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27, July 2010

A Brief History of…Minnie Wood Memorial Square

In south St. Louis there is a small park with a playground located on S. Broadway and Meramec. I have been by the park a few times in my life and never really knew the name of it or for whom it was named…until recently. After preliminary research involving how the park was named, I was intrigued by the information about this woman. Her name was Minnie Wood and the park is called Minnie Wood Memorial Square.

Born in Germany as Minnie Sommers, she and her parents immigrated to Columbia, Illinois, in 1851. This is a town known for its German heritage. Read more »

28, June 2010

First Lady of the Saint Louis Zoo

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of articles exploring the history of the Saint Louis Zoo as it celebrates its centennial. The History Museum has partnered with the Zoo to develop an exhibit chronicling its first 100 years. The Zootennial exhibit is located on the Zoo grounds in the 1917 Elephant House, now Peabody Hall. Read more »

8, June 2010

A Brief History of…Beer in St. Louis

St. Louis has been in the brewing business for 200 years. Neighborhood breweries sprung up across the city throughout the 19th century. Before refrigeration, ice from the Mississippi River was placed in the caves to provide the constant cool temperatures needed to brew and store beer. Since beer was most often distributed by horse-drawn wagons, the early breweries tended to serve a neighborhood clientele via the local saloons and taverns.

In 1848, St. Louis city directories named 16 breweries throughout the city. Two years later there were 24 breweries. Read more »

4, May 2010

The Saint Louis Zoo: If Not Forest Park, Where?

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles exploring the history of the Saint Louis Zoo as it celebrates its centennial. The History Museum has partnered with the Zoo to develop an exhibit chronicling its first 100 years. Zootennial will open May 15 and will be located on the Zoo grounds in the 1917 Elephant House, now Peabody Hall. Read more »

14, April 2010

A Brief History of...Bagnell Dam

Most St. Louisans probably don’t know that Lake of the Ozarks, where they head for summertime fun, is the source of their electricity. Bagnell Dam was constructed to impound water from the Osage River to produce electric power for St. Louis and other parts of Missouri. The resulting lake is now a major tourist attraction in the middle of the state. Its shoreline is even longer than the Pacific coastline of California, measuring 1,100 miles. In the article “Seeing the Lake from End to End” in the November 1932 issue of Union Electric Magazine , G. V. Read more »

30, March 2010

A Brief History of...the Pony Express

150 years ago this weekend, the first Pony Express rider took off from St. Joseph, Missouri, with his bags of mail. On April 3, 1860, freight company magnates William H. Russell, William B. Waddell, and Alexander Majors founded the mail system to satisfy the need for faster communication with the West, especially with the Civil War looming. Riders braved dangerous terrain to deliver letters that were written on tissue paper wrapped in oil paper. At first, people paid a whopping $5 to mail a letter weighing half an ounce or less; that was later reduced to $2.50. Read more »

1, March 2010

A Brief History of…the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners

Every now and then there is a call to abolish the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners and give control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to the mayor’s office. This system goes back to the “metropolitan police” bill of March 1861, which established four residents of St. Louis as police commissioners with the mayor as the fifth member. Members would be appointed by the governor (at the time, Claiborne Fox Jackson) and paid $1,000 per year of their four-year term, according to Allen E. Wagner’s book Good Order and Safety: A History of the St. Read more »

28, January 2010

A Brief History of...7Up in a Down Economy

Two weeks before the stock market crash of 1929, a St. Louis ad man named Charles L. Grigg introduced a new beverage with a not-so-catchy name: “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda.” “Bib-label” referred to the use of paper labels resembling bibs that would be placed over the tops of unlabeled bottles, and “lithiated” advertised the ingredient lithium citrate, a mood-enhancing drug. Read more »