St. Charles (French: "Saint-Charles"; Spanish: "San Carlos") is a city in, and the county seat of, St. Charles County, Missouri. It lies just to the northwest of St. Louis, Missouri, on the Missouri River, and played for a time a significant role in the United States' westward expansion. It is the second oldest city west of the Mississippi, founded in 1765 as Les Petites Côtes, "The Little Hills", by Louis Blanchette, a French Canadian fur trader, and was the last "civilized" stop for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The city served as the first Missouri capital, from 1821 to 1826. It is the site for the Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne shrine. It is also the home base for the St. Louis National Weather Service Forecast Office, serving central, east-central and northeastern Missouri as well as west-central and southwest Illinois.
The City of St. Charles school district has five elementary schools
, two middle schools
, two high schools
, and the Lewis & Clark Tech Building located on Zumbehl Road. St. Charles High School (sometimes called SCHS or simply "High") was the first built of the two high schools. St. Charles West (SCWest or simply "West") was added in the late '70's in response to the city's growing population. St. Charles West had their first graduation in 1979. St. Charles High School underwent renovation in 1995 to improve both the exterior and interior of the building, as did St. Charles West in 2005, in which a new library and auxiliary gym were built. St. Charles is also home to a variety of private schools including Immanuel Lutheran (Pre-K to 8), Zion Lutheran (Pre-K to 8), St. Charles Borromeo, St. Peter's, St. Cletus (K-8), Academy of the Sacred Heart (founded by Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne, and the site of her shrine), Duchesne High School (formerly named St. Peter High school), and Saints Joachim and Ann. There are other schools associated with the Francis Howell School District and the Orchard Farm School District that serve St. Charles as well. Many students who live on the southern edge of St. Charles City attend Francis Howell North High School and Henderson Elementary as well as Barnwell Middle and Becky David Elementary and Harvest Ridge Elementary. The Orchard Farm School District serves St. Charles but is outside of the city like Francis Howell. This school district to the North has an elementary school, middle school, and high school.
Lindenwood University is located on Kingshighway, seconds from St. Charles High. Founded by Major George Sibley and his wife Mary in 1827. Originally a women's school named Lindenwood College (until 1995) it was known as a fine liberal arts institution. Lindenwood is also home to 89.1 The Wood (KCLC), a commercial-free student-driven radio station.
Recreation and New Developments
St. Charles lies at one end of the Katy Trail
, a 225 mile long state park enjoyed by bikers and walkers. Since the late 1970s, there has been very healthy new home construction, commercial growth and explosive population growth in the St. Charles area. In describing the area, someone coined the phrase the Golden Triangle in the Eighties, referring to the tremendous growth in real estate development in the St. Charles County region bordered by Highways 70, 40 and 94. St. Charles City has a historic shopping district and most standard living features (with the exception of a public golf course) that are usually found in a community of St. Charles' size. The City also has many current events and features related to the Lewis and Clark Expedition
which arguably started in St. Charles. An 11,000 seat arena called the Family Arena was built in the early 1990s near the Missouri River and is used by minor league sports franchises and hosts events like concerts, shows, circuses, graduations and special college sporting contests.
Another prominent feature of St. Charles in the new development category is the St. Charles Convention Center. It hosts conferences, business meetings, trade shows, Chamber of Commerce expos, and a variety of public sales and association shows. Located along Interstate 70, it displays event information on an electronic message board that is clearly visible to all passing by.
A new feature (opened Nov. 2006) of the St. Charles Parks and Recreation System is a dog park on the north side of town as a part of DuSable Park-Bales Area. This off-leash dog area has two sections- one for smaller dogs, one for larger. In 2007, St. Charles welcomed men's professional road bicycle racing riders and fans as it served as the stage 5 final for the 2007 Tour of Missouri.
Riverfront St. Charles
The Riverfront area and Main Street is a central gathering place and focal point for the community. The primary features of the riverfront and Historic Main Street are residences and businesses open year-round. Each block features shops, restaurants and offices that visitors and locals frequent. Much is planned for the development and improvement of the area, including Northward extension of the Katy Trail, residential and commercial development, parking garage expansion, casino expansion and development of hotels.
St. Charles Christmas Traditions
One of the nations largest Christmas Festivals takes place on the streets of St. Charles every year starting the day after Thanksgiving
and going through until right before Christmas
. Over 30 costumed Legends of Christmas stroll the streets and interact with guests, while Victorian Era
Christmas Carolers fill the air with old-fashioned carols. Every Saturday and Sunday the Legends of Christmas and the world-renowned Lewis & Clark Fife and Drum Corps take part in the Santa Parade as it heads up Historic South Main Street to the site of the First Missouri State Capitol
Riverfest (Fourth of July)
displays draw large numbers on two nights, July 4
and another night before or after the Fourth. Many bring blankets to sit near the riverfront. Others opt to view the festivities from the Old Courthouse. The festival, named Riverfest, has been sponsored by the city of St. Charles and organized by a volunteer committee formed of city residents and sponsoring private organization (like the Jaycees) leaders. Food and fun are always a major highlight of the event.
Festival of the Little Hills
Another popular riverfront festival, The Festival of the Little Hills is a historic St. Charles tradition that takes place every year in August, the third full weekend of the month. Started in the late 1960s, this festival is known nationally as one of the top ten craft fairs, and runs through an entire weekend featuring great food, live entertainment, craft sales, and shows for kids. The theme of the festival centers around the famous Lewis & Clark expedition: many participants don clothing from the era and act out historic events. The city also encourages individuals to bring their homemade crafts, jewelry, paintings, clothing and other items to sell at the festival.
This October riverfront festival celebrates the German
influence on the history of the city. Many vendors sell beer and other German goods. Includes a parade.
The celebration of local Scottish Heritage held each Spring. Features a parade with marching bagpipers from around the World and region, food and fun. Highlights also include the Kirkin' o' the Tartans (ceremony of blessing for the Scottish clans), displays of the traditional Scottish Plaid Tartans, and demonstrations of traditional Scottish activities and games.
Fete de Glace
Ice carving competition and demonstration held on Main Street in Mid-January.
Irish Heritage Days
Festival held every September in Frontier Park and on Main Street to celebrate Irish Heritage with music, dancing, storytelling, athletics, food, and fun.
Quilts on Main Street
On historic Main Street hundreds of quilts are displayed outside the shops up and down Main Street on storefronts and balconies. Stroll along and enjoy the beautiful handiwork. The event also features a lecture. Event is held annually in September.
Bluegrass in Frontier Park on the big stage of Jaycee's pavilion early in September every year. Features talented local and regional acts.
Civil War Living History
Military history comes to life in Frontier Park 1860s-style with authentic encampments of drill and camp life and a battle reenactment every September.
Mosaics - Festival for the Arts
Main Street in St. Charles hosts this major arts festival each September that brings artists from across the States to exhibit and sell their artwork.
was a French Canadian
who travelled to the Americas
, it is said, for adventure. According to Hopewell's Legends of the Missouri and Mississippi
- In the year 1765, a French Canadian, called Blanchette Chasseur, animated by that love of adventure which characterizes all who have lived a roving and restless life, ascended the Missouri, with a few followers, for the purpose of forming a settlement in the then remote wilderness.
According to Hopewell's rather romantic account, Blanchette met another French Canadian (Bernard Guillet) at the site of St. Charles in 1765. Blanchette, determined to settle at the site, asked if Guillet, who had become the chief of a Dakota tribe, had chosen a name for it.
- "I called the place 'Les Petites Côtes' " replied Bernard, "from the sides of the hills that you see."
- "By that name shall it be called," said Blanchette Chasseur, "for it is the echo of nature — beautiful from its simplicity."
Blanchette settled there in 1769 under the authority of the Spanish governor of Upper Louisiana, and served as its civil and military leader until his death in 1793. During this time perhaps only a couple dozen buildings were built. Although the settlement was under Spanish jurisdiction, the settlers themselves remained primarily French nationals.
The first church, built in 1791, was dedicated to San Carlos Borromeo
, and the town became known as San Carlos del Misuri
: "St. Charles of the Missouri". This church was destroyed by a tornado in 1916.
The first American-born Europeans to settle in the region were Daniel Boone
and his family. The Spanish Lieutenant-Governor Carlos de Hault de Lassus
appointed him commandant of the Femme Osage
District, which he served until the United States
government assumed control
in 1804. The name of the town, San Carlos, was anglicized to become St. Charles.
Lewis and Clark
arrived in St. Charles on May 16
. With him were 40 men and three boats; there they made final preparations, as they waited for Meriwether Lewis
to arrive from St. Louis
. They attended dances, dinners, and a church service during this time, and the excited town was very hospitable to the explorers.
Lewis arrived via St. Charles Rock Road on May 20, and the expedition launched the next day in a keelboat at 3:30 pm. St. Charles was the last established American town they would visit for more than two and a half years.
When Missouri was granted statehood in 1821, a decision was made to build a "City of Jefferson
" to serve as the state capital, in the center of the state, overlooking the Missouri River. Since this land was undeveloped at the time, a temporary capital was needed. St. Charles beat eight other cities in a competition to house the temporary capitol, offering free meeting space for the legislature in rooms located above a hardware store. This building still stands today and may be toured. The Missouri government continued to meet there until Jefferson City
was ready in 1826.
was a German
who visited in the area in 1824. Travelling under the guidance of Daniel M. Boone, he wrote extensive accounts of life in St. Charles County
during his year there. These he published upon his return to Germany in 1829, and his favorable impressions of the area led to the immigration of a number of Germans in 1833. The first permanent German settler in the region was probably Louis Eversman, who arrived with Duden but decided to stay.
Saint Charles is located at (38.788698, -90.511764). According to the United States Census Bureau
, the city has a total area of 20.8 square miles
), of which, 20.4 square miles (52.7 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.2 km²) of it (2.30%) is water.
As of the census
of 2000, there were 60,321 people, 24,210 households, and 15,324 families residing in the city. The population density
was 2,962.4 people per square mile (1,143.9/km²). There were 25,283 housing units at an average density of 1,241.6/sq mi (479.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 93.28% White
, 3.48% African American
, 0.27% Native American
, 1.01% Asian
, 0.04% Pacific Islander
, 0.73% from other races
, and 1.19% from two or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 1.97% of the population.
There were 24,210 households out of which 30.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.4% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.7% were non-families. 29.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.4% under the age of 18, 12.0% from 18 to 24, 30.5% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,782, and the median income for a family was $60,175. Males had a median income of $40,827 versus $27,778 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,607. About 4.6% of families and 6.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.1% of those under age 18 and 5.9% of those age 65 or over.
- National Register of Historic Places - Nomination Forms