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Saint Louis is the second-largest city in Missouri, United States. It sits near the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers. Saint Louis has a population of 301,578, while the Saint Louis metropolitan area has an estimated population of over 2.8 million.
Before European settlement, the area was a regional center of Native American Mississippian culture. St. Louis was founded on February 14, 1764, by French fur traders Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent, Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau, who named St. Loui after King Louis IX of France. In 1764, following France's defeat in the Seven Years' War, the area was ceded to Spain. In 1800, it was ceded back to France. Three years later the area was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase.
Saint Louis was then the point of embarkation for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In the 19th century, St. Louis became a major port on the Mississippi River. From 1870 until 1920, St. Louis was the fourth-largest city in the United States. It separated from St. Louis County in 1877, becoming an independent city and limiting its political boundaries.
At the turn of the 20th century, more than 100 breweries were operating in St. Louis, including Anheuse-Busch. Today, visitors can tour the 1892 brew house and the Clydesdale horse stables.
In 1904, the city of Saint Louis hosted the third Olympiad, the first Olympics to take place in the United States and in the Western Hemisphere. Gold, silver and bronze medals were first introduced at the St. Louis Olympics as well as the first Olympiad with female participants. Runner George Coleman Poage was the first African-American athlete to participate in the Olympic games.
The 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis introduced the ice cream cone and iced tea to the world, and hot dogs and hamburgers were popularized at the event. Buster Brown children's shoes were introduced at the Fair, along with the turnstile. The 1904 Fair commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Lewis & Clark expedition.
St. Louis has a diverse economy with strengths in the service, manufacturing, trade, transportation, and tourism industries. It is home to eight Fortune 500 companies. Commonly referred to as the "Gateway to the West", St. Louis is famous for its iconic Gateway Arch, fiercely loyal sports fans, and blues music scene.
The Gateway Arch is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson and the historic role St. Louis played as the Gateway to the West. Designed by Finnish-American architect, Eero Saarinen, construction of the stainless steel Arch was completed in 1965.
Before Detroit became America's automotive capital, St. Louis was the largest producer of American automobiles in the early part of the 20th century. Midtown and Downtown still have many of the original warehouses and factories standing, but most have been converted to other purposes, such as loft apartments, shops and restaurants. St. Louis was also home to a bustling fashion manufacturing industry in the early 1900's, centered on Washington Avenue downtown. As with the auto industry, the last remnants of the fashion manufacturing industry can be found in the recently rehabbed warehouses which now contain new businesses and loft condominiums. In the late 20th century, St. Louis began a transformation from a manufacturing and industrial economy into a globally known center for research in medicine, biotechnology, and other sciences. Firms such as Monsanto, Centene, Solae, Energizer, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Edward Jones, Wells Fargo Advisors (formerly A.G. Edwards), Anheuser-Busch/Inbev are headquartered in St. Louis. AT&T and Bank of America operate major regional offices here. Two major private research universities, Washington University in St. Louis and Saint Louis University, are an important part of the local economy and society.
St. Louis is truly a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct flavor and culture. There are 79 government-designated neighborhoods within the City of St. Louis, many of which have associations and councils that exercise wide control over development and subsidies from the highest to the very lowest local level. Some neighborhoods contain avenues of massive stone mansions built as palaces for heads of state visiting the 1904 World's Fair, and now occupied by some of the more wealthy families and individuals in the City of St. Louis. Other neighborhoods are predominantly middle class and working-class and have retained their singular cultural identity for 200 years. Today, most of them have endured as strong and cohesive communities for their residents.