Welcome to the Gateway to the NFED, the first official blog of the 2011 National Family Conference! We borrowed our inspiration for the blog name from the historical (and current) nickname for the city of St. Louis—The Gateway to the West.
The area where current day St. Louis resides was first settled in 1764 by Pierre Laclède and by 1765 the French made St. Louis the capital of Upper Louisiana. The US acquired St. Louis in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase and later the next year used the key location of the city as the launching point for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Many other explorers, settlers, and trappers began their expeditions from St. Louis, thereby gaining St. Louis the nickname of “The Gateway to the West.”
The late 1810s ushered in the Steamboat Era and St. Louis became a booming port of call. By the 1850s, St. Louis had become the largest city west of Pittsburgh and the second largest port in the US. St. Louis continued to grow and prosper through the 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1904, the city hosted the World’s Fair, which included the Olympic Games. The Fair’s 1200 acre site was designed by George Kessler on what would later become Forest Park and Washington University. Several of the buildings designed and built for the World’s Fair are still standing today, housing some of St. Louis’ amazing museums and attractions.
Of course, the most famous symbol of St. Louis’ role in westward expansion is the St. Louis Arch. Designed by Eero Saarinnen and Hannskari Bandel in 1947, the construction of the Arch did not actually begin until 1963 and took two years to complete. Standing at 630 feet, the Arch is the tallest man-made monument in the US. The monument opened to the public on June 10, 1967 and is currently one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world with over 4 million visitors a year.
Hopefully, you will have a chance to visit St. Louis’ “Gateway to the West” while you are in town for the National Family Conference! Welcome to the blog! We hope you continue reading as we provide local information and conference updates!