The city of Saint Louis, in the stale of Missouri, is situated on the west bank of the Mississippi river, in
the county of Saint Louis, of which it is the seat of government. It is in latitude 38°, 37′, 2s″, north, and
longitude 90°, 15′, 30″, west of Greenwich.
The site of Saint Louis is both commanding and beautiful; high, without being precipitous, and gently
undulating, affording easy drainage, and sufficiently level, without being Hat, to extend every advantage for
building and beautifying purposes.
The plane of the wharf or Front-street, is thirty-two feet above low water mark. From thence to Fourth
street, the streets rise fifty-nine feat to the first summit, which is a plane occupied by Fourth, Fifth, and, in
part, by Sixth streets. From thence, in going west, and taking the center of the city for observation,
the ground gently declines to Thirteenth street, when we again commence a gradual ascent to Seventeenth street,
where, at the intersection of Olive street, we are ninety feet above the wharf.
From this point we again gradually descend IV Bome distance, then again ascend to another plane at
Beaumont street, beyond which the land beautifully undulates until we reach Grand avenue, near the western
limit of the city, where, near ita intersection with Morgan street, we attain the greatest elevation, being one
hundred and thirty-nine feet above the plane of the wharf.
Beyond the city limits the same general characteristics of country are maintained, except that for a dis-
tance of some three or four miles beyond, it does not attain to the same elevation as at Grand avenue; but
the wave-like character is still
preserved, and tilled, as it all is, with gaulens and orchards, it constitutes
such a view as is excelled by iaw of our cities.
The streets run mainly parallel with the river, and are generally numbered consecutively west from Front
street, which is the levee; the next, Maine, then Second, Third, Ac, ic. The cross streets run nearly at right
angles to the last named, and extend from the river westward to the city limits. The whole does not, how-
ever, present one uniform plan,because,in the rapid extension of the city, different proprietors laid out addi-
tions to suit their own convenience, views and purposes, without regard to uniformity. The streets in the
Older portion—we may say the “Old French Town”—being that part east of, and including Third street
are narrow, and somewhat irregular; the new portion, being that west of, and including Fourth street, are
generally sixty to eighty feet wide, and laiu out with more regularity. Some of the older streets, as Front
and part of Maine, have been widened, so that they do not now present the same contracted appearance to
the stranger as formerly; but still, so great is the business, done on these streets east of Fourth, that it is diff-
icult often to get along, in the great rush during the business season.
In May, 1849, Saint Louis was visited with a terrific conflagration, which, originating among the steam-
boats at the wharf, destroyed some thirty of them, and spreading along the levee, Maine and Second streets,
from above Locust to Elm, nearly all of the largest business houses, with stocks of various merchandize, were
destroyed. The whole loss exceeded, probably, ten millions of dollars! This conflagration was, however,
beneficial in this, that it induced the great enlargement of the wharf, so as to preclude another calamity from
the same source, and also furnished room for the continually increasing business on this great thoroughfare.
It also caused the widening of Maine and Second streets, which have since been built up with business houses,
which for strength and adaptation to heavy mercantile transactions, are scarcely excelled anywhere.
Saint Louis was formerly regarded as unhealthy, yet no local cause was apparent, which could produce the
great mortality that prevailed. The great influx of population, many of them direct from ship-board, the
inadequate supply of suitable, or, indeed, any habitations, the consequent exposures, with change of food,
water, &c, in some degree accounted for this mortality, but it waa assumed that stagnant water also tended
to produce tins result; and to remedy it a system of was inaugurated. Many of the streets in the
Center of the city have been perforated, and all the large ponds contiguous to the more densely settled portion
of the city, have been drained by means of these sewers, now some fourteen miles in length. Whether from
this cause or not, it is now a fact, that, with a greatly enlarged population, our mortality has decreased, until
Saint Louis is assuming the position of one of the healthiest cities in the country.
The great business of Saint Louis has been commerce, and for this her admirable position is eminently
fitted. The great Mississippi washes her eastern shore the whole extent of the city. Hence to the “sunny
south,” it is unobstructed, (except occasionally for a few weeks In mid-winter, by ice,) and furnishes always
a supply of water to bear away the immense products here concentrated.
The numerous large steamboats continually arriving and departing from her wharf, Is evidence of the mag-