Columbia is one of the St. Louis area’s fastest-growing suburbs. Located about 10 minutes away by car, southeast and across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis, the community is adjacent to Interstate 255, circled by Interstate 270 and about 25 miles from Scott AFB.
The area has a rich history. In the mid-1600s, the French landed there as the first white settlers, followed by the British, who controlled the territory through most of the 18th century until American revolutionaries drove them out. The original town — starting with Fort Whiteside and Fort Piggott — was built by a handful of American settlers on high bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.
Today, Columbia is home to approximately 10,000 people, many of them descendants of hard-working German immigrants who came looking for employment in the 1840s. These days the service industries and construction are foundations of the local economy, though many people commute to St. Louis via the Jefferson Barracks Bridge or Metro Transit system.
Recreational facilities abound, including a park system with basketball courts, an inline skating rink, walking trails, tennis courts, and baseball, softball, soccer and football fields. The area is a haven for golf fans, with courses offering various levels of challenge right inside town and other southwestern Illinois courses within a short drive. The Columbia Bath and Tennis Club, a major hub for membership recreation, offers a full-sized swimming pool and organized activities on its beautiful campus. There are leagues around town for bowling, volleyball, softball and golf as well. Columbia is also a place for horseshoe tournaments and a starting point for cyclists riding down the famous Bluff Road scenic river route. Miles of river bottoms await along this Illinois institution.
Young residents of Columbia generally attend school within Columbia Community Unit School District No. 4. An abundance of community activities helps children and families stay involved both in and out of school. Instructional classes and leagues are available for all ages in such sports as softball, baseball, soccer, football, bowling, dance, swimming and gymnastics. The public library offers a variety of resources and programs for all ages.