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East St. Louis History Timeline

  • 1808 Illinois City established on the present-day National Stockyards Area.
  • 1817 Illinois City changed to Illinoistown by the firm McKnight and Brady.
  • 1821 Illinoistown becomes major supplier of coal, food and raw materials for city of St. Louis
  • 1840 First one-room school in Illinoistown built on Bond between 5th and 6th Streets.
  • 1840 Brooklyn, IL founded to serve as a home for freed slaves.
  • 1844 Third great flood occurs. Destroys much of Illinoistown; Mississippi River 10-15 miles wide.
  • 1851 Fourth Flood since 1785.
  • 1857 Ohio and Mississippi railroad pulled by the locomotive "San Francisco" makes its run from Cincinnati to Illinoistown down Main Street.
  • 1861 Illinoistown name officially changed to East St. Louis. Railroad workers paid $5.00 each to vote for the new name.
  • 1865 East St. Louis Re-chartered. Five railroads terminate there.
  • 1873St. Louis National Stock Yards Company Formally dedicated and opened the National Stock Yards.
  • 1874 Eads Bridge opened to the public.
  • 1877 Great Railroad Strike
  • 1917 East St. Louis Riots. White mobs attack black men, women and children, burn down buildings.
  • 1889-1930 "Golden Era" of industrial Expansion. Shift from transportation to manufacturing industrial base. Downtown streets raised 10 feet to address flood threat. Major companies locate outside city limits to avoid taxes. Aluminum Ore Company incorporates in Alorton. The National Stock Yards locates in National City, Monsanto Chemical Company locates in Monsanto Town which changes its name to Sauget. Swift, Armour, Morris and East Side Packing established.
  • 1920s ESL becomes the second largest railroad center next to Chicago. City leads the nation total stockyard receipts.
  • 1930s Approximately 200 industries located in East St. Louis employing 12,000 workers.
  • 1935 Horace A. Adams, Founder and President of the Paramount Democratic Organization dies. A prominent civil rights leader in ESL, he convinces many African Americans to leave the Republican Party in favor of the Democratic.
  • 1956 Ike and Tina Turner meet at Club Manhattan
  • 1959 East St. Louis awarded "All American City" designation from Look Magazine.
  • By the 1960s ESL reaches peak population of 82,000.
  • 1960s and 70s Civil Rights and Black Power movements prominent in ESL.
  • 1960 Alcoa (formally Aluminum Ore Co.) begins three-year phase out.
  • 1961 Armour packing plant phased out of existence.
  • 1966 Emerson Electric beings a one-year phase out.
  • 1967 Swift and Co. begins its phase out.
  • 1970 James Williams, first African American Mayor elected.
  • 1973 Obear Nester Glass begins closing.
  • 1975 Hunter Packing (formerly East Side Packing) begins a five-year phase out.
  • 1990 Population 40,944.
  • 1993 Metrolink Light Rail established
  • 1993 Casino Queen gambling boat obtains license to dock on ESL river front.
  • 1999 Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center built
  • 2000 Danny Glover and Harry Belafonte visit the city at the request of Katherine Dunham to improve life for city's residents.
  • 2000. Population 32,000.

Source information:

Bill Nunes, Illustrated History of East St. Louis, 1998