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Blacks in Flight mural at St. Louis-Lambert International Airport



    The city rises as high as the Gateway Arch national landmark and as wide as the nearby Cahokia Mounds of an ancient Native American culture. A family-friendly fact, St. Louis has more free family attractions than any destination outside the nation’s capitol. Award-winning St. Louis Zoo offers one of the best, simulated-natural habitats for elephants and riverbank animals. As the home to McDonnell Aircraft, the city’s aeronautic heritage attracted many engineers to the region, which led to a robust St. Louis Science Center that generously brain-teases and pleases. Grant’s Farm, Six Flags St. Louis Theme Park and Hurricane Harbor offer enough kiddie rides, thrill rides and wet rides to gobble up a day or three.

   An American Heritage jewel by the Mississippi River, Downtown St. Louis soars on several levels. A restored nightclub and dining district, LaCledes Landing, echoes the city’s past as a French trading post. Shortly after President Jefferson completed the Louisiana Purchase from France, Lewis, Clark and their slave guide York, departed St. Louis on their epic journey to chart the west. The Dred Scott Court decision was made here that led to the Civil War. In the 1890s, St. Louis rivaled Chicago in its scale of commerce and buildings. St. Louis held such international stature that in 1904, both a World's Fair and an Olympics were held here and many of their remnants have been restored.

   Signaling its status as a crossroads city, Union Station was America's largest and arguably, its most ornate, train station. Today, the station is a popular, re-imagined dining and shopping complex. Judging by downtown’s outstanding venues and patronage for the NFL Rams at the Edward Jones Dome, MLB Cardinals at New Busch Stadium, and the NHL Blues at Scottrade Center, St. Louis is madly in love with its pro sports teams. And $3.5 billion more is being spent on a rejuvenated riverfront, casinos and residential lofts downtown.

   In an odd twist, St. Louis' primary cultural district is located a couple miles west near St. Louis University. Grand Center District (map) is home to 30 organizations who give the city a cultural focal point. Further west, Loop District buzzes with activity for theater, concert and restaurant patrons. Anheuser-Busch offers a thirst-quenching beer tour just south of downtown as well.

   Sheldon Art Galleries, Museum of Westward Expansion, Museum of Transportation, Forest Park, St. Louis Science Center, Missouri History Museum, and Missouri Botanical Gardens gratefully acknowledge American Indians, French, Spanish, and African Americans shaped the region’s identity. As quiet as it’s kept, St. Louis is a seminal contributor to America's musical legacies of Ragtime, Blues, Gospel, Jazz, R&B, Rock & Roll and Hip-Hop. Visit places where Scott Joplin, Josephine Baker, Katherine Dunham, Ike & Tina Turner, Fontella “Rescue Me” Bass, Miles Davis, Chuck Berry and Nelly spent formative days of their careers.

   Its a great town for Hip-Hop, Jazz, Blues, R&B, Comedy and Cospel on Sunday. Its also part of the Barbeque Fearsome Foursome: Kansas City, St. Louis, Memphis and Chicago. Given the city’s aeronautical heritage, it has the nation’s best mural honoring Black aviators at St. Louis International Airport. One of America’s most profound inventors, George Washington Carver, is celebrated in grand style at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The ever-expanding collection of Black World History Wax Museum is a time capsule of major Black historical figures, events and artifacts. Underground Railroad sites and one of the oldest Black churches in the Midwest survive in The Ville District. Enjoy one of America’s most eclectic Bed & Breakfasts near Grand Center and a Black-owned hotel next to Americas Center downtown. In all St. Louis is an excellent Black heritage destination.

   National landmarks, well-funded venues, distinctive musical heritage, a Route 66 and border state location are attracting more Americans like flocks of migrating birds rediscovering old wetlands. Like the images of those celebrated Black aviators, let St. Louis take your spirit aflight.

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