Gate­way to the West

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DESTINATIONS -

St. Louis was es­tab­lished in 1764 by the French and named in hon­our of Louis IX, who is best known for lead­ing two cru­sades af­ter be­com­ing King of France in 1226 at age 11. The set­tle­ment grew rapidly when the 1763 Treaty of Paris gave land east of the Mis­sis­sippi River to the Bri­tish, re­sult­ing in many French and FrenchCana­di­ans mov­ing across to the west side of the river. The area came un­der Span­ish ju­ris­dic­tion in 1770, but briefly re­turned to French con­trol just prior to be­ing sold in 1803 to the United States as part of the Louisiana Pur­chase. With a strate­gic lo­ca­tion near the con­flu­ence of the Mis­souri and Mis­sis­sippi rivers, two of the coun­try’s great trans­porta­tion routes, St. Louis be­came a ma­jor fur-trading cen­tre and an im­por­tant stop for trap­pers and oth­ers mov­ing west. Although fur trading had suf­fered a ma­jor de­cline by the early 1840s, the lo­ca­tion of St. Louis al­lowed it to con­tinue as an im­por­tant river port. The city’s pop­u­la­tion grew as it be­came a des­ti­na­tion for many im­mi­grants, es­pe­cially the Ir­ish and Ger­mans, and by 1850 it had be­come the sec­ond largest port in the coun­try. The city’s pop­u­la­tion had reached 160,000 by the be­gin­ning of the Civil War. Fol­low­ing the war, the city be­gan a pe­riod of sus­tained de­vel­op­ment as eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity com­menced its west­ward march. The city ex­pe­ri­enced growth in fi­nan­cial ser­vices, man­u­fac­tur­ing and brew­eries, all of which was fa­cil­i­tated by ex­panded rail con­nec­tions. The city was home to 500,000 peo­ple by 1904 when it hosted both the World’s Fair and Sum­mer Olympics.

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