Known as the "Gateway to the West," St. Louis combines a low cost-of-living and a relaxed, down-to-earth attitude with the cultural amenities of a major national city. The city is located at the nation's center and is only four hours by air from any city in the continental U.S. Road trips to such cities as Chicago, Memphis, Kansas City, and New Orleans are relatively quick and inexpensive. In part, due to this convenient location, St. Louis is the headquarters for many national and international companies. It is home to a metropolitan population of 2.5 million, the state's largest; features The Gateway Arch (The Jefferson National Expansion Monument), the world's tallest monument; and is Missouri's second largest city.
The city is connected by a light rail and bus system called the Metro St. Louis system, and there are Metro train and bus stops within walking distance of the university. All university employees and students receive yearly passes from the university which allow them to use Metro services for free, making travel to and from campus to such places as Lambert International Airport and surrounding neighborhoods, restaurants, shopping centers, and theatres quick and inexpensive.
Neighborhoods Near Campus
Recreation Near Campus
Forest Park, one of the largest city parks in the nation, is a 1,370-acre park within walking distance of the Washington University campus. The park includes public tennis courts, an ice rink, playgrounds, dog-walking trails, picnic areas, a lake for canoeing and boating, and a seven-mile trail for cycling, skating, and running. The park is also home to the Missouri Historical Society, the St. Louis Art Museum, the St. Louis Science Center, and the St. Louis Zoo, which are also free to the public. Another popular attraction is The MUNY, a large outdoor amphitheater which hosts a summer season of musical theater. For more information about the resources at Forest Park, please see the City's Forest Park website.
Exploring St. Louis
Some of St. Louis's other recreational and cultural attractions include a world-famous symphony, a botanical garden, and numerous galleries, museums, and performing arts venues. Year-round, the city enjoys a vibrant nightlife and sports culture, but it also sponsors a number of seasonal events, such as outdoor music concerts in the summer. St. Louis's active neighborhood associations organize a wide variety of events, as well, such as art fairs, jazz festivals, and one of the nation's largest Mardi Gras celebrations. For those interested in tours, many types are available, including riverboat excursions, tours of the Gateway Arch, cycling tours, haunted historical tours, and winery/brewery tours. Nature lovers will find many recreational opportunities in both Missouri and southern Illinois, including camping, cave tours (such as the Meramec Caverns tour ), and hiking. Children enjoy such attractions as the Magic House, Grant's Farm, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, and the St. Louis Children's Aquarium.
St. Louis History
Those interested in history will find St. Louis rich with history in literature and the arts. The city was founded by French settlers in 1764 and became a leading American metropolis at the turn of the century when—in 1904—St. Louis was the site of both the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (informally known as The 1904 St. Louis World's Fair) and the 1904 Summer Olympics, which were held in Forest Park on a 1,200-acre site designed by George Kessler. It was the largest fair to date. (The Administration Building built for the events is now Brookings Hall, a landmark building at Washington University.)
Mark Twain experienced life on the Mississippi while working in St. Louis, poets T.S. Eliot (whose grandfather founded Washington University in 1853) and Marianne Moore were born here, as were dancers/choreographers Katherine Dunham and Josephine Baker. Tennessee Williams studied at Washington University, and Irish playwright William Inge and Poets Laureate Howard Nemerov and Mona Van Duyn taught at Washington University. More historical information can be found on the Explore St. Louis and St. Louis Tourism websites, and historical and architectural walking tours are available. We also encourage you to visit the history and art museums in St. Louis, including the Missouri History Museum, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, and the St. Louis Art Museum. Among the collections at the Saint Louis Art Museum is an extraordinary group of German expressionist paintings, including 38 by Max Beckmann, who had a visiting appointment at Washington University from 1947 to 1949.
For more information about St. Louis, see the university's About St. Louis page, the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission's Explore St. Louis site, or the city's St. Louis Tourism site. To search for sight-seeing attractions by category, see the Explore St. Louis's "Things to Do in St. Louis" page. For more information on famous St. Louisans, see the St. Louis Walk of Fame website.