Must-See Videos In St. Louis History: Part 1

4047 days ago.

If someone asked you about important events in St. Louis history not related to the Cardinals, what would you say? Here’s a primer to make you look intelligent in case that question ever comes up. Actually, you will probably get a “why do you know that?” stare, but watch these videos anyways.

It is highly likely that the earliest thing you know about St. Louis is that it hosted the 1904 World’s Fair and was the first American city to host the Olympics, which coincided with the Fair. KETC did this documentary on pre-1904 St. Louis.

In the late 1940s, a plan was hatched to replace the ‘slums’ that many lower-income St. Louisans were living in with public housing. The Pruitt-Igoe story is fascinating and every St. Louisan should see The Pruitt-Igoe Myth, a documentary that is available to stream on Netflix and is shown at special events periodically around St. Louis. Here’s the trailer:

On October 28, 1965, everyone in St. Louis stopped what they were doing to watch as the last piece was hauled into place atop the Gateway Arch. Here’s a documentary on the project. Skip to the end to see the footage of crazy people standing atop the Arch with little to no safety grear.

Here’s what led to the 1991 riot at Riverport Ampitheater (Now Verizon Wireless). I couldn’t find any evidence that GNR has played a St. Louis show since that night in ’91. Fast forward to 1:17 when Axl Rose apparently thinks that someone has a camera in the crowd. (Don’t laugh, it was 1991). At 1:45 watch closely as he decks a guy who dares to talk to the rock god that is Axl Rose.

Here’s a short documentary KSHE put together on the event.

Welcome to the Riot Show from Blue Ocean Media Group on Vimeo.

In 1993, the St. Louis area experienced the kind of flooding that makes 100-year levees shake on their foundations. Here is a video of part of a documentary KSDK put together about the floods. In the opening sequence of the video, at the 55 second mark, you get an idea of how high the river was in downtown St. Louis. The steps leading up to the Gateway Arch were completely covered. At the 1:50 mark you’ll see a restaurant surrounded by flood waters. That restaurant is Annie Gunn’s in Chesterfield. That Chesterfield Valley area they are talking about is now home to Chesterfield Commons, the nation’s longest strip mall. Where the water was 5-7 feet high during that summer, over 2 million square feet of retail space now exists. Two new outlet malls have broken ground on the other side of Highway 40 in that area. At the 4:30 mark, keep an eye on that house as the flood waters surround it.

Allen Barklage took much of that flood footage for KSDK. He spent 20 years flying helicopters and reporting the news in St. Louis. He died in 1998 in a helicopter crash. He also once foiled an attempted prison escape.

In January of 1999, Pope John Paul II visited St. Louis. A mass was held at what was then the TWA Dome. 104,000 people packed what is now the Edward Jones Dome and America’s Center for the mass.

In June 2000, local artist Nelly released his debut album, Country Grammar. The album went on to become the 10th highest-selling album of the decade, moving more than 8.5 millions units. The title track peaked at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and launched the career of Cornell Haynes Jr. as a solo artist. Nelly had been performing as part of the St. Lunatics around St. Louis since 1995. The group’s biggest local hit prior to the start of Nelly’s solo career was this track in 1997, “Gimme What U Got.”

You probably noticed none of these videos were sports-related. Those are coming up in Part 2. Look for it early next week.


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Ryan is a weird dude. He doesn't cook, yet owns a plethora of kitchen gadgets. He rationalized buying a SodaStream while unemployed. He counts Step Up 2: The Streets as one of his favorite movies along with Footloose, Rent, Grease and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. He loves Mizzou but only wants them in the SEC so he can tailgate in Nashville. He owns a ShakeWeight and AbLounger, but still loves him some John Donut and Billie's Fine Foods. You can get more of Ryan at or just check the stool on the far end of the bar at iTap in Soulard.

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