The area has long been influenced by its proximity to important local transportation routes, dating back to Native American trails established by the Osage Nation. Many of those trails served as the routes for the first roads in the area, such as Natural Bridge and the historic St. Charles Rock Road, which date back to the days of Spanish, French, and early American settlement. The influence continues today, with the recreational American Discovery Trail passing through the area, and the intersection of I-70 and I-270 adding to air and rail access to make the area a good base for transportation-dependent industries.
According to the Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.2 square miles (39.5 km²), of which, 14.6 square miles (37.7 km²) of it is land and 1.7 km² (0.7 sq mi or 4.4%) of it is water.
The Spanish gained colonial control in 1768; they remained in control until 1804, when the area was transferred to the Americans. In a 1799 census, the population of Marais des Liards was given as 337 whites and 42 slaves.
Bridgeton was first platted in 1794, and named Marais des Liards (Cottonwood Swamp). It was also known as Village à Robert, named after Robert Owen, its founder, who had received a land grant from the Spanish government. In a Spanish census two years later it had a population (including slaves) of 77 males and 47 females. As the area received more and more English-speaking settlers, the village's name became Owen's Station.
Because of its location, including its proximity to a ferry across the Missouri River, it was a stop along the way from St. Louis to St. Charles. Meriwether Lewis passed through on his way to meet what became known as the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It was granted a state charter in 1843; throughout the next few years it was a stop along the way for emigrants seeking the major trailheads to the Oregon and Santa Fe Trails.
While residential construction nearly ended in the 1990s, that decade has seen significant growth in commercial development. Levee-protected floodplains of the river together with good access to interstate highways, rail, and the airport have translated into continued growth for Bridgeton and nearby communities, and a diversification of the city's tax base.
The airport has been a mixed blessing. Starting in 1995, an expansion plan for the airport, centered around a new runway plan called W-1W, has been fought by the city in what appears to have been a lost battle. The new runway has led to the elimination of 2000 homes in the city, undoubtedly playing a significant role in the city's recent population decline.
In 2000, the city included 6,251 households and 4,206 families. The population density is 1,067.1 people per square mile (412.1/km²). There are 6,729 housing units at an average density of 461.8/sq mi (178.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city is 86.47% White, 9.05% African American, 0.21% Native American, 2.27% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.69% from other races, and 1.30% from two or more races. 2.22% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 6,251 households in the city, with an average of 2.43 members. Of these households:
26.8% of all households are made up of individuals and 9.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.43 and the average family size is 2.95.
The median age of the city's residents is 40 years; distributed as follows:
For every 100 females there are 93.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $49,216; it's greater for families, at $57,797. Males have a median income of $41,250 versus $28,175 for females. The per-capita income for the city is $23,955. 4.9% of the population and 3.2% of families live below the poverty line. Out of the total population, 4.7% are under 18 and 6.4% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.