to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.
I'm Faith Lapidus. Our subject this week is the city of Saint Louis, Missouri.
Louis sits next to the Mississippi River, the most important waterway for
shipping traffic in the United States. That traffic was halted for most of June
because of severe flooding in the Midwest -- the worst in fifteen years.
Louis did not have any serious problems, though, even as the Mississippi
reached two-and-a-half meters above flood level.
the water levels began to drop, the Army Corps of Engineers reopened the river
Saint Louis was settled by fur traders
in the seventeen sixties on a limestone rise above the Mississippi. The French
settlement was named for King Louis the Ninth.
Robert Archibald is president of the
Missouri History Museum in Saint Louis. He says the city owes its existence to
The Mississippi has played a major part
in the history, culture and music of Saint Louis. In fact, the two biggest
rivers in the United States, the Mississippi and the Missouri, meet north of
One of Saint Louis' native sons was T.S.
Eliot. The poet once described the Mississippi River as a strong brown god.
Archibald says many people in Saint Louis have a sense that Elliot was right.
They see the Mississippi as a natural force that affects life at its edges and
around the city.
from the river's edge is the Gateway Arch, a symbol of America's westward
expansion. Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark began their trip in the
spring of eighteen hundred and four from Saint Louis.
The fur trading post was the gateway to
the West -- the place where settlement ended and the West began.
Finnish-American architect, Eero Saarinen, won a design competition for the
memorial in nineteen forty-seven. The Gateway Arch was completed eighteen years
later, in nineteen sixty-five.
designed the arch to honor Thomas Jefferson. President Jefferson sent Lewis and
Clark on their expedition. He was also the only architect president in American
The Gateway Arch is made of stainless
steel. It is the nation's tallest memorial, at one hundred ninety-two meters.
Visitors can go inside. Two trains, one inside each leg, carry visitors to the
observation room at the top. Electric motors keep the trains level as they
travel the four-minute trip up or down the arch.
On most days, no motion can be felt in
the observation room. But when the wind blows, the arch gently moves from side
Not far in the distance is Busch
Stadium, where the Saint Louis Cardinals play baseball.
Since the nineteen fifties, Saint Louis
has had three different ballparks called Busch Stadium. The current one opened
in two thousand six. It holds more than fifty thousand people. Major League
Baseball will play its All-Star Game there next year.
The name Busch, B-U-S-C-H, comes from
Saint Louis' best-known local company. Anheuser-Busch makes Budweiser and other
beers. For a long time the company owned the Cardinals. A group of investors
bought the team in nineteen ninety-six.
The Cards have won seventeen National
League pennants and ten World Series championships. The latest was in two
thousand six, in the new Busch Stadium. Across the street is a hall of fame
that presents more than one hundred years of baseball history in the city.
historian Robert Archibald says there is a fierce loyalty in Saint Louis to the
else people in Saint Louis are loyal to is Anheuser-Busch. Last month the
Belgian and Brazilian company InBev offered to buy Anheuser-Busch and create
the world's largest brewer. The takeover turned hostile after Anheuser's board
rejected an offer of forty-six billion dollars. Last week InBev proposed to
replace the board.
end, InBev raised its offer to fifty-two billion. And late Sunday, Anheuser's
board accepted the sweetened offer. The deal still requires the approval of
shareholders in both companies as well as government officials. InBev expects
the deal to be completed by the end of this year.
Louis will become the North American headquarters of the combined company, to
be called Anheuser-Busch InBev. InBev Chief Executive Carlos Brito will head the
new company which will make about one-fourth of the world's beer.
opponents launched online petitions to try to stop one of the largest foreign
purchases ever of an American company. These protests, says historian Robert
Archibald, are proof of the loyalty that Saint Louisans have to the brewery.
And not just Saint Louisans, it seems.
Monday, presidential candidate Barack Obama made an unexpected stop in Saint
Louis because of airplane trouble. The Illinois Democrat told reporters,
"It would be a shame if Bud is foreign-owned."
The United States Census Bureau says the
city of Saint Louis had about three hundred fifty thousand people last year.
That was down from a population of almost four hundred thousand in nineteen
ninety. The greater Saint Louis area has close to three million people.
French and Spanish immigrants settled
Saint Louis, along with American Indians. Then large numbers of Germans arrived
in the nineteenth century. That German influence is still felt today.
love beer, and during the nineteenth century, Saint Louis had more than fifty
breweries. Most closed during the period known as Prohibition. From nineteen
twenty to nineteen thirty-three, it was illegal to make, sell or transport
alcoholic drinks in the United States.
But Anheuser-Busch survived, and grew
into its position today as the largest brewing company in the country.
Anheuser was Eberhard Anheuser. The German-born
soap maker bought a struggling brewery in Saint Louis in eighteen sixty. He
renamed it E. Anheuser and Company. In eighteen sixty-four, his daughter's
husband, Adolphus Busch, joined the company. It later became Anheuser-Busch.
Budweiser was launched in eighteen seventy-six.
many people in Saint Louis, their identity and the company's identity are
intermixed. The company always points out its connection with Saint Louis in
its advertising. And the big Clydesdale horses used in its marketing campaigns
appear in city parades.
Saint Louis has gone through a lot of redevelopment, much of it in the last
twenty years or so. The city used to be the heart of the American shoe
industry. But these days, most of the shoes Americans wear come from China.
Saint Louis has built up its health care industry. It also serves as Midwestern
headquarters for big companies including Macy's department stores and pet food
maker Ralston Purina.
major daily newspaper is the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. Having one major paper
has been a common situation for years in American cities.
Louis is also home to one of the largest collections of mosaics in the world.
These are on the walls of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis and they are
artists created them over a period of seventy-five years. They used more than
forty-one million pieces of cut glass and seven thousand colors. The Ravenna
Mosaic Company completed the work in nineteen eighty-eight.
Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is the spiritual center of local Roman
the church is like traveling back centuries to Eastern Europe during the
Byzantine Empire. A high dome sits over the main area of the cathedral. Many
windows and doors are topped with arches and the walls are made of granite.
years of work went into the building, beginning in nineteen hundred. In
nineteen ninety-seven, Pope John Paul the Second awarded the cathedral the
ceremonial rights of a basilica. Two years later he visited the Cathedral
Basilica during a stop in Saint Louis on his way home from a trip to Mexico.
That stop in Saint Louis was his last visit to the United States.
program was written and produced by Jill Moss. I'm Faith Lapidus.
And I'm Steve Ember. Pictures of Saint Louis can be found at voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.
Photos (except for AP) by Jill Moss.