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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Powell

St. Louis Riverfront: Where History and Commerce Flow Together

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

The St. Louis Riverfront is a historic and bustling area along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. Spanning both the Illinois and Missouri sides of the river, this iconic stretch of waterfront has played a pivotal role in the city's history, serving as a gateway for exploration, trade, and transportation. Today, the St. Louis Riverfront remains a dynamic and vibrant destination that offers a blend of history, commerce, and recreation for residents and visitors alike. More can be found here.

A Gateway to the West

The St. Louis Riverfront holds a special place in American history as the starting point for numerous westward journeys during the era of exploration and expansion. The famous Lewis and Clark Expedition embarked from this spot in 1804, exploring the uncharted lands of the Louisiana Territory. Today, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center pays homage to this historic journey, offering visitors insights into the challenges and triumphs of this pivotal expedition. Learn more about Citygarden Sculpture Park: Where Art and Nature Converge in Urban Oasis.

Historical Landmarks

Along the St. Louis Riverfront, historical landmarks stand as testaments to the city's rich past. The iconic Gateway Arch, a symbol of St. Louis and the United States' westward expansion, is a prominent feature of the riverfront skyline. Designed by architect Eero Saarinen, the arch stands at 630 feet, offering breathtaking views of the city and the river. Visitors can take a tram ride to the top for a panoramic experience or explore the Museum of Westward Expansion beneath the arch.

Commerce and Industry

Throughout its history, the St. Louis Riverfront has been a hub of commerce and industry. Its strategic location along the Mississippi River made it a crucial trading center for goods traveling along and across the nation. Warehouses, factories, and bustling markets once lined the riverbanks, contributing to the city's economic growth. While the landscape has evolved over the years, the riverfront area continues to play a role in trade and commerce, hosting events and festivals celebrating local businesses and artisans.

Recreation and Entertainment

Today, the St. Louis Riverfront offers diverse recreational and entertainment opportunities. The historic Laclede's Landing district, nestled along the cobblestone streets near the river, is a popular destination for dining, shopping, and nightlife. The area retains its historic charm while offering a contemporary mix of restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues catering to locals and visitors.

Riverfront Parks and Green Spaces

The St. Louis Riverfront is also home to several parks and green spaces that provide a welcome escape from the urban bustle. The Riverfront Trail, a scenic pathway that follows the river's edge, offers a picturesque route for walking, jogging, and cycling. Parks like the Gateway Arch National Park and Kiener Plaza provide inviting spaces for relaxation and outdoor activities and host events and concerts that bring the community together.

Cultural Celebrations and Events

Throughout the year, the St. Louis Riverfront comes alive with cultural celebrations and events that showcase the city's vibrant spirit. The Fair Saint Louis festival, held around Independence Day, features live music, fireworks, and family-friendly activities. The Riverfront Times Music Showcase and other music festivals highlight the city's rich musical heritage and offer a platform for local artists to shine.


The St. Louis Riverfront is a testament to the city's history, culture, and ongoing evolution. From its role as a starting point for westward exploration to its present-day status as a vibrant hub of commerce, recreation, and entertainment, the riverfront area reflects the dynamic spirit of St. Louis. Whether visitors are admiring the Gateway Arch, strolling along the Riverfront Trail, or enjoying a meal in Laclede's Landing, they are immersed in an experience that bridges the past with the present, reminding us of the vital role that the riverfront continues to play in shaping the identity of the city.


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