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St. Louis, Missouri (Hayward)

Gazetteer/Almanac

John Hayward, Gazetteer of the United States of America… (Philadelphia: James L. Gihon, 1854), 559-560.

St. Louis, Mo. City, and seat of justice of St. Louis co. On the W. bank of the Mississippi River, 18 miles below the mouth of the Missouri. 130 miles E. from Jefferson City, the capital of the state, and 1101 miles, by the course of the river, N. from New Orleans. Population in 1810, 1600; in 1820, 4598; in 1830, 6694; in 1840, 16,469; in 1850, 82.774. St. Louis is the commercial metropolis of Missouri, and was formerly the seat of government. It was first settled in 1764, but during its subjection to the French and Spanish colonial governments, remained a mere village. The site is a most eligible one, being elevated many feet above the floods in the Mississippi, and favorable in that, as well as other respects, to the salubrity of the place. It rises from the river by two bottoms, or plains; the first, which is alluvial, being 20 feet above the highest water, and the second, which is a limestone bank, ascending 40 feet higher than the first, to the level of the adjacent country, sweeping away towards the western horizon as far as the eye can reach. The ascent from the river to the first of these terraces is somewhat abrupt; but the second acclivity is more gradual, carrying the observer into the finest part of the city, from which is enjoyed a beautiful prospect of the river, the lower sections of the city itself, and the wide surrounding country. Many of the public buildings are elegant and finely situated. The Court House stands in a public square, near the centre of the city. The City Hall is on a square reserved for the purpose at the foot of Market Street, the basement being occupied as a market. The edifice is a splendid structure of brick. The First Presbyterian Church, a large and handsome building, occupies a beautiful site upon the high ground of the city, where it is surrounded with ornamental trees. The Unitarian Church is a large and tasteful building. The Roman Catholic Cathedral is a spacious edifice, 136 feet long by 58 feet wide, with a massive Doric portico in front. The walls are 20 feet in height, above which rises a square tower, to the height of 40 feet, sustaining an octagonal spire, surmounted with a gilt cross. In the steeple of this church is a chime of bells, the largest of which weighs 2600 pounds. The several religious denominations in St. Louis have as many as 15 or 16 churches. There are a number of literary and benevolent institutions, whose labors and influence are important. Among these are the Orphan Asylum, under the direction of Protestant ladies, and the Roman Catholic Asylum for Orphans, conducted by the Sisters of Charity. The Western Academy of Sciences is established here, and has an extensive museum of natural history, mineralogy, &c. Besides this, there is a museum of Indian antiquities, fossil remains, and other curious relics. The medical department of the University of St. Louis has a building for its laboratory and lectures in the city. The university building itself is 4 miles N. of the city. (See Colleges.) Within the southern limits of St. Louis is the arsenal established here by the United States; also a few miles below are the Jefferson United States Barracks, capable of accommodating about 700 men. The situation of St. Louis, in respect to its advantages for becoming a great commercial place, is unsurpassed, perhaps, by that of any other inland city in the whole world. Being located not far from the geographical centre of the Mississippi Valley, and almost at the very focus towards which its great navigable rivers, the Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois, converge their courses, it is not to be doubted that, as the resources of this immense region are more and more largely developed, this must become a mart of wealth and commerce scarcely inferior to any in the United States. Its trade already exceeds that of any other place on the Mississippi, except New Orleans. The steamboats, which ply from this place in every direction, seem almost numberless. A great number of these and of all descriptions of river craft, bound to every point on the navigable waters of the Mississippi Valley, are seen at all times in its harbor. This is also a great depot and point of departure for the American fur trade, and for the rich lead mines of the Upper Mississippi; and here hunters, trappers, miners, adventurers, and emigrants, of all characters and languages, meet in the prosecution of their various objects, and hence scatter towards the most distant parts of the great west. The city was originally laid out on the first bank, consisting of three narrow streets parallel with the course of the river; but after its more rapid growth commenced, under the auspices of an American population, it soon extended itself to the upper plain by the grading of several streets back of the original plot. These are wide and airy, and are crossed at right angles by about 20 other streets ascending directly from the river. N. and S. of the more compact portion of the city, which is built up now about 2 miles on the river, extensive suburbs have been laid out on the same general plan. Front Street, on the river bank, is built up on the side opposite the landing, with a range of stone warehouses, four stories high, which make an imposing appearance, and are the seat of a heavy business. The first street back of this is the principal seat of the wholesale dry goods business. The city is generally well built, the more recent portions being chiefly of brick, which are made in abundance in the immediate vicinity. Stone. also for building is quarried from the limestone strata on the spot. Many of the residences, particularly in the upper parts of the city, are of costly and beautiful architecture, and are surrounded by ornamental yards and gardens. St. Louis is supplied with water by the operation of a steam engine, raising it from the Mississippi into a reservoir, upon the summit of one of those ancient mounds for which this part of the country is remarkable. Thence it is distributed in iron pipes over the city. The streets, churches, stores, and dwellings, to some extent, are lighted with gas. St. Louis was first settled by a company of merchants, to whom the French director general of Louisiana had granted the exclusive privilege of trading with the Indians on the Missouri. They built a large house and four stores here, which in 1770 had increased to 40 houses, and a small French garrison for their defence. In 1780 an expedition, consisting of British and Indians, was fitted out at Michilimackinac for the capture of St. Louis and other places on the W. side of the Mississippi, which was successfully repelled by the aid of an American force under General George Rogers Clark, which was providentially encamped on the opposite side of the river.

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