Pictorial East St Louis, 1906
East St. Louis, which for more than twenty-five years has been foremost among all American cities in the rapidity of its growth; standing fourteenth in size in the state in 1880, the increase In population being so rapid and steady that the city now holds third place and is practically certain within the next several years to stand second only to Chicago. Its population in 1880 was 9,000; in 1890, 15,000; In 1900, 30,000; and it has now a population of 60,000 people, having doubled the number of its inhabitants twice during the past fifteen years. According to the official census of 1900, it showed the greatest percentage of increase of any city, save one, in the United States.
This tale of the marvelous growth of East St. Louis is more than an ordinary chapter of the story of the westward movement of industrial development. This phenomenal progress is due in no wise to an artificial boom agitation, but to solid, substantial resources and advantages which afford an enduring basis for its expansion and which will make for a greater sustained growth In the future than has been experienced in the several decades just past.
The agricultural territory surrounding it comprises one of the richest districts of the American Bottoms, world famed for its fertility. The rainfall of the greatest river-basin on earth makes the Mississippi river a dependence for water supply as unfailing as gravity. In the matter of fuel, the city is located at the gateway to a territory underlaid by one of the greatest coal deposits of the continent, and deposits too which defy the world in the feature of cheap mining conditions, making East St. Louis one of the cheapest fuel markets on earth. Mines are located within five miles of the city and it has been estimated that St. Clair county, of which East St. Louis is the metropolis, has beneath its surface sufficient coal to last, at the present rate of consumption, for three thousand years.
Conveniently at hand are ore fields, cotton fields, cereal fields, timber lands, in fact raw material of almost every kind and description.
And to make most effectively available all these natural advantages, East St. Louis possesses the unique advantage of being the terminus of more railroads than ally other city in the United States. Twenty-one railroads enter the city, fifteen of which are important trunk lines, and encircling and connecting all these roads here focusing, are two belt lines, a location on either of which gives command of the facilities of all, affording shipping advantages not paralleled by any city in the western country.
In addition to the twenty-one railroads, the city has eight western connections by way of St. Louis, and other western and southern connections over bridges both north and south of that point, giving access to the entire western and southern territory, in addition to its unparalleled northern and eastern connections. Competition for freight is so strong that shipments to the northwest territory are made from this point cheaper than from Chicago, though the haul is considerably longer.
A local manufacturer who is an extensive shipper and has given the subject close, careful study, maintains that he can ship from East St. Louis to more points for one dollar than from any other city in America.
In addition to its remarkable railroad facilities, East St. Louis has in outlet of over 9,000 miles of navigable rivers (the Mississippi and its tributaries), thus affording exceptionally cheap shipping facilities to a territory extending over twenty-one states. As a distributing point the city is ideally situated, having a population of 30,000,000 people as consumers within a radius of 500 miles.
East St. Louis has beyond doubt the finest water system in the west, constructed at a cost of $2,000,000. The filter system is of the most recent design and cost about $250,000. There are about 150 miles of water mains. All water sent through the mains is first settled in live large basins and then filtered through Twenty-six of the. most modern mechanical filters, each containing six feet of sand and gravel, so that it reaches the consumers perfectly clear and absolutely pure. This water is excellent for manufacturing purposes, as it does not foam, and leaves practically no scale in pipes or boilers.
The city has an excellent system of sewers and is now preparing to install a large outlet sewer of sufficient capacity to carry away the additional sewage resulting from the anticipated increase in growth for many years. A well organized health department is maintained, and sanitary conditions are first-class, with the result that East St. Louis can show a health record far above the average. Streets are well paved, excellent gas and electric light systems are maintained and a metropolitan condition exists from all points of view. The tax rate is low, and manufacturers locating at this point are exempted front city taxes and teaming license for a term of years commensurate with the magnitude of the enterprise.
Comfortable houses are rented at reasonable rates, rents being considerably lower than the average of other cities. Churches of all denominations are represented, having handsome edifices and flourishing congregations. There are fifteen brick and stone public school buildings now !it use, and others in course of construction. The city also has two magnificent high school buildings, costing in the neighborhood of $200,000. Besides the public schools there are six parochial schools, three convent seminaries, one private school, one business college and two shorthand schools. There is also a splendid public library, built by the city at a cost of $100,000, and containing upwards of 25,000 volumes.
Here also is located the office of the collector of internal revenue for the Thirteenth district of Illinois, and within the past two years a United States district court has been established, for the accommodation of which two governmental functions, together with the post office, Congress has recently appropriated $300,000 for a federal building, which will be one of the largest and handsomest in Illinois.
Among the many features to which East St. Louis "points with pride" are its fine union depot, magnificent city hall, 150 miles of water mains, four banks and three trust companies, whose deposits amount to approximately $6,000,000; forty miles of brick and granite streets, seventy-five miles of granitoid sidewalks, six large grain elevators, its De Forest wireless telegraph station; the largest cotton warehouse and compress building in the United States, etc.
Among the most attractive features of East St. Louis is its splendid city and suburban street car system, which extends in various directions to practically all cities within a radius of thirty-five miles, and one of which connects with Springfield, Decatur, Jacksonville and Danville, Illinois. The city line extends across the great Eads bridge, giving direct connection with St. Louis. There is also an electric coal line, which connects with both belt lines and with the individual railroads entering the city. Other lines are in course of construction and during the coming summer It is estimated that over 1,000 miles of interurban electric railroads will center at this point.
A considerable amount of ground is still available for factory purposes on the various railroads and one or both of the belt lines. All of the available factory ground on the belt lines is located on or adjacent to fine paved streets, giving access in all kinds of weather. Practically all factories in East St. Louis at present are located within three miles of the business center of St. Louis, Missouri, from whence a large number of them have moved, finding their advantage in cheaper location, lower taxation, cheaper water, prompt shipping facilities, cheaper coal and the ability to land their goods In the heart of St. Louis more quickly than could be done from most of the factories in that city.
Among the manufacturing industries now located in East St. Louis the following might be mentioned:
The manufacturer who is looking for a location will certainly make no mistake by establishing his plant at East St. Louis. The city invites investigation and lends every assistance in its power to those desirous of locating there.