St. Louis

For other places with the same name, see Saint Louis (disambiguation).

The Gateway City of St. Louis is the epitome of the modern Midwestern metropolis. Missouri's second-largest city is vibrant but laid-back, populous but navigable, historic but still relevant. The city's planners have created an aesthetically beautiful city, with plenty of green space amidst buildings both old and new, framed by the majestic Mississippi and Missouri rivers. And capping it all is the world's tallest man-made monument, the beautiful and iconic Gateway Arch.

St. Louis is a city of culture and surprisingly inexpensive. Among American cities, only Washington, D.C., has more free attractions for tourists and residents alike. Hotels, restaurants, and even parking garages avoid the premium pricing common in other big cities. Although often overlooked, St. Louis can be (and sometimes is!) an affordable, educational, and fun family getaway!


The city is named after King Louis IX of France. St. Louis is known by the nickname of The Gateway to the West. The city was the last major stop before pioneers journeyed Westward to the Pacific coast. The city also played a large part during the steamboat era due its position at the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Missouri River. St. Louis was acquired from France by the United States during President Thomas Jefferson's term in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The transfer of power from Spain was made official in a ceremony called, "Three Flags Day." On March 8, 1804, the Spanish flag was lowered and the French one raised. On March 10, the French flag was replaced by that of the USA. In 1904, St. Louis hosted that year's World's Fair and the Summer Olympic Games. Many of the parks, buildings, and finer homes in St. Louis were built around this time period. While there are few, if any, living residents who attended the Fair, it holds an important place in the modern development of the city.

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 1900s, 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.


With neither mountains nor large bodies of water nearby to moderate the climate, St. Louis experiences extremes of temperatures at both ends of the scale. The Winter cold from December through March can be brutal to the unaccustomed body, as can the Summer heat from June through September. The Mississippi River makes this area humid, though temperatures are generally moderate. Storms can occur at any time of the year. July and August are hottest and most humid, and January and February are cold, with occasional snow. Normal temperatures range from 21°F in the winter to 90°F in the summer (-6°C to 32°C), but summer highs of 100°F and winter lows of 0°F are not uncommon (38°C and -18°C).

Get in

By car

St. Louis can be accessed by Interstate 70 West from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and points eastward, I-64W from Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and points southeastward, I-55N from Arkansas, Tennessee, and points southward, I-55S from Illinois, I-44E from Tulsa, and I-70E from Kansas City. There is a loop around St. Louis which is I-270 (I-255 on the Illinois side). Don't be surprised if locals refer to I-64 as Highway 40; US40 is coincident with I64 through St. Louis, and it's not uncommon to speak of "40" rather than "64."

By plane

  Lambert St. Louis International Airport (IATA: STL) see the majority of visitors through its gates. The majority of US carriers, as well as some of the smaller ones, service the area with their presence here. Rental cars are not the only way to see the ground as the airport is directly served by the MetroLink light rail line.

  Spirit of St. Louis Airport (IATA: SUS) in Chesterfield serves general aviation. With dual runways and convenient access to I-64, it offers convenient access to west St. Louis County, and is a 20 minute drive from downtown St Louis.

  St. Louis Downtown Airport (IATA: CPS) also serves general aviation, and is only three miles from the Arch on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, in Sauget, IL. Flying into KCPS yields impressive views of the Arch, Busch Stadium, and the St Louis downtown area.

  Creve Coeur Airport (FAA LID: 1HO) is a general aviation airport on St Louis' west side, and is home to the one of the largest assemblages of flying antique aircraft in the US, as well as the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum.

By train or bus

  Gateway Multimodal Transportation Center, 430 S 15th St, is the central train and bus terminal in St. Louis. It is directly linked to the Civic Center station on the MetroLink light rail system.

By boat

The Mississippi River forms the eastern boundary of the city, separating it from Illinois. The Missouri River runs into the Mississippi just north of St. Louis.

You may be able to arrive on a cruise boat from a nearby city like Peoria or Memphis.

Get around

By train

MetroLink, +1 314 231-2345 - A light rail system with much room to grow. It runs from Lambert-St. Louis Int'l Airport (STL) in Missouri to Scott AFB in Illinois. The MetroLink has stops in many of the metropolitan area's most popular destinations, such as Delmar Loop, Grand Center arts district, Forest Park, the Central West End, and several in Downtown St. Louis. The campuses of University of Missouri-St. Louis, Washington University and St. Louis University each have stops on campus or nearby. The Metro recently expanded, and now includes a second line that goes to the St. Louis Galleria (a shopping center) and farther out to Shrewsbury.

By bus

Metro Buses - Crisscross the bi-state metropolitan area.

By car

St. Louis is a typical midwestern type city. Outside of the central downtown area, the suburbs and surrounding community ambles outward in a significantly less dense pattern than those cities in the east. As such, a car becomes an almost necessity. While the City of St. Louis and surrounding communities do have taxi cabs, they are centered in the airport and downtown areas. They do not drive around the city looking for pedestrians to hail service. You must call a cab company for pick-up. Hotels and phonebooks have the numbers of the most commonly used cab services in the area. In a few downtown areas like at the Convention Center, they wait at the curb for customers.


St. Louis is one of the more segregated and boundaried cities in the nation, and is home to the country's first private gated street - Benton Place in Lafayette Square. In one minute you might be driving down tree-lined avenues with large houses, and the next minute you might be in a low-income neighborhood. Though the region is now more racially and economically integrated than it was, the road system still follows historic boundaries marking one area from the next. Hotels and most St. Louis guide books should have good maps of the layout of the neighborhoods of the City.

Note that St. Louis City is separate and distinct from St. Louis County - the City is really a city without a county, with its own government, school system, and other services. The City has just under 400,000 residents while the St. Louis County has just over 1,000,000 residents. The entire St. Louis metropolitan region has approximately 3,000,000 residents. Any study of St. Louis neighborhoods can be complicated and is bound to leave out some small (yet distinct) areas, but some of the more well-visited and larger neighborhoods in the metropolitan region are:

Downtown St. Louis at night

St. Louis City

St. Louis County


Category: Catenary

The Gateway Arch's shape is what's known as a catenary arch. It looks similar to a parabola, but you might know it as the shape created when a chain or string is suspended from two points. (That makes the Gateway Arch an inverted catenary, of course.) In particular, it's a specific catenary arch with a width exactly equal to its height (both 630 feet [192 m]).

Cross sections of the Arch are triangular, a trait readily visible from within the tram pods during the trip to the top. The arch is constructed of carbon steel, clad with stainless steel, on a concrete and carbon steel core. Its foundation is anchored 60 feet (18 m) underground.

Obviously, the Gateway Arch is a must-see attraction; even if you can't handle the ride to the top, you should at least gaze upward and ponder the arch's majesty. But St. Louis has plenty else to see, too, and several of the attractions offer free admission. (That doesn't mean parking is free, or that you can do everything within the attraction without extra charges... but still: free!)


St. Louis Union Station


St. Louis' two major-league sports teams (the Cardinals and the Blues) play in downtown stadiums just a few blocks apart. (The L.A. Rams' former stadium sits forlornly nearby as well.) Other St. Louis teams play in the suburbs, like St. Louis FC (soccer) in Fenton

Performing Arts



St. Louis has its very own magazine and accompanying website, Sauce, which is the definitive guide to dining in St. Louis. Visit for a searchable restaurant directory, news, and reviews.

Provel cheese, please

As you're gazing at a restaurant menu in St. Louis, you're likely to notice "Provel" listed as a topping choice for burgers or pizza, or as an ingredient in other dishes. It's not just a weird local abbreviation for provolone!

Provel is actually a processed cheese blend of provolone, Swiss, and cheddar cheeses, and St. Louisans put it on everything. Well, maybe not everything, but anyplace you'd expect to find provolone, or Swiss, or even mozzarella, you're likely to instead see Provel.

Provel cheese is, in fact, a key component of St. Louis-style pizza, which by default consists of a cracker-thin unleavened crust, with heavily oreganoed pizza sauce and plenty of Provel on top.

Try St. Louis original foods


St. Louis' German heritage is evidenced in its vintage bakeries throughout the metro area:

The Hill

If you are a fan of Italian, head over to a neighborhood known as the Hill. Home of Yogi Berra, the Hill has more Italian restaurants than any other area in the city.

Central West End

Delmar Loop

The Loop features award-winning dining, and has everything from sidewalk cafés to upscale restaurants. This is a great street to walk and find something that appeals to your palate. Many ethnic restaurants, including Lebanese and Thai, are on the Loop.

South City






Most tourists will be familiar with St. Louis' world famous Anheuser-Busch brewery, especially its signature variety Budweiser, or their best-seller Bud Light. However, unless you are accustomed to American style pilsners, it is unlikely you will find these and other Anheuser-Busch brands suit your palate. For those more familiar with European brews or who have been caught up in the domestic microbrewery explosion interested in sampling a local brewery's product, the Saint Louis Brewery's Schlafly microbrews are more likely to satisfy. Schlfaly is the largest microbrewery in St. Louis but not the only one. 4Hands, Civil Life, Urban Chestnut, Square One, Perennial Artisan Ales, are just a few of the other breweries in town. They are definitely worth a look.

If you are would rather explore rather than choose one specific establishment, two areas in St. Louis are great for wandering from location to location: The Central West End (featuring Sub-Zero Vodka Bar, the Drunken Fish, Tom's Bar, the Loading Zone, Mandarin Lounge, and Bissinger's Chocolate Lounge all off Euclid Ave), and Downtown centered around Washington Ave (featuring Kyo, Home, Pepper Lounge, Lucas Park Grille, Plush, Nectar, and rue13). St. Louis's MetroLink system is great if you prefer not to drive, but much of the line will stop running by 1AM.

St. Louis is also home to a number of gay and lesbian friendly nightlife options. From busy bars to energetic dance clubs, make sure to stop by rBar, Atomic Cowboy, Novak's, and the Complex. Much of these are on Manchester Rd in Forest Park Southeast.


St. Louis does have the host of usual Marriott, Hilton, Holiday Inn and similar chains. Check out chain websites for exact locations throughout the metropolitan region. One great thing about the city is an abundance of hotel rooms, convention and meeting space, and amenities for travelers. Since the city has a low cost of living, even for the Midwest, you might find even the most expensive hotels relatively affordable; rooms at even the Ritz-Carlton start in the mid $200s per night.




Stay safe

St. Louis' recent designation as the Most Dangerous City in America should not deter the potential visitor, as vagaries in data collection and the city's fixed borders distort the true nature of the Gateway City's safety. While riots against police brutality in the north-end suburb of Ferguson, Missouri gained widespread media attention in 2014, the areas most often visited by tourists are no more dangerous than any other large American city. The more popular and most-visited areas in the city, such as Clayton, Downtown, the Central West End, and Forest Park have very low crime rates, even for the Midwest.

Some economically depressed North County suburbs like Wellston, Pagedale and parts of Normandy and Jennings, as well as many parts of North St. Louis city are unsafe. The post-war exodus to the suburbs has taken a huge economic toll on these areas, leaving many buildings abandoned, decaying, or demolished. East St. Louis, in Illinois, is also noted for its high crime rate (note this is not true of Alton or Belleville, in Illinois to the north and south). When in the city, a general guideline (though politically incorrect and somewhat simplistic) is that areas north of Delmar Blvd are less safe than south. Most tourists, however, will have little reason to visit any of these places, so it should not present reason for much concern.

Some Metrolink stations are located in areas some may find questionable after dark as well. But most downtown areas around Busch Stadium, and Union Station, as well as the St. Louis University area and commuter lots near the airport, are generally safe and patrolled.

Although the chance is extremely rare, an earthquake is possible in the area, as St. Louis sits on a fault line, whose last big earthquake changed the course of the Mississippi River. While many scientists have cautioned that a "big one" may occur again, the majority agree it is unlikely to happen any time soon.

St. Louis has had more urban tornadoes than any other city in the country, so make sure you understand tornado safety precautions.



Go next


Further afield

Routes through St. Louis

Chicago Alton  N  S  END
Jefferson City Kirkwood  W  E  END
Dallas Poplar Bluff  SW  NE  Alton Chicago
Springfield (Missouri) Kirkwood  W  E  END
Springfield (Illinois) East St. Louis  N  S  Imperial Memphis
END ← Wentzville O'Fallon  W  E  East St. Louis Louisville
Columbia Earth City  W  E  East St. Louis Indianapolis
Springfield (Missouri) Eureka  W  E  Edwardsville Springfield (Illinois)

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Sunday, February 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.