If you’re familiar with St. Louis of the 21st century and curious about what has changed, or if you’re just curious about life anywhere in the United States a hundred years ago, this portrait should set you to thinking. It was a fascinating time.
You can see the various categories of interest below (and above). This site is interactive, and I hope that those of you with knowledge about early 20th century St. Louis will contribute and join in the conversation about the past—which, of course, is vitally connected to the present.
—Jo Allison, Author
In 1910, St. Louis was at the height of its urban glory by many standards. It was the fourth largest city in the country—and I’m referring here to the actual City, not the sprawled conglomeration we consider today. (The first three were New York City, Chicago, and Philadelphia, in case you’re wondering.) There were newspapers in St. Louis with national circulation. Conventions of major organizations, including the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and political conventions were held in St. Louis on a regular basis. St. Louis was the western bastion of civilization. Kansas City was a beacon on the plains; Denver defined the mountains; Dallas and Houston were important to the south, but the nearest competition for civilization to the west was San Francisco. And, of course, the very successful World’s Fair of 1904 had both put the city on the world map and created internal dynamics obvious to this day. And, what constitutes civilization? St. Louis was home to nationally-known writers, musicians, architecture—and not least, baseball.
Above you see the stained glass window in Union Station that positions St. Louis, represented by the woman in the center, between the women representing New York City and San Francisco—supposedly representing the three main train stations in the US during the 1890s, when Union Station was built.