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Saint Louis County, Missouri
Seal of Saint Louis County, Missouri
Map of Missouri highlighting Saint Louis County
Location in the state of Missouri
Map of USA MO
Missouri's location in the U.S.
Founded October 1, 1812
Seat Clayton
Largest city Florissant
 - Total
 - Land
 - Water

524 sq mi (1,357 km²)
508 sq mi (1,316 km²)
16 sq mi (41 km²), 3.03%
 - (2011)
 - Density

1,966/sq mi (759.08/km²)
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5

St. Louis County is a county located in the U.S. state of Missouri. Its county seat is Clayton.[1] St. Louis County is part of the St. Louis Metro Area wherein the independent city of St. Louis and its suburbs in St. Louis County, as well as the surrounding counties in both Missouri and Illinois all together account for a total population of over 2.8 million people. St. Louis County borders the City of St. Louis, which is independent from St. Louis County. The 2010 Census put the county population at 998,954, more than three times that of its adjoining namesake city.[2]


The county was organized in 1812 and was originally a French colonial district (French Louisiana), named for the French King Louis IX, known as Saint Louis. Its original county seat was in various buildings including the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis by the Gateway Arch.

In 1877, the City of St. Louis separated itself from the county, creating an independent city. The city in August 1876 narrowly approved the separation while county residents overwhelmingly opposed the separation. City residents had argued they wanted to be "rid of county taxes and state influence over county government." At the time the city had 350,000 residents while the rural county had 30,000. The rural county also had only 150 miles of gravel roads. The election was challenged in the courts and they were formally separated in March 1877.[3]

The county's former courthouse in St. Louis city became city property. The new, and then much smaller, county government met at the Mount Olive Hotel, near today's Hanley Road and Olive Boulevard in what today is University City, Missouri until deciding on a new location for the courthouse. The county considered locations for a new courthouse in Kirkwood, Missouri (which claims to be the first planned suburb in St. Louis County and first suburb built west of the Mississippi River) and Florissant, Missouri (then in an area known as St. Ferdinand township). A farmer named Ralph Clayton (who was 90 at the time) donated 100 acres in what would become Clayton, Missouri for the site that was ultimately chosen in part because it was on the route of the Hodiamont narrow gauge street cars which stretched from Pine Lawn through Normandy and Kinloch to Florissant.[4] Clayton said the site "a half day's ride from the city" and more accessible than other villages in the county.[5] The first $38,000 courthouse in the newly defined county opened December 1878 west of Hanley Road and north of Clayton Road. A new courthouse was built in 1945 (it is today's County Police headquarters). The original 1878 courthouse was torn down in 1971 to be replaced by county government plaza and modern six-story courthouse.[3]

In 1977, St. Louis County was terrorized by three car bombings, which killed two people. The bomber was never caught.

The county became larger than the city in the 1970 U.S. Census when it had 951,353 compared to the city's 750,026. With the city dropping to its lowest population since the 19th century in the 2010 U.S. Census and the county also dropping in population for the first time in its history there has been talk of the two entities reuniting.[6]


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 524 square miles (1,360 km2), of which,508 square miles (1,320 km2) of it is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) of it (3.03%) is water.

Natural boundariesEdit

The Missouri River forms the northern border with St. Charles County, exclusive of a few areas where the river has changed its course. The Meramec River forms most of its southern border with Jefferson County. To the east is the City of St. Louis and the Mississippi River. The western boundary with Franklin County is the north-south line where the distance between the Meramec and Missouri Rivers is the shortest, bisecting the City of Pacific roughly 2 blocks east of Hwy OO/F (First street).


The foothills of the Ozark Mountains begin in southwestern St. Louis County, with most of the rest of the county being a fairly level plateau. This western part of the county is the least developed, due to rugged topography. Bluffs along the Mississippi in the south of the county rise about 200–300 feet above the river. A major floodplain area is the Chesterfield Valley, in the western part of the county, along the Missouri River, formerly called "Gumbo Flats" after its rich, dark soil; it was submerged by at least ten feet of water during the Great Flood of 1993, but recent development there is protected by a higher levee. The Columbia Bottom is a floodplain in the northeast of the county at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers; this is a conservation area open to the public. The Missouri Bottom area between the two other floodplains is largely agricultural, but is being increasingly developed. The River des Peres drains the interior of county before flowing underground into the City of St. Louis and then resurfacing to form the boundary between southern portions of St. Louis City and St. Louis County. Other streams include Coldwater Creek, Bonhomme Creek, and Creve Coeur Creek, flowing into the Missouri River; Keifer Creek and Grand Glaize Creek, flowing into the Meramec River; Deer Creek and Gravois Creek, flowing into the River des Peres; and Maline Creek, flowing into the Mississippi River.


The bedrock is mainly limestone and dolomite, and much of the county near the rivers is Karst terrain, with numerous caves, sinkholes, and springs. No igneous or metamorphic rock is exposed on the surface. A major outcropping of the St. Peter Sandstoneformation, a fine white sandstone used for making clear glass, is mined in the southwest corner of the county in Pacific. Brick clay mining was once a major industry in the county. The Charbonier Bluff along the Missouri River is an outcropping of coal, and was used a fueling station for steamboats. The "St. Louis Anticline", an underground formation, has small petroleum deposits in north part of the county.

Flora and faunaEdit

Before European settlement, the area was prairie and open parklike forest, maintained by Native Americans via burning. Trees are mainly oak, maple, and hickory, similar to the forests of the Ozarks; common understory trees include Eastern redbud, serviceberry, and flowering dogwood. Riparian areas are heavily forested with mainlyAmerican sycamore. By the 1920s most of the timber in the county was harvested; since that time, large parks and undeveloped areas in the western and southern parts of the county have grown dense forest cover. Old pastures are usually colonized with Eastern red cedar. Most of the residential area of the county is planted with large native shade trees. In Autumn, the changing color of the trees is notable. St. Louis County has the most recorded native species of plants in the state, but this is probably due to the intensive botanical research done in the area. Most species here are typical of the Eastern Woodland; but some southern species are found in swampland, and typical northern species survive in sheltered hollows. Invasive species, most notably Japanese Honeysuckle, are common in some homesteads converted to parks; these are actively removed.

Large mammals include growing populations of whitetail deer and coyotes, which are becoming increasingly urbanized. Eastern gray squirrel, cottontail rabbit, and other rodents are abundant, as well as opossum, beaver, muskrat, raccoon, and skunk. Large bird species include wild turkey, Canada goose, mallard duck, various raptors like the turkey vulture and red-tailed Hawk, as well as shorebirds, including the great egret and great blue heron. Winter populations of bald eagles are found by the Mississippi River around the Chain of Rocks Bridge. The county is on the Mississippi Flyway, used by migrating birds, and has a large variety of small bird species, common to the eastern U.S. The Eurasian tree sparrow, an introduced species, is limited in North America to the counties surrounding St. Louis.

Frogs are commonly found in the springtime, especially after extensive wet periods. Common species include American toad and species of chorus frogs, commonly called "spring peepers" that are found in nearly every pond. Some years have outbreaks of cicadas or ladybugs. Mosquitos and houseflies are common insect nuisances; because of this, windows are nearly universally fitted with screens, and "screened-in" porches are common in homes of the area. Populations of honeybees have sharply declined in recent years, and numerous species of pollinator insects have filled their ecological niche.


St. Louis County has a continental climate, and has neither large mountains nor large bodies of water to moderate its temperature. The area is affected by both cold Canadian Arctic air, and also hot, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico. The county has four distinct seasons. Spring is the wettest season and produces erratic severe weather ranging from tornadoes to winter storms. Summers are hot, and the humidity can make the heat index rise to temperatures above 100 °F (38 °C). Fall is mild with lower humidity and can produce intermittent bouts of heavy rainfall with the first snow flurries usually forming in late November. Winters are cool to cold with periodic snow and temperatures often below freezing. Winter storm systems, such as Alberta Clippers, can bring days of heavy freezing rain, ice pellets, and snowfall.

The average annual temperature for the years 1971–2000, recorded at Lambert–St. Louis International Airport, is 56.3 °F (13.5 °C), and average precipitation is 36 inches (914 mm). The average high temperature in July is 88.4 °F (32 °C), and the average low temperature in January is 22.6 °F (−6 °C), although these values are often exceeded. Temperatures of 0 °F (−18 °C) or below occur 3 days per year on average.[7] The highest temperature ever recorded in St. Louis was 115 °F (46 °C), on July 14, 1954, while the lowest temperature on record is −23 °F (−31 °C), on January 29, 1873[8]

Winter is the driest season, averaging about 6 inches of total precipitation. Springtime (March through May), is typically the wettest season, with just under 10.5 inches. Dry spells of one or two weeks duration are common during the growing seasons.

Thunderstorms can be expected on 40 to 50 days per year. A few of them will be severe with locally destructive winds and large hail, and occasionally accompanied by tornadoes.[9] A period of unseasonably warm weather late in Autumn known as Indian summer is common – roses will still be in bloom as late as November or early December in some years.

Other geographyEdit

The largest natural lake in the state is Creve Coeur Lake, which was originally an oxbow of the nearby Missouri River and is now the centerpiece of a popular county park.

Manchester Road (Route 100) follows an ancient path westward out of St. Louis, following the boundary between the Missouri and Meramec watersheds, and is one of only two ways to leave the county without crossing rivers (the other being State Highway T.)

The Sinks is a karst area in the far northern part of the county, with numerous sinkholes.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1820 10,049
1830 14,125 40.6%
1840 35,979 154.7%
1850 104,978 191.8%
1860 190,524 81.5%
1870 351,189 84.3%
1880 31,888 −90.9%
1890 36,307 13.9%
1900 50,040 37.8%
1910 82,417 64.7%
1920 100,737 22.2%
1930 211,593 110.0%
1940 274,230 29.6%
1950 406,349 48.2%
1960 703,532 73.1%
1970 951,353 35.2%
1980 973,896 2.4%
1990 993,529 2.0%
2000 1,016,315 2.3%
2010 998,954 −1.7%
Est. 2013 1,000,169 −1.6%
Independent City of St. Louis
seceded from the County in 1876. Population
of the City of St. Louis in 1880 was 350,518. [10]
2011 estimate

As of the census of 2010, there were 998,954 people. There were 404,765 households with 263,423 family households. The population density was 1,966 people per square mile (773/km²). There were 423,749 housing units at an average density of 834 per square mile (322/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 70.3% White (68.9% Non-Hispanic White), 23.3% African American, 0.2% Native American, 3.5% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.9% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.5% of the population.[11]

There were 404,765 households out of which 31.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.00% were married couplesliving together, 12.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.00% were non-families. 28.00% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the county the population was spread out with 25.20% under the age of 18, 8.30% from 18 to 24, 29.00% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 14.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 90.00 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.70 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $50,532, and the median income for a family was $61,680. Males had a median income of $45,714 versus $30,278 for females. The per capita income for the county was $27,595. About 5.00% of families and 6.90% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.30% of those under age 18 and 5.30% of those age 65 or over. St. Louis County is the most affluent county in the state of Missouri.


As of 2009, the largest employment sectors in St. Louis County are education and health (25.2%), trade and transportation (19.6%), and professional business services (12.7%).[12] The county also has the highest per capita income in the state of Missouri ($49,727), and nearly one-fourth of the state workforce is employed in St. Louis County.[13] The St. Louis County Economic Council is the economic development agency of St. Louis County, and it is operated under the authority of the St. Louis County government.[14] Among the largest employers in the county are Boeing (16,000 employees), Washington University in St. Louis (13,200 employees), and SSM Healthcare (12,400 employees).[12]

Unemployment in St. Louis County is well below the national rate of 7.7% (November 2012) at 6.5% (October); for monthly unemployment numbers since June 2012, see below:

Arts and cultureEdit

Culturally, St. Louis County is often divided into Mid, North, West and South sections. North County lies north of Interstate 70, West County lies west of Interstate 270, South County lies south of Interstate 44 and Mid County lies in the middle of the three main bordering highways (I-70, I-270 & I-44) and the St. Louis county-city line.

West CountyEdit

Some sections of West County are inhabited by pro athletes, professionals and new wealth, creating a large area of high-income residents. Communities include Ballwin, Chesterfield, Clarkson Valley, Des Peres, Ellisville, Eureka, Manchester, Town and Country, Twin Oaks, Valley Park, and Wildwood. West County is home to two major shopping centers: Chesterfield Mall and West County Center. Local school districts include the Parkway School District and the Rockwood School District along with numerous private schools. Leisure spots in West County include Bellerive Country Club and Faust Park, which is home to the House.

Mid CountyEdit

Mid County is made up of the central and eastern portion of St. Louis County. The bulk of Mid County lies just west of the City of St. Louis. Municipalities include Clayton, Maplewood, Brentwood, Webster Groves, Richmond Heights, Frontenac, Warson Woods, Ladue, Kirkwood, Rock Hill, Olivette, University City, St. Ann, and Overland. With access to Interstate 70 and Interstate 44 to the north and south of Mid County, access to Interstate 270 and Interstate 170 on the west and east and Interstate 64 running through the middle of Mid County, the area is never far from highway transportation. The closest major mall to Downtown St. Louis is the St. Louis Galleria located in Richmond Heights. Other popular areas are The Loop on Delmar Blvd. in University City and Westport Plaza in Maryland Heights. Clayton is also known for its wide variety of local shops, boutiques and original restaurants.

North CountyEdit

North County is home to Boeing's Defense, Space & Security unit, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, and Emerson Electric Company. The population is one of the most diverse in St. Louis County. Public transportation has been beneficial to North County and was the first area of Metro St. Louis served by the metropolitan rail system, MetroLink. North County boasts major malls including Jamestown Mall in Florissant and St. Louis Outlet Mall in Hazelwood. Cities of North County also include Bellefontaine Neighbors, Bridgeton, Ferguson, Jennings and Spanish Lake. Residents of some communities, such as Bridgeton and Hazelwood, often distinguish themselves from locations further north by labeling their area as "Northwest County." North St. Louis County is not only diverse in racial makeup but also by socioeconomic means. There are numerous black and mixed raced villages located in North-Central county along the Natural Bridge Corridor east of Interstate 170 including Glen Echo Park, Bellerive, Bel-Ridge, Bel-Nor, and Pasadena Hills, second to Olympia Fields, Illinois as the most affluent majority black community north of the Mason-Dixon line. Some of the inner-ring suburbs located between Interstate 70 and Interstate 270 along the city-county line show past and current signs of white flight.

South CountyEdit

While largely populated, much of South County is unincorporated. It is the mosthomogeneousarea within St. Louis county and major communities include Fenton, Lemay, Mehlville, Oakville, Affton, and Sunset Hills. The start of the Ozark Mountains and Ozark plateau begin in South St. Louis county and neighboring Jefferson County. Many communities have an abundance of gently rolling hills.

Parks and recreationEdit

St. Louis County owns and maintains more than forty parks as part of its county park system, including playgrounds and nature preserves. It also operates several recreation centers, the Museum of Transportation, and the Affton Community Center. In addition to parks owned by St. Louis County, the county is home to three Missouri state parks: Babler, Castlewood, and Route 66 State Park, and part of the Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge and the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site. Several municipalities in the county also own and maintain their own park systems.


St. Louis County government is divided between executive power vested in the County Executive of St. Louis County and legislative power vested in the St. Louis County Council. The current county executive is Charlie Dooley, who was re-elected November 2, 2010. The county executive's term is four years without term limits, and the position is elected by the population of the entire county. The council consists of seven members elected from separate districts within the county, with four year terms beginning on January 1 following elections. In 1950, St. Louis County became the first Missouri county to adopt a home-rule charter under the Missouri Constitution, and the current charter was adopted by voters on November 6, 1979.

For the one-third of the county population that lives in unincorporated areas, the county government provides services such as zoning, code enforcement, refuse disposal, and police protection. In addition to the county-level government, there are 90 municipal governments in St. Louis County that also provide services.[16] These include:

Crime and public safetyEdit

The St. Louis County Police Department operates under the authority of the St. Louis County government and is the largest law enforcement agency in St. Louis County. Although it is directly responsible for law enforcement in unincorporated areas of the county, several municipalities contract with the county police for public safety services.[17] Municipalities that maintain service agreements with the county police are Black Jack, Clarkson Valley, Dellwood, Fenton, Grantwood Village, Green Park, Hanley Hills, Jennings, Marlborough, Norwood Court, Pasadena Hills, Twin Oaks, Valley Park, Vinita Terrace, Wilbur Park, Wildwood, and Winchester.[17] Other municipalities in the county maintain their own police departments.

St. Louis County fire department services are provided by 20 municipal fire departments and 23 fire protection districts.[18] The fire protection districts exist as independent, taxing governments that are unrelated to the St. Louis County government, while the municipal fire departments are funded through municipal taxes and are administered by their respective cities.[18] Municipal fire departments include Berkeley, Brentwood, Clayton, Crestwood, Des Peres, Ferguson, Frontenac, Glendale, Hazelwood, Jennings, Kirkwood, Ladue, Maplewood, Olivette, Pacific, Richmond Heights, Rock Hill, Shrewsbury, University City, and Webster Groves. Independent fire districts include Affton, Black Jack, Community, Creve Coeur, Eureka, Fenton, Florissant Valley, Kinloch, Lemay, Maryland Heights, Mehlville, Metro West, Mid-County, Moline, Monarch, Normandy, Pattonville Bridgeton Terrace, Riverview, Robertson, Spanish Lake, Valley Park, West County EMS and West Overland.


Presidential Election Results 1960–2012
2012[19] 56.2% 294,735 42.5% 223,102
2008[20] 59.5% 333,123 39.6% 221,705
2004 54.4% 295,284 45.1% 244,969
2000 51.5% 250,631 46.2% 224,689
1996 48.8% 225,524 42.4% 196,096
1992 44.1% 235,760 35.2% 188,285
1988 45.1% 216,534 54.7% 262,784
1984 36.0% 173,144 64.0% 307,684
1980 39.8% 192,796 54.4% 263,518
1976 43.5% 196,915 54.6% 246,988
1972 37.8% 160,801 62.2% 264,147
1968 43.0% 165,786 46.8% 180,355
1964 61.3% 213,658 38.7% 134,962
1960 51.3% 166,508 48.7% 157,992

As of 2012, there are 763,982 registered voters in St. Louis County.[21] Since 1992, the county has favored Democratic candidates in the presidential elections, although the western part of the county tends to support the Republican Party. It was one of only three counties in Missouri that Democrats won in the 2004 presidential election. In the 2008 presidential primaries, 41% of Republicans in St. Louis County voted for John McCain with 37% voting for Mitt Romney. For Democrats in St. Louis County, 63% voted for Barack Obama while 36% voted for Hillary Clinton. In total 187,234 votes were cast for Democratic Party candidates and 95,437 votes were cast for the Republican Party candidates.


Education in St. Louis County is provided by 24 school districts, private schools, both a unified public library system and several municipal libraries, and several colleges and universities.

School districts operating within St. Louis County include Affton, Bayless, Brentwood, Clayton, Ferguson-Florissant, Hancock Place, Hazelwood, Kirkwood, Jennings, Ladue, Lindbergh, Maplewood-Richmond Heights, Mehlville, Normandy, Parkway, Pattonville, Ritenour, Riverview Gardens, Rockwood, Special School District, University City, Valley Park, and Webster Groves.[22] Several of the school districts in the county also maintain a voluntary student transfer agreement with the St. Louis Public Schools that allows county residents to attend magnet schools in the city of St. Louis. In addition to public school districts, several private schools operate in the county. These include independent secular and religious schools, and Catholic parochial schools operated by the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

St. Louis County libraries include the unified St. Louis County Library and several municipal library systems. Public and non-profit private colleges and universities in St. Louis County include Concordia University, Fontbonne University, Harris-Stowe State College, Maryville University, Missouri Baptist University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis Community College, St. Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Webster University.[22]


Major freeways and highwaysEdit

Health careEdit

In 1927 a one million dollar bond was issued allocating funds for the construction of the first St. Louis County Hospital.[23] Construction of the 200-bed, non-segregated hospital began in 1929 in the city of Clayton. The hospital opened in July 1931 and ran until June 1986.[24]

Current list of hospitals in St. Louis County:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  2. ^ "2010 Census Data". [U.S Census Bureau]. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  3. ^ a b BY TIM O'NEIL • > 314-340-8132 (2011-04-17). "A Look Back: Ralph Clayton gave land for county seat". Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  4. ^ "St Louis County Parks and Recreation". Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  5. ^ "History". 1913-04-14. Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  6. ^ Huber, Joe (2010-05-03). "The History and Possibilities of a St. Louis City-County Reunification". nextSTL. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  7. ^ 2001 ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI (STL). Weather Explained, Volume 4. 2006. Last accessed December 4, 2006.
  8. ^ Welcome to the Top 10. NOAA's National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office. Last accessed December 4, 2006.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Historical, demographic, economic, and social data: the United States, 1790-1970". Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, Ann Arbor, Michigan. 
  11. ^ American FactFinder - Results
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^ a b
  19. ^ "State of Missouri - County Reporting (St. Louis County) November 6, 2012".^St.%20Louis%20County^011656688155. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  20. ^ "State of Missouri - County Reporting (St. Louis County), December 2, 2008". Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  21. ^ "SOS, Missouri - Elections: Registered Voters in Missouri 2012". October 24, 2012. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b
  23. ^ "History of St. Louis County Hospital." Saint Louis County Health. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.
  24. ^ "History of St. Louis County Hospital." Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis. Retrieved on August 24, 2009.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 38°38′N 90°26′W / 38.64, -90.44

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