The Metropolitan Community

St. Louis is the center of a vast urban area

A century ago, St. Louis was a community of 16,000 persons occupying a small area of five square miles on the west bank of the Mississippi River. Today there are 1,480,000 persons within the 956 square miles officially designated by the U. S. Bureau of the Census as the St. Louis Metropolitan District. It embraces portions of three counties in Illinois (Madison, St. Clair and Monroe), portions of two counties in Missouri (St. Louis and St. Charles) and the City of St. Louis. The official City of St. Louis covers only 62.4 square miles and is but one of approximately 700 taxing authorities in the District, including about 100 incorporated communities, some 500 school districts, and 100 other special sewer, drainage, park and other districts.

The site is ideally situated geographically and topographically for a great city. Low level areas near the rivers afford opportunity for unlimited industrial expansion while the gently rolling uplands offer opportunity for splendid residential areas. See Plate Number 1.

Less than one-fourth of the total area of the District is in use for urban purposes, about one-half is in use for agricultural purposes and one-fourth is vacant, undeveloped land.

The past growth of population in the Metropolitan District together with an estimate of future growth is shown by Table Number I and Plate Number 2.

St. Louis is the central nucleus of the Metropolitan District although it contains a diminishing percentage of the total population. The city had approximately 60 per cent of the total in 1940 and it is estimated that this will decrease to about 54 per cent in1970. See Table Number II. During the next two decades St. Louis will continue to be the main commercial, financial and light industrial center of the Metropolitan District although further decentralization of population and commerce can be expected.

An initial requisite is an accepted plan for the Metropolitan District. The Metropolitan Plan Association feels greatly encouraged in its efforts to develop a comprehensive plan for the entire metropolitan area. Such a plan is as essential as our own Comprehensive Plan. As we have always cooperated with adjoining communities, county, state and federal planning agencies, we will maintain this attitude toward all organizations that wish to develop the whole or any part of the area.

Table Number I
Population Trends
St. Louis Metropolitan District
1900 - 1970
Year Total Population Amount Increase Per Cent Increase
1900 736,300 - -
1910 935,800 199,500 27.1
1920 1,074,300 138,500 14.8
1930 1,293,500 219,200 20.8
1940 1,368,000 74,500 5.8
1950 1,510,000a 142,000 10.4
1960 1,590,000a 80,000 5.3
1970 1,650,000a 60,000 3.8

a) Estimates based on assumption that the population of the St. Louis Metropolitan District will maintain its 1940 proportion to total urban population of the United States. Source of United States population estimate: Bureau of the Census, Special Report, Series P-46, No. 7, September 15, 1946. Of this estimated United States total population it is assumed that the total population will remain 56.5 per cent (the 1940 ratio).

Table Number II
Population- City of St. Louis, 1900-1970
Increase Per Cent of
Year Population Amount Per Cent Metropolitan District
1900 578,200 - - 78.5
1910 687,000 108,800 18.8 73.4
1920 772,900 85,900 12.5 71.9
1930 822,000 49,100 6.3 63.5
1940 816,000 -6,000 -0.7 59.6
1950 855,000a 39,000 4.8 56.6
1960 880,000a 25,000 2.9 55.3
1970 900,000a 20,000 2.3 54.5

a) Estimate based on assumptions stated in text, Page 10 (Population).

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