St. Louis January 12, 2018
10 Vintage Photos Of St. Louis’ Streets That Will Take You Back In Time
St. Louis is a lovely city, and we owe that all to its growth and expansion that stem from a number of intercultural influences over the years. Our city was founded in 1764 and named for Louis IX of France, a canonized saint that ruled his nation until 1270. St. Louis was originally a French fur trading post that would switch between French to Spanish rule until 1803, when the United States acquired the city through the Louisiana Purchase. A tremendous amount of history has accumulated in the city over the years, but its story is best chronicled by vintage photos.
1. The Old Courthouse, 1862
Dred Scott made this site famous when he sued for his freedom in 1847, a handful of years before this image was captured. Only a decade prior to this snapshot, this courthouse had undergone extensive remodeling. In 1851, the building was already decades old and in need of repair. The original dome was replaced, now sparkling in wrought and cast iron and filled with stunning murals. It was abandoned in 1930, but became a national monument shortly thereafter.
2. A St. Louis streetcar, 1896
This mail car would have been a familiar sight in pre-turn-of-the-century St. Louis. It was owned and operated by the St. Louis & Meramec River Railroad.
3. Tornado damage, 1896
On May 27, 1896, a tornado tore through town. This look down South Broadway reveals the extent of the damage.
4. An aerial view of the World's Fair grounds, 1904
The Louisiana Purchase Exposition is perhaps one of the most famous moments in St. Louis history. The event was a centennial celebration of the Louisiana Purchase, and it was attended by nearly 20 million people.
5. Bridge to the Philippine Reservation, 1904
The 1904 World's Fair took place on the grounds of what we now know as Forest Park. It made history as the largest fair ever, featuring over 1,500 buildings across 1,200 acres.
6. A small child selling newspapers, 1910
On a Saturday afternoon, this young newsie worked hard to bring home some cash. It would not be until the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that a minimum working age of 14 would be established, with regulations prohibiting anyone under 16 from working during school hours and anyone under 18 from performing certain dangerous jobs.
7. The Red Cross stepping in to help, 1918
The Spanish Flu ravaged St. Louis in 1918 and 1919. Around 1,150 were infected within the first two days, practically overnight, and while most survived, there were also many who succumbed to the illness. By the end, 31,500 St. Louisans were infected and only 1,703 died. St. Louis had a much lower death rate than other cities, thanks to "social distancing," a city-wide quarantine requiring schools, taverns, and other public places to close down.
8. A racially-fueled protest, 1933
Though striking, this photo immortalizes a sad moment in our history. Here, parents brought their children to Penrose School to protest school integration.
9. Downtown Saint Louis, 1970
The Gateway Arch was still a fairly young structure in 1970. Construction on this ginormous icon was completed in 1965 at a total cost of $13 million, equivalent to nearly $200 million today.
10. The Henry Shaw Mausoleum, 1983
Shaw, who passed in 1889, is perhaps best remembered as the founder of the Missouri Botanical Garden. He is buried on those very grounds, and many visitors still affectionately call the site "Shaw's Garden."
The story of St. Louis is best told through photos, as many of its most moving moments were immortalized on film. Though we have changed dramatically over the years, the attitude of St. Louisans is as determined as ever.
For more ways to explore our fascinating past, check out these
stunning historical landmarks right here in STL.