East St. Louis, on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River in St. Clair County, has a population of nearly 27,000. It sits just
15 miles west of Scott AFB and 2.5 miles from downtown St. Louis. The first bridge to span the Mississippi River, a combined road and railway bridge that opened in 1874, is still in use today to travel from East St. Louis to metropolitan St. Louis; at its completion the Eads Bridge was the longest arch bridge on Earth, and one of its believers led an elephant across it the year it opened to reassure a dubious public. Another bridge linking the two cities, the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, opened in February 2014.
Four interstates are within easy reach: interstates 70, 64, 55 and 255. The city also is part of Metro Transit, the Greater St. Louis area transit system, which connects East St. Louis to St. Louis Lambert Airport, Scott AFB and other local communities.
East St. Louis, which sprang up on river lowlands ringed by bluffs, developed as an industrial and transportation center thanks to its river frontage, a network of railways and ample warehouse space. More recently there has been an increase in commercial and housing activity. In 1993, Arch Paddle Inc. launched the biggest riverboat casino in America, the Casino Queen, which sails from East St. Louis. The $30 million enterprise has been a huge economic boon to the city; in addition to providing hundreds of jobs, it generates substantial tax revenues.
East St. Louis is also home to the Gateway Geyser. At 630 feet, it is the tallest fountain in the nation. The geyser mirrors the St. Louis’ Gateway Arch and its glittering stainless steel across the river at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
Public schools come under East St. Louis School District No. 189. For higher education, Southwestern Illinois College has one of its largest satellite campuses at the East St. Louis Community College Center, where it offers classes to students of various ages and backgrounds.
For more information about the City of East St. Louis, visit www.cesl.us.