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STL celebrates 250 years

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Image courtesy of STL 250

Image courtesy of STL 250

It once began as a fur-trading post on the river in 1764, then evolved into a French village, and eventually became a Louisiana Purchase territory in 1803. Since then, and over the course of 250 years, the trade stop on the Mississippi River has progressed to the thriving metropolis of St. Louis that is admired, respected and celebrated by millions today.

Such a milestone birthday definitely deserves celebration, especially given Saint Louis University’s hand in the transformation of this beautiful city. Upon its founding as the first university west of the Mississippi in 1818, SLU is responsible for substantial religious, educational, medical and legal advancements as well as the revitalization of the Midtown neighborhood. There’s no doubt St. Louis would not be the city it is today without SLU’s monumental contributions.

Image courtesy of Pokey Lafrage

Image courtesy of Pokey Lafrage

STL250 serves as the sponsor and promoter of an entire calendar year of cultural, educational and recreational activities. The official website of STL250, stl250.org, contains a daily detailed calendar of all the events taking place at art galleries, restaurants, parks and city centers throughout the area, with something to do nearly every day. STL250 also has a Facebook and Twitter page with up-to-the-minute news and events.

The actual date of the city’s founding is unknown, therefore the Missouri History Museum board members denoted the weekend of Feb. 14-17 as the official celebration of this momentous occasion. This kicked off with “The Biggest Birthday Bash,” which consisted of four full days of free events at the Missouri History Museum as it premiered the opening of its “250 in 250” exhibit. The exhibition commemorated the artistic, athletic, business and social transformations and advancements that have impacted St. Louis history through the chronicling of 50 people, 50 places, 50 images, 50 moments and 50 objects. The exhibition highlights St. Louis’ role in historical milestones such as the Civil War, 1904 World’s Fair, Great Depression and its ongoing renaissance as it continues to grow and thrive. The Missouri History Museum is located at 5700 Lindell Blvd. and admission is always free with the exception of some temporary exhibitions.

Although the actual birthday weekend has passed, many activities and events are ongoing. For example, “Cakeway to the West” is a yearlong combination of a history lesson, scavenger hunt and public art exhibit. After a public vote, 250 area locations were chosen to house a four-foot tall, two-tiered birthday cakes decorated by local artists. A downloadable app is in the works, which will allow for visitors to “check-in” at each location and learn more about the history and significance of that St. Louis landmark as well as become eligible for prizes. The cakes will be installed continuously throughout the year so keep a look out, you never know when or where one may pop up!

Other upcoming STL250-sponsored events and activities will celebrate Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day. A complete list of such events can be found at stl250.org.

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