A brief history on downtown St. Louis: The original village of St. Louis was contained within the present limits of downtown along the riverfront. It was on the site of the present Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (The Gateway Arch being the centerpiece). The location was chosen by Pierre Laclede, the City's founder, because it met his requirements for a fur trading post site that was not subject to flooding and was near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. By 1766, St. Louis had a population of about 300 people and 75 buildings. Four years later it reached 500 people and had grown so that the Rue des Granges, now Third Street was built up. With the gradual change of the area from residential to commercial, the location of the City's finer residences and churches moved west of Twelfth Street after 1850 when Lucas Place became the fashionable residential street. During the 1870's the center for such elegant living moved westward again toward Grand Avenue. Soon after, the most expensive and fashionable homes crossed Grand Avenue following the development of Vandeventer Place. The city of St. Louis has never looked back as it's expansion through the years kept moving westward.
Only since the late 20th century, has there been intense interest to revitalize the areas of St. Louis that have been left behind by the local "westward expansion."