Economic History of St. Louis

Topics: St. Louis, Missouri, Mississippi River, Missouri Pages: 5 (1845 words) Published: December 4, 2006
Davey Oetting
History of St. Louis
St. Louis was acquired from France by the United States under President Thomas Jefferson in 1803, as part of the Louisiana Purchase. It was founded by the French in 1764 when Auguste Chouteau established a fur-trading post and Pierre Laclède Liguest, a New Orleans merchant, founded a town at the present site. They named it after King Louis XV of France and his patron saint, Louis IX. From 1770 to 1803, St. Louis was a Spanish possession, but it was ceded back to France in 1803 in accordance with the Treaty of San Ildefonso (1800), only to be acquired by the U.S. as part of the Louisiana Purchase later that year. The town was incorporated in 1809. From 1812 to 1821, St. Louis was the capital of the Missouri Territory, and it was incorporated as a city in 1822. John Jacob Astor opened the Western branch of the American Fur Company in 1819, and the city prospered during the early part of the 19th century as a commercial center for the fur trade. St. Louis continued to grow as a major transportation hub with the development of steamboat traffic and the later expansion of the railroads in the 1850s. This transportation boom led to the immigrant influx in the mid 1800s. The world-famous Louisiana Purchase Exposition was held here in 1904 which brought high demand for many products, making St. Louis turn into a manufacturing city. It is important to the city's economy, and its highly developed industries include, aircraft and space technology, beer, and food processing. All of these events led to the creation and the progress of the city of St. Louis. St. Louis was quickly a prominent city in the Midwest sharing its power with Chicago for most productive city. St. Louis leaders were passively conservative and depended upon St. Louis' superior location, whereas Chicago leaders were more astute and aggressively developed the potential of the railroads. Rail provided year-round transport while river travel was impossible five months of the year. St. Louis aligned itself with New Orleans for the competition with Chicago, but New Orleans began to focus on cotton and the South rather than the river trade of the Midwest. The Civil War closed the lower Mississippi. This hindered the growth of St. Louis, but still because of the location, the different events, the influx of immigrants, and some major manufacturing companies, the city was able to grow. St. Louis was the start of the movement westward because of its proximity to the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. This location also issued in another era as well as "manifest destiny." The steamboat era began in St. Louis on July 27, 1817, with the arrival of the Zebulon M. Pike. Rapids north of the city made St. Louis the northernmost navigable port for many large boats, and Pike and her sisters soon transformed St. Louis into a bustling boom town, commercial center, and inland port. By the 1850s, St. Louis had become the largest U.S. city west of Pittsburgh, and the second-largest port in the country, with a commercial tonnage exceeded only by New York. With the astronomical new growth in water transport, the connection that St. Louis has with the not only the north and south with the Mississippi, but also the east and west with connecting rivers, St. Louis's economy boomed. St. Louis continues to be a major port connecting all points in the United States. The city has several common nicknames in addition to "River City" (as explained above), including the "Gateway City". It is called "Gateway to the West" because of the many people who moved west starting near St. Louis; first, because the lower Missouri River was the first leg of the Oregon Trail, and later, because of wagon trails. The nationalistic idea, conceived in the 1840s, was the "manifest destiny" of the United States to expand westward to the Pacific. This pushed the demand curve for supplies and housing way to the right, creating jobs and boosting the economy for the...

Bibliography: Bezold, Bryan "St. Louis Commerce" Online. Internet. WWW Page.
George J. Borjas, "Friends or Strangers: The Impact of Immigrants on the U.S. Economy" (New York: Basic Books, 1990).
Lass, William E. "Tourist 's Impressions of St. Louis - 1766 -1859." Missouri Historical Review, Columbia, Mo., July-October, 1958
"Missouri Historical Museum" Online. Internet WWW Page.
"Mound City on the Mississippi" Online. Internet. WWW Page.
Reavis, L. U. "St. Louis, The Future Great City of the World." Gray and Beyer Co., 1875.
Scharf, J. T. "History of St. Louis City and County," Louis H. Everts Co. Philadelphia, 1883.
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