St. Louis was founded by traders moving north and south on the river, by explorers and frontier families from the eastern states pushing restlessly west. It is a place that is neither northern nor southern, neither eastern nor western, but the one place that combines traits of all. It has been influenced by descendants of European colonists, by thousands of years of rich Native American culture which predated it and surrounded it, and by standing on the shadow line between the slave states and the free states. It has been both a destination and a gateway to other lands.
This is the place where a nation reached the great river and halted, staring across the water into wide, wild lands. In St. Louis, the United States ended and the wild began. So it was here that the citizens of the young United States streamed across and into the western territories, first with Lewis and Clark and then with countless others. It all began from a wide bend on the continent’s mightiest river. This is where the United States discovered America.