In DepthWhat do Judy Garland, Nelly, Joe Garagiola, Pierre Laclede and Provel have in common? The movie star, the rapper, the baseball player, the French fur trader and the cheese all have a St. Louis connection.
Back in 1764, Laclede established a trading post on a bluff 18 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. With a surrounding area rich in natural resources and the river providing an easily navigable link to New Orleans, this new settlement seemed destined for success.
And prosper it did. After being governed by Spain and France the United States acquired the town in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis and Clark set off from nearby St. Charles on their 1804 trip to the Pacific. The arrival of the Zebulon M. Pike in 1817 inaugurated the steamboat era.
The 1904 World’s Fair—held at Forest Park, the crown jewel of the city's parks—celebrated the Louisiana Purchase centennial and put the city in the world spotlight. (This is the Judy Garland connection; in the film “Meet Me in St. Louis” Garland plays a 17-year-old whose family is leaving St. Louis for New York and will miss the extravaganza.) The fair introduced and popularized food items that have achieved who-hasn’t-had-one status, among them the hot dog and the waffle cone. And from this beginning comes the city’s reputation for regional specialties.
Provel? This mild and creamy blend of Swiss, provolone and cheddar cheeses is the defining ingredient in St. Louis-style pizza, which has a thin, crackery crust, a sweet tomato sauce and finely chopped toppings, that is then cut into square or rectangular slices.
Another specialty is toasted ravioli, a Sicilian concoction of pasta squares encasing meat or cheese, given a twist by being breaded and deep fried. In St. Louis, “toasted rav” typically has a ground beef filling and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top and is served with a side of marinara sauce.
All things Italian are found on the Hill, one of St. Louis' best-known neighborhoods. Even the fire hydrants are painted the colors of Italy's flag. In addition to primo Italian groceries, bakeries and restaurants, the Hill is noted for two baseball giants—Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola—who grew up on Elizabeth Avenue.
The city claims some famous music exports, too. Besides Nelly, the St. Louis area produced such luminaries as Chuck Berry and Miles Davis. Their brass stars are embedded in the sidewalk on Delmar Boulevard with other cultural contributors, collectively making up the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Then there’s the city’s architectural facets. Head over to Lindell Boulevard and prepare to be impressed by the turn-of-the-20th-century brick and stone mansions and the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, a massive Romanesque building. At the foot of Ashley Street along the downtown riverfront is the Ashley Street Power House, a squat building standing in stark contrast to its most prominent neighbor, Lumière Place. This glitzy casino/hotel complex is the latest salvo in an ongoing effort to re-establish downtown as a place to live and play.
But perhaps the most well-known symbol of the city is the 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch, which is the symbolic starting point for the arduous trek across the American West undertaken by countless 19th-century pioneers. Taking the tram to the observation room at the top for views of the city is a necessary sightseeing pilgrimage.
St. Louis, MO
AAA’s in-person hotel evaluations are unscheduled to ensure the inspector has an experience similar to that of members. To pass inspection, all hotels must meet the same rigorous standards for cleanliness, comfort and hospitality. These hotels receive a AAA Diamond designation that tells members what type of experience to expect.
The sales tax rate in the city of St. Louis is 8.49 percent. The city's lodging tax is 14.9 percent and there is a rental car tax of 7.82 percent.
Time and Temperature
(314) 321-2222 or (636) 441-8467
Barnes-Jewish Hospital, (314) 747-3000; Missouri Baptist Medical Center (Town and Country, Mo.), (314) 996-5000; St. Alexius Hospital, (314) 865-7000; St. Anthony's Medical Center, (314) 525-1000; Saint Louis University Hospital, (314) 577-8000.
I-270 and Riverview Dr. St. Louis, MO 63138. Phone:(314)869-7100
Lambert-St. Louis International Airport
Hertz offers discounts to AAA members; phone (314) 426-7555 or (800) 654-3080.
The Amtrak terminal, (800) 872-7245, is at 430 S. 15th St.
The Greyhound Lines Inc. terminal, (800) 231-2222, is at 430 S. 15th St.
Cab companies include St. Louis County Cab & Yellow Cab, (314) 991-5300 or (314) 993-8294; and Laclede, (314) 652-3456 or (314) 403-7000 (to request a taxi via text message). All cabs in St. Louis are on the meter system. Base fare is approximately $2 to $3.50 for the first mile, with a rate of $2 to $2.50 per mile. The base fare goes up $1 for each additional passenger. A fuel surcharge of at least $1 also is added to the fare, and there is a $4 surcharge for airport pick-ups.
Metro, the public transportation system—which includes MetroBus, the MetroLink light-rail train and the Metro Call-A-Ride para-transit van service—transports passengers throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. The base bus fare is $2; $1 (ages 5-12, ages 65+ and customers with disabilities). Exact cash fare is required. A MetroLink one-ride ticket is $2.50; $1.25 (ages 5-12, ages 65+ and customers with disabilities). A 2-hour system pass (with transfers) is $3; $1.50 (ages 5-12, ages 65+ and customers with disabilities), or $4 from Lambert Airport. Weekly and monthly passes also are available. For route information, current fares and hours of system operation contact MetroTransit Information Mon.-Fri. 7-7; phone (314) 231-2345, or (618) 271-2345 in Illinois.