Downtown St. Louis is the
central business district of St. Louis, Missouri, 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
to the east, and Cole St. to the north. The downtown is
the site of many corporate headquarters including Wachovia Securities
, Stifel Nicolaus
a host of other companies.
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 an excellent fur trading post, immune to most floods
and defensible against any hostile Native Americans
to its high bluffs and forest. Laclede also found the present day
area the perfect place to run a
bustling fur trade.
early days Laclede acted as the de facto leader of St. Louis, and
although the settlement was named after King Louis IX of France, most
residents called it "Laclede Village."
Laclede planned 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'
By 1776 St. Louis had 300 residents and almost 75
buildings. By 1804 the population had tripled to 900, yet the
village was still without a local government. As the years passed,
a flood of American immigrants came to the village, and as these
newcomers established an American system of government, and French
influence began to wane.
arrival of the steamboat 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 15,000
inhabitants, yet it still did not have basic institutions, such as
banks, libraries or public schools. By now the downtown streets had
shed their French names and began to reflect the American settlers.
By the mid 1800s the area was becoming more commercial than
residential, and more people began to move to the western parts of
The commercial activity of St. Louis was centered on Main
street(present day First street) Washington Avenue
, and Walnut Street
. However the
St. Louis Fire
destroyed much of this district. In time the city recovered from
the fire and regained its place as one of the commercial centers of
. 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 its
heyday the downtown was a bustling center of commerce; however, by
the mid 20th century the downtown area began to decline. During the
1970s dozens of historic builds were razed and replaced by parking
lots. Also, in 2004, the historic St. Louis
Century Building was demolished to create a parking deck.
present day downtown has moved further south, yet the Historic downtown
other recent preservation efforts have been effective.
Both major universities in St. Louis began in the downtown region.
University was founded in 1818 by Bishop DuBourg, who rented a
stone house on Market Street to house its first class.
University was discontinued in 1826 because of Bishop DuBourg's
pastoral duties, but the institution was rejuvenated two years
later by Father Van Quickenborne. The university expanded greatly,
constructing numerous buildings (the University moved to its
present location in 1888). Washington University was 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 George Washington's
The first school opened on its downtown campus at
17th Street and Washington Avenue was the Smith Academy in 1856.
This original building was soon followed by the buildings for other
departments. Like St. Louis University Washington University relocated from the downtown
area in 1904.
After World War II, St. Louis, like many other American urban
centers, began to experience economic decline, heavy population
loss, and a high crime rate. However, since the early 1990s the
downtown area has been the subject of 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. Recently, the population has grown for the first time in 40
years, and numerous residential and commercial units are being
Government and infrastructure
The United States Postal
operates the St. Louis Main Post Office at 1720 Market
Street in Downtown St. Louis.Also located in the downtown
neighborhood, the St. Louis City Hall at 1200 Market Street.
is headquartered in Downtown St.
Louis. Hardee's moved to Downtown St. Louis in 2001. Nestlé Purina PetCare
are headquartered in Downtown St. Louis..
In 1999, prior to its merger with American Airlines
, Trans World Airlines
in One City Centre at 515 North 6th Street.In 2006, John Steffen,
owner of One City Centre, announced that he planned to redevelop it
into a mixed-use building called 600 Washington. Prior to a 2005
merger with Federated
was headquartered in Downtown.