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St. Louis /seɪnt ˈluːɪs/ (French: Saint-Louis or St-Louis, [sɛ̃ lwi] ( listen)) is an independent city and a major United States port on the eastern line of the state of Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the population was 319,294, and a 2012 estimate put the population at 318,172, making it the 58th-largest U.S. city in 2012. The metropolitan St. Louis area, known as Greater St. Louis (CSA), is the 19th-largest metropolitan area in the United States with a population of 2,900,605.
The city of St. Louis was founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau, and named for Louis IX of France. After the Louisiana Purchase, it became a major port on the Mississippi River; in the late 19th century, it became the fourth-largest city in the United States. It seceded from St. Louis County in March 1877, allowing it to become an independent city and limiting its political boundaries. In 1904, it hosted the Louisiana Purchase Exposition and the 1904 Summer Olympics. The city’s population peaked in 1950, then began a long decline that continues in the 21st century. Immigration has increased, and it is the center of the largest Bosnian population in the world outside their homeland.
The economy of St. Louis relies on service, manufacturing, trade, transportation of goods, and tourism. The city is home to several corporations, including Peabody Energy, Ameren, Ralcorp and Sigma-Aldrich. St. Louis is home to three professional sports teams: the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful Major League Baseball clubs; the hockey St. Louis Blues, and the football St. Louis Rams. The city is commonly identified with the Gateway Arch, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in downtown St. Louis.
According to the United States Census Bureau, St. Louis has a total area of 66.2 square miles (171.3 km²), of which 61.9 square miles (160.4 km²) is land and 4.2 square miles (11.0 km² or 6.39%) is water. The city is built primarily on bluffs and terraces that rise 100–200 feet above the western banks of the Mississippi River, in the Midwestern United States just south of the Missouri-Mississippi confluence. Much of the area is a fertile and gently rolling prairie that features low hills and broad, shallow valleys. Both the Mississippi River and the Missouri River have cut large valleys with wide flood plains.
St. Louis lies in the transitional zone between the humid continental climate type and the humid subtropical climate type (Köppen Dfa and Cfa, respectively), with neither large mountains nor large bodies of water to moderate its temperature. It is subject to both cold Arctic air and hot, humid tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico. The city has four distinct seasons. Spring is the wettest season and produces severe weather ranging from tornadoes to winter storms. Summers are hot and humid; temperatures of 90 °F (32 °C) or higher occur 43 days a year.
Fall is mild and sunny, with lower humidity and can produce intermittent bouts of heavy rainfall, with the first snow usually falling around December 4. Winters can be brisk and stimulating, however extended periods of very cold temperatures are rare; high temperatures below freezing occur fewer than 25 days per year, on average. While each winter typically has at least one major snowstorm accumulating 4 inches or more, it typically rains more often than it snows during St. Louis winters, however, winter is the driest season. Winter storm systems, such as Alberta clippers and Panhandle hooks, can bring heavy freezing rain, ice pellets, and snowfall, typically followed by a few days of clear but very cold weather. Daily high temperatures during winter average about 45 degrees, however, so accumulated snow typically melts quickly.
St. Louis grew slowly until the American Civil War, when industrialization and immigration sparked a boom. After years of immigration and expansion, it reached its peak population in 1950. That year, the Census Bureau reported St. Louis’ population as 82% White and 17.9% African American. After World War II, St. Louis began losing population to the suburbs, first because of increased demand for new housing, the ease of commuting by subsidized highways, and later, white flight. St. Louis has lost 62.7% of its population since 1950 United States Census, the highest percent of any city that had a population of 100,000 or more at the time of the 1950 Census. Detroit and Youngstown, Ohio are the only other cities to have seen population declines of at least 60% in the same time frame.
According to the 2010 United States Census, St. Louis had 319,294 people living in 142,057 households, of which 67,488 households were families. The population density was 5,158.2 people per square mile (1,990.6/km²). About 24% of the population was 19 or younger, 9% were 20 to 24, 31% were 25 to 44, 25% were 45 to 64, and 11% were 65 or older. The median age was about 34 years.
The population was about 49.2% African American, 43.9% White (42.2% Non-Hispanic White), 2.9% Asian, 0.3% Native American/Alaska Native, and 2.4% reporting two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.5% of the population.
Based on historical residential patterns with an origin in discrimination, the African-American population is mostly centered in the north side of the city (the area north of Delmar Boulevard is 94.0% black, compared with 35.0% in the central corridor and 26.0% in the south side of St. Louis). Among the Asian-American population in the city, the largest ethnic group is Vietnamese (0.9%), followed by Chinese (0.6%) and Asian Indians (0.5%). The Vietnamese community is most prevalent in the Dutchtown neighborhood; Chinese are concentrated in the Central West End. People of Mexican descent are the largest Latino group, and make up 2.2% of St. Louis’ population. They have the highest concentration in the Dutchtown, Benton Park West (Cherokee Street), and Gravois Park neighborhoods. An estimated 70,000 Bosnians live in the metro area, the largest population outside their homeland. St. Louis is home to the only Bosnian-language newspaper in the U.S.
In 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $29,156, and the median income for a family was $32,585. Males had a median income of $31,106; females, $26,987. Per capita income was $18,108.
Some 19% of the city’s housing units were vacant, and slightly less than half of these were vacant structures not for sale or rent.
In 2010, St. Louis’ per-capita rate of online charitable donations and volunteerism were among the highest among major U.S cities.
As of 2010, 91.05% (270,934) of St. Louis city residents age 5 and older spoke English at home as a primary language, while 2.86% (8,516) spoke Spanish, 0.91% (2,713) Bosnian, 0.74% (2,200) Vietnamese, 0.50% (1,495) African languages, 0.50% (1,481) Chinese, and French was spoken as a main language by 0.45% (1,341) of the population over the age of five. In total, 8.95% (26,628) of St. Louis’ population age 5 and older spoke a mother language other than English.