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Alumni Posts

Fun history of St. Louis

by Alumni Posts on March 5, 2012

in In Saint Louis

What I love most about living in a new place is learning fun and strange new history about the city. St. Louis has a lot of very fascinating history.

Many people consider the Wainwright building to be the first skyscraper! The Wainwright building is located in downtown St. Louis, only a few blocks from the arch. It is a beautiful, brick building designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan in 1890. It was built to resemble a classical column to emphasize its height. When it was built it was the tallest building in St. Louis at a whopping 10 stories!

Another very interesting aspect of St. Louis history is the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair. The fair was located at Forest Park. Many buildings were built for the fair, and a few of them still stand; the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, and a large aviary in the St. Louis Zoo. Also, several foods were popularized at the St. Louis World’s Fair. Among them are hamburgers, hot dogs, waffle-cones, and cotton candy!

One interesting bit of St. Louis history surrounds what is known as Bloody Island. It is a sandbar in the Mississippi that is now attached to the Illinois shore. At one time it was a small island that belonged neither to Missouri, nor Illinois. For this reason it was a popular place for dueling! Two of these duels were between Thomas Hart Benton and Charles Lucas (who owned a large amount of land in North County). They were both lawyers, and they had a dispute in a trial. At a voting poll, Lucas accused Benton of not paying his property tax, and Benton responded, calling him a “little puppy.” Lucas challenged him to a duel on Bloody Island! They were both injured in their first duel, and in their second duel, Benton shot Lucas and he died in 1817. Most of Lucas’ land ended up in the hands of Wilson Price Hunt. This land is now Normandy and the surrounding areas, by Lucas and Hunt Road. Benton went on to be one of the first Missouri Senators, a driving force behind Manifest Destiny, and the great uncle of the famous Missouri painter, also named Thomas Hart Benton!

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