St. Louis (English /seɪnt ˈluːɪs/, French /sɛ̃ lwi/) is an independent city in the U.S. state of Missouri. It is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and by St. Louis County on the north, south, and west. Sometimes written as Saint Louis, the city is named for King Louis IX of France. St. Louis is known for its French and German heritage and Victorian past. Two events at the beginning of the 20th century, the 1904 World's Fair and 1904 Olympic Games (the first ever held in the United States) are of particular pride to St. Louisans. In the 21st century, St. Louis has transformed from a manufacturing and industrial economy into a globally known locus for research in medicine, biotechnology, and other sciences.
The city has several nicknames, including the "Gateway City", "Gateway to the West", and "Mound City". It is called "Gateway to the West" for the many people who moved west through St. Louis via the Missouri River (first leg of the Oregon Trail) and other wagon trails. "Mound City" originated with the Native American burial mounds that once were common in the city. These were largely destroyed to level the ground as the city grew. The city is also sometimes called "St. Louie", "River City", or "The Lou"; and a popular abbreviation for St. Louis is "STL" in reference to the airport code for the city and the long-standing use of an interlocked S, T, and L by the reigning World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals baseball team (the St. Louis Browns also used an interlocked STL).
The City of St. Louis lies at the center of Greater St. Louis, which includes counties in the states of Missouri and Illinois, and is the 18th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. with 2,801,033 as of the 2007 US Census.
The city is divided into neighborhoods. The divisions have no legal standing, although some neighborhood associations administer grants or hold veto power over historic-district development. Nevertheless, the social and political influence of neighborhood identity is profound. Some hold avenues of massive stone edifices built as palaces for heads of state visiting the 1904 World's Fair. Others offer tidy working-class bungalows or loft districts. Many of them have endured as strong and cohesive communities.
Among the best-known, architecturally significant, or well-visited neighborhoods are Downtown, Midtown, Benton Park, Carondelet, the Central West End, Clayton/Tamm (Dogtown), Dutchtown South, Forest Park Southeast, Grand Center, The Hill, Lafayette Square, LaSalle Park, Old North St. Louis, Compton Heights, Princeton Heights, Shaw (home to the Missouri Botanical Garden and named after the Garden's founder, Henry Shaw), Southampton, Southwest Garden, Soulard (home of the second-largest Mardi Gras festival in the nation), Tower Grove East, Tower Grove South, Hortense Place (home to many grand mansions), Holly Hills, St. Louis Hills, and Wydown/Skinker.
St. Louis Received the World Leadership Award for urban renewal in 2006. The improvement in the quality of life in the City of St. Louis received international recognition when the World Leadership Forum awarded St. Louis its World Leadership Award in the category of urban renewal. Mayor Francis G. Slay accepted the award in London. The World Leadership Award  is an international award that recognizes great ideas and achievements by cities. The award is given to cities whose leaders have shown exceptional imagination, foresight or resilience in a number of key areas – especially cities that have reversed trends, shaken off traditional images, and acted as an example and inspiration to others. In the presentation, Mayor Slay talked about how the City of St. Louis had created a “culture of change” that has empowered people to improve the City’s quality of life. “It isn’t just bricks and mortar,” Slay said. “We are certainly revitalizing Downtown and our neighborhoods. But, we are also addressing health care, education, affordable housing, and homelessness.”  
There are many museums and attractions in the city. The St. Louis Art Museum, located in the City's premier park, Forest Park, and dating from the 1904 World's Fair, houses an impressive array of modern art and ancient artifacts, with an extensive collection of master works of several centuries, including paintings by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Pissarro, Picasso, and many others. The privately-owned City Museum offers a variety of interesting exhibits, including several large faux-caves and a huge outdoor playground. It also serves as a meeting point for St. Louis's young arts scene. The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, located in Grand Center, is an arts instutution in a world-renowned building designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Tadao Ando. The Eugene Field House, located in downtown St. Louis, is a museum dedicated to the distinguished children's author. The Missouri History Museum presents exhibits and programs on a variety of topics including the 1904 World's Fair, and a comprehensive exhibit on Lewis and Clark's voyage exploring the Louisiana Purchase. The Fox Theatre, originally one of many movie theatres along Grand Boulevard, is now a newly restored theatre featuring a Byzantine facade and Oriental decor. The Fox Theatre presents a Broadway Series in addition to concerts. The St. Louis Union Station is popular tourist attraction with retail shops and a luxury hotel.
There are several notable churches in the city, including the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (more commonly known as "the New Cathedral"), a large Roman Catholic cathedral designed in the Byzantine and Romanesque styles. It is the motherchurch and seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Louis, the principal diocese of Missouri; the current Archbishop is Raymond Leo Burke. The interior is decorated with lovely mosaics, the largest mosaic collection in the world. The Basilica of St. Louis, King of France (1834) (more commonly known as the "Old Cathedral") is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral west of the Mississippi River. The Old Cathedral is located adjacent to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Also notable is the abbey church of Saint Louis Abbey, whose distinctive architectural style garnered multiple awards at the time of its completion. The Gateway Arch, part of the Memorial, is arguably the city's best known landmark, as well as a popular tourist site. This Memorial commemorates the acquisition and settlement, by the citizens of the United States of America, of all of the lands west of the Mississippi River that are part of the nation today. The Arch, and the entire 91 acres of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial park, occupy the exact location of the original French village of St. Louis (1764-1804). Unfortunately, no buildings from that era exist today.
The Saint Louis Zoological Park, one of the oldest and largest free-admission zoos in the country, is home to an Insectarium and the Prairie Village. The St. Louis Zoo is the most visited zoo in the United States, having surpassed the San Diego Zoo in popularity. It boasts many exhibits with animal-friendly habitats. The zoo is located in Forest Park, adjacent to the St. Louis Art Museum.
Laclede's Landing, located on the Mississippi Riverfront directly north of the historic Eads Bridge, is popular for its restaurants and nightclubs. St. Louis also possesses several distinct examples of 18th and 19th century architecture, such as the Soulard Market district (1779-1842), the Chatillon-de Menil House (1848), the Bellefontaine Cemetery (1850), the Robert G. Campbell House (1852), the Old Courthouse (1845-62), the original Anheuser-Busch Brewery (1860), and two of Louis Sullivan's early skyscrapers, the Wainwright Building (1890-91) and the Union Trust Building.
On the Riverfront two sculptural groups has been designated a National Lewis and Clark site by the Federal Parks Department. This includes a twice life sized grouping of Lewis and Clark on the St. Louis Riverfront which commemorated the final celebration of the bicentennial of the expedition. These sculptures were done by Harry Weber
The Lemp Mansion, home of the ill-fated Lemp family, brewers of Falstaff Beer and others, is considered one of the most haunted places in the nation. It is open to the public as a restaurant, murder-mystery dinner theater, and bed & breakfast.
St. Louis is the home of the world-renowned Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra which was founded in St. Louis in 1880--the second oldest orchestra in the nation--and which has over the years been honored with six Grammy Awards and fifty-six nominations. Historic Powell Symphony Hall on North Grand Boulevard has been the permanent home of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra since 1968. Leonard Slatkin, largely credited with building the orchestra's international prominence during his 17-year tenure as Music Director, is Conductor Laureate (presently he conducts the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC). The current Music Director of the orchestra is David Robertson.
The Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is an annual summer festival of opera performed in English, originally co-founded by Richard Gaddes in 1976 (he is now the director of the Santa Fe Opera). Union Avenue Opera, formed in the early 1990s, is a smaller but thriving company that performs opera in the original languages.
Other classical music groups of note include the Arianna String Quartet, the quartet-in-residence at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, and the Young Catholic Musicians, a group for young choir and band members made up of kids from over 60 parishes all over Saint Louis.
St. Louis has long been associated with great ragtime, jazz and blues music. Early rock and roll singer/guitarist Chuck Berry is a native St. Louisan and continues to perform there several times a year. Soul music artists Ike Turner and Tina Turner and jazz innovator Miles Davis began their careers in nearby East St. Louis, Illinois. St. Louis has also been a popular stop along the infamous Chitlin Circuit.
Popular Music and entertainment in St. Louis peaked in the 1960s due to the popularity of Gaslight Square, a thriving local nightclub district that attracted nationally known musicians and performers. This area was all but extinct by the early 1970s and today is the site of a new housing development.
St. Louis is also the home to successful modern musical artists. Rock artists include Living Things, Sheryl Crow, Gravity Kills, Story of the Year, Modern Day Zero, Stir, Greenwheel, Ludo, 7 Shot Screamers, The Impact, and The Urge. In the 1990s, the metro area produced several prominent alt-country artists, including Uncle Tupelo — a Belleville, Illinois trio often considered the originators of the style, whose members went on to found Wilco and Son Volt in 1994 — and The Bottle Rockets. It is also home to local record label Big Muddy Records. Rap and hip-hop artists include Nelly, The Saint Lunatics, Ali, Murphy Lee, Chingy, Huey, Ebony Eyez, J-Kwon, Jibbs, Akon, and others.
The theatre district of St. Louis is in midtown, which is undergoing a major redevelopment and building boom. This district of the city is known as Grand Center, St. Louis. The phrase can refer to the district itself (which is located within Midtown), or to the not-for-profit agency, Grand Center, Inc. (GCI), which possesses certain quasi-governmental powers and administers arts and urban-renewal programs in the area. The district includes the Fox Theatre (one of the largest live broadway theatres in the United States), Powell Symphony Hall (home of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra), Saint Louis University Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, The Sun Theatre (under redevopment), Jazz at the Bistro , Creepy Crawl Live Entertainment venue. The St Louis Black Repertory Theater Company , The Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts , and the Sheldon Concert Hall.
The Muny short for The Municipal Opera Association of St. Louis is the largest and oldest outdoor musical theatre in the United States, located in Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri. Saeting capacity for every performance is over 13,000 people with 1500 free seats. The Muny has completed it's eighty-ninth annual season for the summer of 2007 with the production of Les Misérables. The theatre is influential with Actors' Equity Association.
St. Louis is home to the one of the largest theatrical production companies known as The Fox Acssociates . Fox Associates, L.L.C., was formed in 1981 to purchase, renovate and operate the 4,500-seat Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri. The Fox, which had once been at the center of the St. Louis "movie" theatre district, had been closed since 1978 and was in need of both a major restoration and new entertainment programming to elevate it once again to its rightful position as the major venue for entertainment in St. Louis. The restoration was completed and in 1982 the Fox reopened as a major entertainment venue for Broadway productions, country stars and rock, pop and jazz artists. It has since become one of the highest grossing theatres in the country. Today, The Fox Associates group has helped produce some of Broadway's biggest hit musicals and has been influential in St. Louis' theatre productions. In addition, the St. Louis Metropolitan Area has over 80 theatre and dance companies making the city one of the largest live performaing arts cities in the country today.
For a complete list of colleges and universities in the St. Louis Metropolitan area, see Colleges and Universities of St. Louis, Missouri
According to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey 21.4 percent of the adult population in St. Louis holds a bachelors degree compared with the national average of 27 percent. Almost 209,000 students are enrolled in the area's nearly 40 colleges universities and technical schools. Washington University in St. Louis which is one of the top research universities in the nation, internationally known for its schools of Medicine, Architecture, Social Work and Law; the University's school of law is the oldest continuously operating law school west of the Mississippi. In 2006 approximately 5,287 associates degrees were granted, almost a third of these from the St. Louis Community Colleges. As the largest Community college system in the state of Missouri, more than half of the households in St. Louis have at least one member who attended or attends the college. University of Missouri–St. Louis is the major comprehensive public university in Greater St. Louis and more than 20 percent of all St. Louis area residents with a bachelor degree attended UM-St. Louis.The City has a diverse range of institutions of higher learning including, the Jesuit Catholic university Saint Louis University which is the oldest university west of the Mississippi and Concordia Seminary which is one of the primary Lutheran seminaries.