St. Louis is a major independent city and inland port in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is situated along the western bank of the Mississippi River, which marks Missouri's border with Illinois. The Missouri River merges with the Mississippi River just north of the city. These two rivers combined form the fourth longest river system in the world. The city had an estimated 2017 population of 308,626 and is the cultural and economic center of the St. Louis metropolitan area (home to nearly 3,000,000 people), which is the largest metropolitan area in Missouri, the second-largest in Illinois (after Chicago), and the 20th-largest in the United States.
Before European settlement, the area was a regional center of Native American Mississippian culture. The city of St. Louis was founded in 1764 by French fur traders Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau, and named after Louis IX of France. In 1764, following France's defeat in the Seven Years' War, the area was ceded to Spain and retroceded back to France in 1800. In 1803, the United States acquired the territory as part of the Louisiana Purchase. During the 19th century, St. Louis became a major port on the Mississippi River; at the time of the 1870 Census it was the fourth-largest city in the country. It separated from St. Louis County in 1877, becoming an independent city and limiting its own political boundaries. In 1904, it hosted the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the Summer Olympics.
The economy of metropolitan St. Louis relies on service, manufacturing, trade, transportation of goods, and tourism. Its metro area is home to major corporations, including Anheuser-Busch, Express Scripts, Centene, Boeing Defense, Emerson, Energizer, Panera, Enterprise, Peabody Energy, Ameren, Post Holdings, Monsanto, Edward Jones, Go Jet, Purina and Sigma-Aldrich. Nine of the ten Fortune 500 companies based in Missouri are located within the St. Louis metropolitan area. The city has also become known for its growing medical, pharmaceutical, and research presence due to institutions such as Washington University in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. St. Louis has two professional sports teams: the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball and the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League. One of the city's iconic sights is the 630-foot (192 m) tall Gateway Arch in the downtown area.
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St Louis, 1963