Fur trader Pierre Laclede established St Louis as a French trading post in 1764, settling at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. It proved an ideal location, subsequently becoming a major port as well as a main departure point for explorers travelling the westbound wagon trails.
St Louis became a manufacturing centre for everything a pioneer would need on his journeys, such as saddles and guns, and it was here that explorers Lewis and Clark stocked up with provisions for their now famous expedition.
Today, St Louis is a modern, commercial, industrial, and cultural centre. It operates as the biggest city in Missouri and one of the largest inland ports in the country. Reminders of St Louis's frontier history are evident most visibly in the shining steel Gateway, the famous landmark dedicated to the pioneers of the Western Frontier.
The city has numerous personalities, existing as a mix of authentic America with a vaguely European air. Music from the nation's past floats from famous jazz and blues clubs, while paddle steamers dock along a riverfront filled with antique shops and restaurants now part of the revitalised Laclede's Landing Historic District.