercial advancement of St Louis was seriously retarded; but the city continued to expand in population owing to its advantageous geographical


(D. H. M‘A.)