A Tale of Two Cities: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times.

Inequality in St. Louis' Metro-East.

Wendy Shaw

Department of Geography

Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville


Much of the academic interest that has recently emerged concerning poverty in the United States has been focused on urban America. It has been generally accepted, by both academics and the American people at large, that cities have a distinct geography of inequality. Certainly in the public perception the 'inner city' is synonymous with unemployment, crime, social problems, substandard education, lack of income, and urban decay. This popular view is reinforced at every turn by a host of television presentations, newspaper reports, and magazine articles. Research appears to somewhat support this public perception and suggests that it is the central city that endures severe spatially concentrated poverty, and while poverty is far from unknown in the suburbs they do in general enjoy various degrees of relative affluence. Numerous studies have confirmed this general conclusion and have characterized the most impoverished urban dwellers as an 'urban underclass' (Ricketts and Sawhill 1988; Greene, 1991). This 'underclass' suffer from deeply entrenched, chronic poverty, are usually composed of racial minorities, are often unemployed, are frequently poorly educated, and are geographically concentrated in the central city (Danziger and Gottschalk 1987; Kasarda 1990; Knox 1990; Massey and Eggers 1990).

Most of the research that has been drawn upon to conclude that the central city is the location of a concentration of urban poor in the United States has focused on cities in general or on major northeastern metropolises such as Chicago (Ricketts and Sawhill 1988; Sawhill 1989; Wacquant and Wilson 1989; Eggers and Massey 1992). Very little appears to have been written concerning the spatial distribution of poverty in other somewhat smaller cities. This is certainly true of the St. Louis metropolitan area although there is some evidence to suggest that poverty is concentrated in the central city and it is generally accepted that this is so (de Vise 1987). Thus, the first basic question that must be answered is does in fact the St. Louis metropolitan area follow the classic view in which poverty is concentrated in the central city?


It is a relatively simple task to ascertain the general spatial distribution of poverty in St. Louis. Tract level poverty data is readily available from the U.S. Census Bureau and mapping such data gives a general impression of where impoverished areas within the city are to be found. Figure 1 a and b presents maps of the percent of the population who fall below the official poverty line in 1990. The most deeply impoverished tracts stand out. Just as might be expected seven tracts in the central city area have the highest poverty levels of over 50 percent; fifty seven others suffer rates between 25 and 50 percent. The remaining 272 Missouri tracts with levels of poverty below 25 percent are overwhelmingly to be found in the suburbs and provide a marked contrast to the inner city poverty (Figure 1a). However, as Figure 1b reveals on closer inspection this is not the end of the story. The St. Louis metropolitan area spans two states separated by the Mississippi River; Missouri and Illinois. On the Illinois side of the river where 124 census tracts are located an additional, and more extensive, core of intense poverty is evident. Centered on the city of East St. Louis are ten tracts with poverty rates over 50 percent. An additional sixteen tracts have poverty rates between 25 and 50 percent. This represents a remarkable spatial concentration of poverty on the east side of the river. The ten tracts where a majority of residents are poor are home to almost 21 percent of all the poor who reside in the Illinois portion of the metropolitan area. In contrast the Missouri tracts with over fifty percent poverty rates embrace only about five percent of the poor who live within the Missouri portion of the MSA. Despite the fact that many more impoverished people (183,196) live within the Missouri portion of the St. Louis MSA, a fact that reflects the distribution of the total population, than live in the Illinois segment (80,410), more absolute numbers of the poor live in tracts with over 50 percent poverty rates in the Illinois portion than in Missouri portion of the metropolitan area. On the Illinois side of the river 16,734 poor residents live in such tracts that represent intense spatial concentrations of poverty, compared to 9,367 on the Missouri side.

The tract level data for the whole metropolitan area does seem to support the concept of the existence of an 'underclass' in terms of some basic characteristics of the poor. There do seem to exist intense spatial concentrations of poor residents and a simple regression model with poverty rate as the dependent variable and percent African American, unemployment rate, and high school graduation rate as the independent variables yields an R2 of .835. However, looking for differences between the Missouri and Illinois portions of the metropolitan area in terms of the relationship between poverty and race, unemployment, and educational level leads to some interesting observations. The same regression model applied to just the Illinois census tracts indicates an even stronger relationship (R2 .857) between poverty and race, unemployment, and educational level than for the metropolitan area as a whole. In particular being African American on the east side is linked to poverty more strongly than it is on the Missouri side of the river. Thus, it seems in St. Louis a core of 'underclass' population is located outside the central city proper in an area one might expect to find relatively affluent suburbs.

These simple statistics confirm what area residents 'know' about the Illinois portion of the St. Louis metropolitan area. The mention of East St. Louis is synonymous in most people's minds with an African American population, poverty, unemployment, poor education, and associated social ills such as violence, drug use, and squalid housing. This perception of East St. Louis is not limited to the local area. Throughout the country the name East St. Louis is associated in many people's minds with all that is negative about the U.S. city (Costello 1990; Kozol 1991; ESLARP 1997). What is less widely perceived nationally, but seems accepted by residents of the Metro-east, is that other not far distant communities such as Glen Carbon-Edwardsville (Figure 2) are affluent. This perception of the spatial separation of rich and poor is supported by evidence such as housing price and income. Figure 3a reveals that as expected East St. Louis has a very low median house value while a node of high housing value can be seen centered on Glen Carbon. The same two areas are again indicated to be on the two economic extremes by per capita income data (Figure 3b)

Thus, within the Illinois portion of the St Louis metropolitan area there clearly exists a somewhat unexpected core of intense poverty beyond the central city proper where conventionally such poverty might be expected, and nearby communities where relative affluence is the norm. The second question then is to attempt to explain this geographic polarization of rich and poor on the east side where one might expect to find suburbs and bedroom communities such as found beyond the west side of the city of St. Louis. The information available concerning the communities of Glen Carbon and East St. Louis strongly indicates that the current economic situation has strong roots in a contrasting past. With this in mind the following section chronicles the historical development of the two cities.



East St. Louis

The Pre-depression years

A substantial amount of information is available concerning East St. Louis and its history. The first settlement on the site of the present city was established in 1765 and from its earliest days location dictated an association with the transportation industry (Washnis 1967; Teer 1968). Initially the site for a ferry which shuffled merchants and products across the Mississippi from St. Louis, Missouri which had been established earlier, East St. Louis attracted the railroad in 1836 (Washnis 1967; Teer 1968; Saleh 1992). East St. Louis' function as a transportation center grew steadily and the city became the terminus for the eastern railroads. Indeed in its heyday as a rail center 27 major railroads had their western terminal in the city and it was second in the nation only to Chicago as a rail center (Washnis 1967; Shafiq 1992; Nunes 1995).

The growth of the city as a rail center and available tracts of flat land attracted manufacturing as industrialists from the northeast invested in East St. Louis plants. By 1892 industries established included several iron and steel plants, factories producing rail equipment, a linseed and caster oil plant, and glassworks. In addition, other large industries were planning facilities in East St. Louis including meat packing, chemicals, zinc processing, and aluminum ore processing (Baldwin 1977; Saleh 1992). By the early 1890s it seemed nothing could stop the explosive industrial growth of the city which continued into the early decades of the twentieth century. By 1906 there was a host of manufacturing establishments in the city; Shafiq (1992) lists trucks, car springs, steel cars, stoves, locomotives, spikes, nails, forges, stamp mill forges, enameled ironware, machinist tools, rolling mills, frogs and switches, glassware, aluminum products, glucose, cottonseed oil, barrels, car roofs, fireworks, fertilizers, structural iron, breweries, white lead, yeast cakes, paint, chemicals, baking powder, breakfast food, silica, stockyards, and meat packing as some of the products and establishments fueling the booming East St. Louis economy. Industrial development in East St. Louis was at its most vibrant and most extensive from about 1890 into the 1920s; at its peak fully one quarter of all industry in the St. Louis area was on the East-side (Saleh 1992). East St. Louis was a center of commerce and industry on a national and even international scale. Around 1920 the city ranked number one in the country in the sale of horses and mules and was home to the largest aluminum processing center in the world. It ranked number two in the sale of hogs and as a rail center, led the country in the manufacture of paint pigments, baking powder, and roofing materials, had the cheapest coal in the world, and was home to the third largest primary grain market in the nation (Baldwin 1997). East St. Louis was a city experiencing unbridled industrial growth that seemed without limit and was thus nicknamed 'the Pittsburgh of the west' (Nunes 1995).

Along with this growth of industry came a demand for labor. During the era of fastest industrial growth between 1890 and 1930 it was said 'if there is a job to be had you can find one in East St. Louis' (Baldwin 1977; Shafiq 1992). Jobs attracted a multitude of people and so the growth of industry was accompanied by rapid growth in the city's population. In 1870 the population of East St. Louis was a little over 5600; just 22 years later this population was approximately 25,000 (Evert Kincaid and Associates 1965; Baldwin 1977). The turn of the century saw even faster population growth as the pace of industrialization reached a fever pitch; in fact in 1891 East St. Louis was doubling its population each decade and was the fastest growing city in the United States (Saleh 1992). In 1900 the population of the city was 29,655 and by 1910 it was over 58,500. The population of East St. Louis reached its peak size of over 82,000 in the late 1940s and early 1950s (Evert Kincaid and Associates 1965; Saleh 1992).

The flood of people into East St. Louis had many consequences for the city. One major result of a burgeoning population was a real estate boom. By 1912 numerous subdivisions were being built to house a population that now exceeded 65,000. Many houses being constructed were small frame homes suitable for industrial workers while some were large elegant homes designed for members of the upper levels of East St. Louis society. During the years of industrial growth nearby communities such as New Brighton and Illinois City were annexed. Not only were homes being built and nearby communities being annexed but community facilities were being provided. In 1892 a new public library was built, the McCasland opera house opened in 1891, and in 1890 electric lights came to East St. Louis even before they were available across the river in St. Louis (Baldwin 1977).

As people flooded to East St. Louis in search of jobs the demographics of the city changed rapidly. Much of the incoming population was composed of either immigrants from southern and eastern Europe or African-Americans from the rural south (Shafiq 1992). In the early days of the city prior to the industrial boom black population was minimal, but by 1910 one in ten (5882) residents were black; by 1917 African-Americans numbered over 10,000. The growing number of African-American residents in East St. Louis created tension in the city at a time when racial hostility in the rest of the country was high as a response to the exodus of black Americans from the South (Rudwick 1964; Shafiq 1992). In East St. Louis however, jobs were plentiful and as long as non-whites conformed to a system of segregation and remained a passive minority they were tolerated by whites (Nunes 1995). Even within the period of plentiful jobs and rapid industrial growth it was in the realm of race relations that East St. Louis began to reveal one of its deep rooted problems. The uneasy peace between black and white residents was shattered as a part of the local political battle between Republicans and Democrats. The African-Americans that flocked to East St. Louis for jobs were largely Republican as a result of their admiration of Lincoln. When in reality they were brought in or traveled to East St. Louis to fill available jobs and to provide cheap labor, Democrats accused Republicans of 'colonizing' the city with African-Americans in order to garner more votes. The Democrats managed to win the heated battle for East St. Louis and St. Claire County in 1916 but the concept of a 'colonization conspiracy' was firmly established in the minds of white residents (Rudwick 1964; Nunes 1995). Whites began to believe in and fear a far reaching scheme to make East St. Louis a black town. Such fears were exacerbated when black labor was brought in to break a strike by whites and to erode the power of white unionized workers (Baldwin 1977). African-American workers were blamed for union defeats as employers used the fact that white worker's desire to exclude blacks was stronger than their desire for a union. Tensions in East St. Louis quickly reached boiling point with the race riot of July 2, 1917. Rudwick 1964 provides gruesome and graphic detail of the brutal riot in which 9 whites and approximately 39 blacks died. In the aftermath of the actual riot whites celebrated, proclaimed the righteousness of their cause, and continued their campaign of hate and violence against black residents (Rudwick 1964).

As a part of the propaganda campaign waged by whites against blacks before and after the riot of 1917, African-Americans were blamed for the 'crime wave' in East St. Louis (Rudwick 1964). In reality East St. Louis had a reputation as a crime ridden town even before its growth as an industrial center. In the 1870s it was said to be 'tougher than dodge city' by the Pinkerton Detective Agency (Nunes 1995). The rail yards that were the lifeblood of the city in the late nineteenth century were plagued by robberies and violence and East St. Louis was characterized as a tough lawless town (Baldwin 1977). The crime that was a part of East St. Louis life at the time of the race riot and beyond was in fact the manifestation of an ongoing problem with roots at least half a century old.

Crime in East St. Louis was not just a product of a small cohort of lawless residents. Instead perpetrators of crimes were to be found within such institutions as the police department and were part of a pattern of vice and corruption in the city. In the late 1880s both the police chief and a city alderman were implicated in blowing up a safe to conceal a $60,000 shortfall. Police officers were involved in a thefts from railroad boxcars (Baldwin 1977) and also in the shooting of a prominent citizen. Police were also involved in the escalation of racial tension in the days leading up to the race riot of 1917. Prior to the riot East St. Louis police targeted black residents, searching and disarming them. After the riot officials again showed favoritism toward whites who had been involved by failing to collect evidence against them or press criminal charges (Rudwick 1964).

Self serving politicians and profit hungry, exploitive large industries have been a part of the East St. Louis scene for most of the city's history (Saleh 1992). Even during the golden era of plentiful jobs the city was characterized as an industrial slum (Rudwick 1964; Nunes 1995) and a place permeated by greed and corruption. Local police were implicated in crime, gambling and prostitution were a part of city life, and a succession of city leaders were corrupt (Baldwin 1977). In an atmosphere of political corruption, fiscal mismanagement, and lawlessness it is perhaps unsurprising that industry also conducted itself with a flagrant disregard for the welfare of the city. Nothing was spared in the rush for profit and industrial growth. During the period of most intense industrial activity there was no pollution control. Approximately one hundred sixteen industries handled hazardous materials and their disposal of industrial waste decimated the local environment making some sites unusable (Saleh 1992; Nunes 1995). In the drive to maximize profits and minimize expense industries tried to avoid the payment of taxes to the city of East St. Louis. One effective way they did this was through the establishment of company towns outside the city limits (Saleh 1992). Three examples of company towns are National City founded by National Stockyards in 1907, Alorton established by the Aluminum Ore Co. in 1932, and Sauget founded by Monsanto in 1926. Establishing such cities meant the withdrawal of substantial tax monies from the city, but meant that these companies could still take advantage of the cheap labor available. The burden of providing services for city residents who worked for such companies remained with the city. Thus, companies could exploit the cheap labor available without contributing to their welfare through payment of taxes (Shafiq 1992; Kozol 1991).

Such financial maneuvering by large companies obviously created great fiscal problems for East St. Louis. Lack of and loss of tax base as well as mismanagement and corruption all added to the city's financial woes (Shafiq 1992). In 1920, even before the loss of the Monsanto and the Aluminum Ore Co. taxes, East St. Louis ranked 130th of the 131 cities in the U.S. with populations over 50,000 in income from taxes, and taxes that were collected were frequently diverted into the pockets of corrupt politicians. It seems that the city has a long history of financial instability. In the 1880s one year saw the city with a healthy balance of over $29,000 in the city treasury while in another taxes had to be raised to pay off a $850,000 debt (Baldwin 1977).

Thus, in East St. Louis we see various threads developing, some seemingly problematic and some not, that are rooted in the period when the city grew from a small village to a booming industrial center. The city was a center of rail transportation, was home to a wide range of industry, had grown to a population of over 75,000 based on industrial jobs, had a large housing stock built prior to World War II, was racially mixed but not racially harmonious, was no stranger to crime and corruption, had a history of exploitation by large industrial corporations, suffered from a heavily polluted local environment, and was mired in fiscal problems. These characteristics of East St. Louis were all well established as the city began to sink into decline in the Depression years of the 1930s.

The Depression years

During the Depression years of the 1930's the industrial boom in East St. Louis showed signs that it was over. Many plants closed during these years and although some were temporarily revived during the war years, many never opened their doors again after the lean economic years were over (Baldwin 1977). The decline of East St. Louis was dramatic both in its extent and speed. The 1920s were the decade of peak industrial growth but the 1930s saw an avalanche of factory closings. After World War II still more industries abandoned East St. Louis and closures went on through the 1960s (Saleh 1992). In the twenty years from 1950 to 1970 25,000 jobs were lost (Officer 1990; Shafiq 1992). This sudden change in fortunes had various reasons beyond being a general effect of national economic depression.

One major reason for the decline of East St. Louis was that the city lost its advantage of location. Transportation began to focus on trucking rather than on rail (Saleh 1992). East St. Louis did become a focus of major highways after the switch from rail to road transportation and by 1967 six interstates and various state roads ran through the city. These roads however, did nothing to help the local economy but functioned only to fragment the city both physically and socially as well as eating up available land (Washnis 1967; Teer 1968). The rail lines and switching yards that had been the life blood of the city just a few decades earlier now became a detriment. The rail lines and yards blighted nearby areas and in the era of the automobile tied up traffic often for up to 45 minutes (Teer 1968). As Baldwin (1977) remarks railroads had created East St. Louis but in the new era of the automobile and trucking they also strangled it.

Another reason for the decline of East St. Louis was the switch away from coal as a source of energy. One of the city's advantages had been its proximity to the coal fields of southern Illinois and hence its ability to supply cheap coal. When coal began to be replaced by oil and natural gas this locational advantage was lost (Saleh 1992).

In addition to these broad changes in terms of transportation mode and fuel source, industry in East St. Louis began to become obsolete (Baldwin 1977). Rather than upgrade existing factories with new technologies companies chose to build new factories elsewhere (Baldwin 1977; Saleh 1992). For example, the Aluminum Ore Co. rebuilt near the bauxite mines of Mississippi and in Houston to take advantage of imported bauxite from South America. The large packing plants which had once made East St. Louis the largest hog market in the world built smaller plants near where the animals are raised (Baldwin 1977).

The Post-depression years

By the mid 1960s the scale and depth of decline in East St. Louis had become clear and the situation was bleak. The city had become a prime example of a declining and decaying city. As industries closed jobs became hard to find and unemployment levels skyrocketed. The supply of unskilled labor was huge but there were few jobs to fill. Such jobs that were to be had were poorly paid and often part-time, intermittent, or casual (Washnis 1967; Teer 1968). In 1964, compared to the rest of Illinois, East St. Louis was first in the percentage of low income families, unemployment, persons with less than eight years of education, and in unsound housing units (Washnis 1967). Teer (1968) chronicles some major job losses during the late 1960s; Swift and Co. closed their pork kill department with the loss of 350 jobs and closed the beef department eliminating another 200 jobs, American Zinc's Fairmont City plant cut 200 jobs, 100 workers at Darling Fertilizer lost their jobs, a fire at the Norfolk and Western railroad resulted in the loss of 349 warehouse jobs, and Socony Mobile eliminated 450 positions. By 1967 the unemployment rate in East St. Louis was 21 percent, and for black residents this rate was 33 percent; this compared to 2.9 percent for Illinois as a whole (Mendelson and Ranney 1967). Fully forty one percent of all households had no fully employed wage earner. Even such high unemployment figures may have underestimated actual joblessness as the long term unemployed lost their benefits and eventually stopped looking for work (Washnis 1968).

One direct result of the scarcity of jobs was the onset of population loss. From a population of high of over 82,000 population had fallen slightly to approximately 81,700 by 1960. By 1970 the population had fallen dramatically to a little over 62,000, and by 1980 to 55,000 (Bureau of the Census 1983). The white middle class, like the industry a few years earlier, abandoned the city going elsewhere in the search for jobs. East St. Louis quickly became a city peopled by the unskilled who lacked the means to leave or the education and skills to take advantage of opportunities elsewhere (Mendelson and Ranney 1967).

As people left the city in large numbers housing ceased to be built. The fact that residents were often unemployed or had low incomes meant that the only housing projects were those involving the construction of public housing (Williams 1967; Teer 1968). In 1965 there were only 29 permits for new units and 210 permits for remodeling or additions issued in the city. Private companies saw no profit in building houses in a city where people lacked jobs and sufficient income to buy a home (Mendelson 1966). Sixty three percent of housing was built before 1929 (Evert Kincaid and Associates 1965), existing housing was in a state of rapid decline (Washnis 1967; Teer 1968), and housing improvement became an urgent problem that there was no money to address (Mendelson 1966). In 1966 Mendelson (1966) anticipated that 1300 new or rehabilitated homes would have to be completed in each of five years to make any noticeable difference in terms of housing quality. In reality during the next two years only 35 units were built while 670 were demolished (Shafiq 1992).

With the declining population size the demographics of the city changed once more. It was overwhelming whites who fled from East St. Louis (Washnis 1967). The central city area transformed from a white to a black area. School enrollments illustrate the speed of this transition. In 1955 Longfellow school was 0 percent black and Monroe school was 2.4 percent black; by 1967 these schools were 86 percent and 99.9 percent black respectively (Mendelson and Ranney 1967). In the ten years between 1950 and 1960 alone the racial balance in East St. Louis changed substantially. In 1950 the city was 66.5 percent white but this percentage fell to 55.4 as whites left the city (Evert Kincaid and Associates 1965). The African-American population that was left behind in crumbling East St. Louis was unskilled, economically segregated, and discriminated against. African-Americans were denied union membership and so barred from many unskilled jobs that were available like those in construction. They were also excluded from the apprenticeships and training programs that would have allowed them to gain needed skills. In 1968 of the largest 1516 firms in the area 38 percent had no black workers and 62 percent had no unskilled jobs to offer. The few jobs that were available were often in the surrounding area rather than in the city, and so were unaccessible to those who had no transportation other than an inadequate bus service (Teer 1968).

Unsurprisingly crime became an increasing problem in East St. Louis as an often unemployed population struggled to survive. In the five years from 1963 to 1967 murders more than doubled from 14 to 30, and car thefts rose from 482 to 792. In just the first seven months of 1968 major crimes increased by 67 percent and crimes against property more than doubled. The problematic relationship of the past between black residents and the police translated into widespread disrespect for law enforcement, and the police and courts were in disarray (Teer 1968).

With the falling fortunes of the city came an upsurge in the corruption that had long been a part of local politics. Politicians and gangsters skimmed money whenever possible. A series of demagogues, both black and white, were prominent in local politics. Problems instead of being solved within the legitimate political process were dealt with within the local structures based on power and patronage (Teer 1968).

The exploitation of the city by industry also continued. Large industries comfortably ensconced in their company towns or at sites beyond the limits of the city continued to avoid paying taxes and while demanding services. The demand and need for services was growing at a time when the capacity to provide them was diminishing. These companies also created a heavy traffic flow through the city adding an additional burden (Washnis 1967; Teer 1968). In addition, industries that had once been in the city left behind numerous badly polluted sites and buildings that quickly fell into disrepair and decay.

The increasing crime rate and fear of crime coupled with lack of disposable income led to a severe shrinkage of business and retail facilities in East St. Louis. In 1966 alone 183 small businesses closed with a loss of revenue for the city and facilities for residents (Teer 1968). Large retail establishments such as Sears, Woolworths, Kroger, A & P, National Tea, and IGA closed their doors; by 1970 Walgreens was the only national retail business left in the city. In the six years from 1967 to 1972 the number of retail businesses declined from 860 to 462. From 1960 to 1974 total retail sales declined by 31 percent in East St. Louis at a time when sales in Illinois as a whole grew by 75 percent (Shafiq 1992).

By the 1960s what might have been described as fiscal instability became nothing short of financial crisis and disaster. One thing that was partially a result of a lack of funds was the deplorable condition of East St. Louis schools both physically and academically. By 1968 schools were in horrendous physical condition with old, dilapidated, and overcrowded buildings. Many students failed in the first three grades; dropout was a serious problem with 17.5 percent of students failing to complete sixth grade. Even those who stayed in school were getting a substandard education with 58.8 percent of students functioning below the sixth grade level. Teachers strikes were frequent adding to the problems of the East St. Louis school system (Teer 1968). During the 1960s the city was forced to resort to borrowing money just to operate on a daily basis. The result was a large and steadily increasing debt. Money to service the debt was drawn from property taxes. In 1951 6.2 percent of property taxes went to pay of such debts; by 1966 this percentage was 35.6. Not only were debts getting larger year by year but property taxes collected were declining as housing deteriorated and tax delinquency increased (Washnis 1968). In 1960 the assessed value of property in East St Louis was approximately 187.6 million dollars; by 1972 this value had dropped to 148 million and by 1980 it had plummeted to less than 58.1 million dollars (Shafiq 1992).

As East St. Louis lost its position as a major industrial center it found no replacement role. It did not develop as a retail market center as did the nearby city of Fairview Heights, nor could it play any major part as a center for local government. Despite East St. Louis being the largest city within the Metro-east it was Belleville that was the center of county government (Washnis 1967). The city did not develop as a bedroom community for St. Louis (Teer 1968) and residents of East St. Louis could not even realistically look across the river for employment. Both travel across the river to St. Louis and discrimination presented barriers for East St. Louis residents (Washnis 1968).

Despite the rapid decline of the city some predicted a bright future for East St. Louis listing a host of advantages. In a report prepared by Evert Kincaid and Associates Inc. in 1965 manufacturing was said to be the key to the future. The city, it was said, had a good supply of industrial land, a centralized market for products, abundant labor, excellent transportation networks, and an outstanding supply of raw materials, all of which would proof attractive to industries looking for a new location. With this anticipated future industrial growth population growth was also anticipated. By 1980 the population of the city was projected to be 105,000 (Evert Kincaid and Associates 1965). This optimistic vision proved to be far from reality as East St. Louis moved beyond the 1960s.

East St. Louis in Recent Years

Rather than improving it seems that the plight of East St. Louis deepened in recent years. An increasing number of roads carved their way across the city, fragmenting it, destroying neighborhoods, and requiring services. East St. Louis is transected by more interstate highways than any other city except Chicago. With a police force of just 66 officers personnel are often diverted to deal with automobile accidents. In 1990 as of June 14th and overburdened police department had dealt with over 15,000 calls (Officer 1990).

Industry showed no sign of returning but instead more industries closed. The National Stockyards, an institution in East St. Louis since 1873 and part of a packing industry that had once employed 10,000 people, finally closed its doors in September 1997. At the time of closing they employed a mere handful of people but the symbolism was clear. By 1990 at total of at least 25,000 or as many as 45,000 jobs had been lost (Penry 1990). Those industries that did not close remained firmly entrenched in outlying areas beyond the city limits, not paying taxes but producing a demand for services (Shafiq 1992).

As a result residents of East St. Louis still lacked jobs; in 1990 the jobless rate in East St. Louis was 24.6 percent (Bureau of the Census 1993). This lack of jobs has plunged the city into deep poverty. In 1980 the median income in East St. Louis was $7,710 compared to $16,119 for the county as a whole. The decline in income is clear; in 1950 median income in East St. Louis was 97 percent of the county wide median, in 1960 it was 76 percent, in 1970 70 percent, in 1980 48 percent, and in 1990 49 percent (Saleh 1992; Shafiq 1992). In 1989 fully 43.9 percent of all residents had incomes below the official poverty line (Bureau of the Census 1993). Even banks, it seems, began to abandon the city; Union Bank long headquartered in downtown East St. Louis moved to the nearby city of Swansea taking with it a substantial number of jobs and leaving behind an empty building as testament to the city's continuing decline. The continuing decline in income and the local economy was reflected in the 62 percent reduction of bank deposits in East St. Louis from 1981 to 1996 when measured in constant dollars (Zhou 1997).

Population continued to be lost; instead of the population of 105,000 predicted for 1980 actual population in that year was 55,200; by 1990 the population had fallen to 40,944. As the city entered the decade of the 90s population loss continued apace; by 1992 the population of this once thriving industrial center was reduced to 38,404 (Bureau of the Census 1994). As a 1991 article in the New York Times reported 'The decline of East St. Louis has been so rapid that virtually anyone who can afford to leave has moved away' (Saleh 1992).

Nor did the housing situation improve appreciably. Vacancy rates increased and increasingly people were living in public housing. By 1980 fully 33 percent of East St. Louis' population resided in public housing (Shafiq 1992). Despite a waiting list of over 2000 one third of public housing remained vacant with one half of vacant units being uninhabitable (Sullivan 1990). There was little building of new homes in recent years partly as a result of redlining by banks, although a credit union was established in 1983 to try to counter this practice. In 1985 housing problems were brought home by the actions of HUD who took over public housing putting a private company in charge as manager. The reasons for this takeover were cited as fiscal mismanagement, theft by the local administration, and lack of maintenance leading to building deterioration. In 1991 a block grant to improve housing was canceled because of implementation problems. HUD poured 131 million dollars into the city between 1974 and 1985 seemingly with minimal effect (Sullivan 1990; Shafiq 1992).

Whites continued to abandon the city at such a pace that by 1980 East St. Louis was 97 percent black (Shafiq 1992). In 1990 of the 40,944 residents of the city only 644 were white (Bureau of the Census 1994). Whites were not the only ones to leave; African-American also left the city as it became clear that the economic depression in the city was chronic (Officer 1990).

Crime and corruption continue to be problems that plague the city. In 1986-87 the crime rate was 9587 per 100,000 inhabitants a figure almost twice that for the county as a whole (Saleh 1992). By the early 1990s this rate had risen to over 11,500 (Slater and Hall 1994). Local newspapers such as the Belville News-Democrat and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch are filled with stories of violence, drugs, and crimes against property in East St. Louis. There also seems to be no end to stories of corruption. One recent example concerns the theft of a very substantial amount of money from the school athletic program by the director (Belleville News-Democrat 1997a). This from a school system that is in dire trouble. City government appears dysfunctional; rather than effectively running the city some people in local government seem to view providing jobs to relatives and cronies as their primary role. The city has employed seven city managers in the last five years. A new city manager hired in July 1997 was fired in October for trying to curb the system of patronage and nepotism that permeates the city government and other institutions in East St. Louis (Hafemeister 1997a; St. Louis Post-Dispatch 1997). City government is in such disarray that a state oversight panel is in place in an attempt to oversee finances and improve the functioning of city institutions. In December 1997 the state panel recommended laying off thirteen percent of the city workforce in an effort to balance the city budget and combat nepotism (Hafemeister 1997b).

The legacy of an insufficient tax base to meet service demands remains; between 1987 and 1992 the city could not even provide garbage collection (ESLARP 1997). Factories remain located outside the city, while straining services and polluting the environment. East St. Louis has had the highest tax rate in Illinois for the last three decades. In 1990 a person owning a $60,000 home would incur an annual property tax bill of approximately $4000 (Wallace 1990; Saleh 1992). Insurance costs are also high and delinquent taxes are an increasing problem (Officer 1990; Saleh 1992). In 1969 4 percent of taxes went uncollected; by 1983 this rate was up to over 21 percent. Approximately half the property taxes collected go to pay off past debts. Despite an influx of revenue from river boat gambling the city of East St. Louis has horrendous debts, 43.8 million dollars in 1989, and avoids bankruptcy only because of infusions of state and federal money. In short the city is in fiscal chaos and cannot provide basic services or maintain infrastructure and buildings. Pollution also remains a serious problem. There is a great deal of vacant land throughout the city, much of it polluted with contaminants such as lead, arsenic, mercury and steroids (Kozol 1997). There are 10 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) superfund sites, 21 sites listed with the EPA, 41 landfills, 9 surface impoundments, and 40 active sites with special waste handlers (Saleh 1992; Slater and Hall 1994; Lugge 1997). Along with industrial waste the city has suffered from numerous incidents of flooding and the backup of sewers into basements, homes, schools, and public areas. The effects of environmental pollution can be seen in the health of city residents especially the children; for example East St. Louis has one of the highest child asthma rates in the country as well as high rates of fetal and infant deaths (Kozol 1991).

Many of the problems of East St. Louis come together in the school system. The state financial oversight panel is not only involved with monitoring city finances but is also charged with trying to improve the function of school district 189. The schools and standard of education children in East St. Louis receive can only be described as abysmal. Over 70 percent of students fail to meet state standards (Sorkin and Smith 1997b), and less than 56 percent of adults over 25 have graduated from high school (Bureau of the Census 1993). Recent newspaper articles chronicle events such as teachers sleeping in class and cursing students, students playing cards, and classes being taught by janitors and sixth grade students. Physical conditions at schools include leaking roofs, buildings riddled with asbestos, floods of untreated sewage, broken furniture, roaches, locked fire doors, filthy restrooms, lack of books and equipment, students standing in class because of a lack of desks, and even the absence of basic necessities such as toilet paper (Kozol 1991; Maty 1997; Sorkin and Smith 1997a). Residents on the fringe of the school district have successfully petitioned to be detached from the district (Maty 1997), and it is a measure of the problem that the American Civil Liberties Union is suing to force the state to abolish the school district. Lack of money is by no means the root of the problem since a majority of dollars to run the schools come from outside the city. It seems corruption and crime permeate the school system. Equipment and money 'disappear' and the school board appears to follow the lead of city government functioning to protect and perpetuate a system of patronage and nepotism (Parks 1990; Sorkin and Smith 1997a).

The overall picture of East St. Louis in the 1990s is bleak. Yelvington (1990) and Flood (1990) describe a landscape of abandoned cars, railroad tracks, overflowing trash dumpsters and piles of garbage in the streets, polluted air, soil, and water, trashed vacant lots, crumbling and burned out buildings, gang graffiti, failed housing projects, and collapsing sewers. A city in severe distress with no attraction for business or residents. The human landscape is one of poverty, ill-health, premature death, lack of education, crime, corruption, unemployment, resignation, anger, and despair (Kozol 1991). Some see the problems of East St. Louis as rooted in poverty and unemployment (McGaughy 1990), others point to problems of leadership (Carson 1990; Kassing 1990), fiscal management (Wallace 1990), crime (Costello 1990), the poor school system (Lazerson 1990), or racial discrimination and distrust (Baricevic 1990; Officer 1990).

Glen Carbon - Edwardsville

The Pre-depression years

Much less information is available which chronicles the historical development of Glen Carbon-Edwardsville than is available concerning East St. Louis. These cities that are functionally interdependent and lie contiguous to each other some fourteen miles north-northeast of East St. Louis lack drama in their history and offer no mercurial rise and fall to attract the attention of scholars and journalists. Unlike the city of East St. Louis whose name in familiar to many people nationwide, Glen Carbon-Edwardsville is a place unknown to most people that has quietly risen to relative affluence.

The city of Edwardsville had its beginning around 1816 when the site was surveyed and laid out. Interest in the location was primarily due to the settlement's natural setting on Cahokia Creek and the nearby bluffs of the Mississippi River, as well as the establishment of the Federal Land Office there in 1816 (Smith and Miles 1989; Norrish 1991). Anyone settling north of the Kaskaskia district was compelled to enter any land claim at that office. The first census taken in Edwardsville in 1818 revealed a tiny population of 166. The second decade of the nineteenth century was important in forming the character of Edwardsville. In 1817 the first courthouse was built establishing the function as a county seat. A library was built before 1819, a bank was established in 1818, the first school opened in 1817, a newspaper began publication in 1819, and Edwardsville was incorporated in 1819 making it the third oldest incorporated settlement in Illinois (Smith and Miles 1989; Norrish 1991). A little to the southwest Glen Carbon, then known as the Goshen settlement, was a productive farming community that had first been settled by Colonel Samuel Judy in the first decade of the nineteenth century (Village of Glen Carbon and Goshen Preservation Alliance 1985). Part of the Goshen settlement was later organized as a 'village' in 1892 with the establishment of coal mines (Raffaelle 1973; Village of Glen Carbon 1984).

The communities of Glen Carbon and Edwardsville did experience industrial growth around the same time that East St. Louis was developing into a major industrial center. The latter half of the nineteen century brought a range of industries including flour mills, a carriage factory, cooper shops, marble works, brickyards, breweries, grain elevators, a cigar factory, a soda factory, and coal mines to Edwardsville. Seven veins of coal that ran beneath Glen Carbon transformed a relatively scattered agricultural community into a thriving coal mining town (Smith and Miles 1989; Norrish 1991; Cedeck et al 1992).

Glen Carbon and Edwardsville took slightly different directions in their early development. Edwardsville consolidated its role as the administrative center of Madison County; the town was the site of three successive county courthouses built in 1817, 1826, and 1857 that symbolized development, security and growth (Smith and Miles 1989; Nore and Norrish 1996). The threat of removal of the courthouse was linked to population loss in the 1820s and 1830s, but the town soon recovered when it became clear its governmental role was assured (Southwestern Illinois Metropolitan Area Planning Commission 1970). This administrative function was in addition to the range of small scale industry already mentioned, brick manufacture which had a history as long as the town, and coal mining (Norrish 1988). In contrast Glen Carbon had no administrative function but was the hub of a rich agricultural region. The village was also involved in brewing, brick manufacturing, and mining based on a rich vein of bituminous coal. Coal mine number one was sunk in 1889, and an additional two mines were opened in subsequent years (Village of Glen Carbon 1984; Village of Glen Carbon and Goshen Preservation Society 1985; Cedeck et al 1992).

By 1890 the furry of economic activity had swelled the population of Edwardsville township to 4844. In 1892 the population of Glen Carbon was 400. The cities of Glen Carbon and Edwardsville grew modestly rather than explosively as migrants came to fill jobs in mining and industry (Village of Glen Carbon 1984; Cedeck et al 1992).

The demographics of the population did change during this period of population growth. Data gathered in 1876 revealed a male population composed largely of European immigrants; 318 immigrants hailed from eighteen European countries. Noticeably absent was any black population. Only two African-Americans lived in Glen Carbon in 1876 (Raffaelle 1973; Village of Glen Carbon 1985; Harris 1992). A similar picture emerges of Edwardsville. Virtually all immigrants were from Europe and there was little migration of African-Americans into the community. Edwardsville did have a nucleus of black population and in fact a black elementary school was built in 1869. Many of the African-American's who lived in Edwardsville prior to the Civil War were 'free', largely a result of the freeing of his slaves by a prominent resident Edward Coles. The majority of residents did not share Cole's egalitarian spirit and there was no active abolitionist society in Edwardsville. Even after the Civil War a system of discrimination, segregation, and what has been described as pseudo-slavery, continued. African-Americans were not welcomed as immigrants to Glen Carbon-Edwardsville; racially the cities remained over-whelmingly white even during the period of population increase associated with the growth of industry (Norrish 1991; Nore and Norrish 1996).

The industry that came to Glen Carbon-Edwardsville was involved in the development of housing in the cities. Madison County Coal Corporation platted much of the land in Glen Carbon and another major land-holder was St. Louis Press Brick Co. These companies held the enlightened philosophy that workers should have the quality of housing and amenities necessary to enjoy a good life. The concept was that content workers would be loyal and productive, and the company houses that were built provided comfortable homes (Raffaelle 1973; Village of Glen Carbon and Goshen Preservation Alliance 1985; Norrish 1988; Cedeck et al 1992). In Edwardsville a grand experiment by N.O. Nelson set the tone. In 1890 Nelson brought his brass works to Edwardsville and instituted a profit sharing scheme modeled after that of the profit sharing pioneer Leclaire and designed to address the 'irresistible conflict' between owners and laborers. The 'six principles for rational living' were said to be work, education, recreation, beauty, homes, and freedom, and under this scheme social facilities, homes, and quality of life were deemed more important than profit to shareholders (Norrish 1991; Nore and Norrish 1996).

From their earliest period of growth both Glen Carbon and Edwardsville, developed a climate in which the community planned an ordered development. At the time of incorporation Edwardsville appointed a board of trustees and Glen Carbon likewise established a village board of trustees in 1892 (Raffaelle 1973; Village of Glen Carbon and Goshen Preservation Alliance 1985; Norrish 1991). Glen Carbon in particular established strict control by instituting a corporation tax in the form of a dram shop license in 1910. The fees collected from saloons gave a measure of fiscal stability to Glen Carbon contributing well over eighty percent of village income around the turn of the century (Raffaelle 1973; Cedeck et al 1992).

Thus, up to the time of the Depression a picture emerges of Glen Carbon-Edwardsville as a thriving economy based on coal mining, brick making, a variety of small industrial establishments, and administration. They constituted a well ordered community where citizens enjoyed amenities such as paved streets, sidewalks, electricity, indoor plumbing. and public trams.

The Depression years

The depression era did bring changes to Glen Carbon-Edwardsville but they came slowly and even during the lean years population continued to grow (Smith and Miles 1989; Nore and Norrish 1996). Many businesses survived the Depression but the last of the Madison County coal mines that had thrived in the first two decades of the century closed in 1934. The garment industry that was part of the Edwardsville scene did not survive the 1930s and many, but not all, brickyards closed. World War II lent some vigor to the economy and while industries such as Wagner Electric and the U.S. Radiator Corporation continued to close, Glen Carbon-Edwardsville started to find new roles beyond industry (Southwestern Illinois Metropolitan Area Planning Commission 1970; Norrish 1988; Smith and Miles 1989; Nore and Norrish 1996).

The Post-depression years

The cities began to emerge as residential suburban communities catering to the more affluent of the area. A private lake and surrounding subdivision was developed beginning in 1939 by O.T. Dunlap and several other subdivisions were constructed in the 1940s and 1950s. Residents of Glen-Carbon-Edwardsville began to commute to work in close-by communities such as Granite City, Alton, Wood River, and even St. Louis. Edwardsville increased its administrative function with the location of the county public aid office in the city. The rail tracks that ran through the city were removed in the 1930s and in their place came electrically powered streetcars. Beginning in the 1940s Edwardsville became a stopping place on the Route 66 transcontinental highway. By 1960 Edwardsville had only one quarter of its workforce employed within manufacturing and the percentage was dropping with an increase in white collar and service jobs. As Glen Carbon- Edwardsville entered the 1960s they were already a community on track to become a residential and service center as construction of subdivisions and the first shopping center went on apace (Southwestern Illinois Metropolitan Area Planning Commission 1970; Village of Glen Carbon 1984; Smith and Miles 1989; Cedeck et al 1992; Nore and Norrish 1996).

In 1963 Glen Carbon-Edwardsville got a boost to its economy when it was decided, against some opposition, to locate a major university campus on the west side of Edwardsville. Ground for Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE) was broken on May 2nd 1963. Accompanying the building of the SIUE campus was a large housing development designed to accommodate students and staff. Both SIUE and county government became major white-collar employers for residents of Glen Carbon-Edwardsville and marked an end to any reliance on labor intensive manufacturing (Smith and Miles 1989; Norrish 1991; Nore and Norrish 1996).

Glen Carbon-Edwardsville in Recent Years

Since the 1960s major growth in Glen Carbon-Edwardsville has been residential, retail, and administrative. Numerous subdivisions have been built, partially spurred by the construction of Interstate 270 just to the south of Glen Carbon that affords easy access to St. Louis. Glen Carbon was the fastest growing community in a seven county southwestern Illinois area in the 1970s with a growth rate of 174 percent. By 1996 over 400 building permits were being issued annually in Glen Carbon-Edwardsville with a value exceeding fifty four million dollars. SIUE, in the past primarily a commuter campus, began a program of building dormitories for students increasing the proportion of its 11,000 students that live in Edwardsville. Glen Carbon-Edwardsville has beyond doubt found a major role as a residential community. Growth as a residential center has meant rapid population growth; by 1996 the population of Glen Carbon-Edwardsville exceeded 30,000 (Village of Glen Carbon 1984; Smith and Miles 1989; Cedeck et al 1992; Alliance of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon 1997; Paschall 1997).

Retail facilities have expanded to fill the demands of the growing, and relatively affluent, population. In 1996 the value of permits for new commercial property exceeded fifteen million dollars as major national stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, Revco, Sears, Office Max, Big Lots, Steak and Shake, and Lion's Choice planned or built facilities. Such stores bring sales tax dollars to the community as well as serving its residents. One point worthy of note is that rapid residential and commercial development has been closely regulated by detailed zoning ordinances designed to plan and control growth (Village of Glen Carbon 1984; Smith and Miles 1989; Cedeck et al 1992; Alliance of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon 1997).

With the completion of a large new administrative building as an addition to the courthouse in 1992 Edwardsville consolidated its position as the seat of county government and administration. Approximately thirty six county offices with their various sub-units are located in Edwardsville, and the buildings that house this node of administration dominate Main Street.

The shift toward an economy based on residential, administrative, service and retail functions that has occurred since the 1960s has resulted in some changing demographics. The location of SIUE in Edwardsville has been a force to promote racial diversity. As of 1996 almost nine percent of residents in Glen Carbon-Edwardsville were black and over two percent were Asian. African-Americans can be seen serving the community in prominent positions such as school district superintendent and city councilman (Nore and Norrish 1996; Alliance of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon 1997). It must be noted, however, that neighborhoods continue to be racially segregated and there is sometimes resistence, often subtle, to African-Americans moving into 'white' neighborhoods.

Unemployment is not a problem in Glen Carbon-Edwardsville; the unemployment rate in 1990 was 3.5 and 4.3 percent in Glen Carbon and Edwardsville respectively. This compares to a rate in Illinois of 5.7 percent (Alliance of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon 1997; Bureau of the Census 1993). SIUE employs approximately 1800 people, county government another 1000, and the Edwardsville Community School District #7 a further 700. Insurance, financial, senior care centers, and retail establishments employ considerable numbers of people. The largest manufacturing company is Richards Brick, a remnant of the former extensive brick industry, which employs 100 people. Heavy commuter traffic on both Interstate 270 to the south and Interstate 55 to the east is testament to the fact that large numbers of residents travel to jobs elsewhere in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The daily traffic count on interstate 270 at a point close to Glen Carbon-Edwardsville is 44,600 (Norrish 1988; Alliance of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon 1997).

The quality of employment is reflected in the relatively high income of Glen Carbon-Edwardsville residents. Median household income was $43,287 and per capita income $16,957 in 1990 for Glen Carbon; similar figures for Edwardsville were $32,733 and $15,338 (Bureau of the Census 1993). Such incomes can only go up as the vast majority of new homes that are being built cost over $100,000 to buy, and several developments offer homes at a cost of over $250,000. Out of a total of 446 building permits issued in 1996 only 18 were for multi-family dwellings; an indication that new arrivals to the community are occupying relatively expensive single-family homes (Alliance of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon 1997). The economic health of the community is also indicated by the fact that an increasing number of banking firms and facilities have opened for business since the 1980s. In the Glen Carbon-Edwardsville area bank deposits increased by over 220 percent between 1981 and 1996 (Zhou 1997).

Nowhere is the economic well-being of Glen Carbon-Edwardsville better reflected than in its school system. Edwardsville Community School District #7 operates 11 schools including a middle school and high school that had a total enrollment of over 2000 in 1996. High school seniors test above both state and national averages and the graduation rate is 88%. The school district was also listed in Money Magazine's ranking of the top one hundred school districts in the nation in 1996 and 1997. In 1997 a new high school was dedicated that was built at a cost of 23 million dollars. The architecturally designed 312,000 square foot building is located on a sixty acre site and is designed to accommodate some 2,400 students. Facilities include 100 classrooms each equipped with a computer, a media and technology center, a 625 seat auditorium, and two gymnasiums (Alliance of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon 1997).

Planning for the future growth of Glen Carbon-Edwardsville is ongoing. The Alliance of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon, a thirteen member alliance, which utilizes the resources of local business, local government, and SIUE is fully staffed and has as its mission the future development of the community (Eufinger 1997a). Money has already been appropriated to construct and improve roads to alleviate the traffic problems that come with growth. A new transit station is under construction on Main Street that will become a focal point for transportation routes in the area (Alliance of Edwardsville and Glen Carbon 1997; Eufinger 1997b). Parking is being improved to facilitate downtown shopping with the construction of the 'Superlot' (Eufinger 1997c). A TIF district is in place and a tax abatement plan has been approved that is hoped will lure businesses to an enterprise zone to the south of Edwardsville (Smith and Miles 1989; Mansfield 1997). Strict planning codes remain in place designed to preserve and rejuvenate downtown areas in both Glen Carbon and Edwardsville, as well as to keep the future growth of residential, retail, commercial, and industrial activities separated (Village of Glen Carbon 1984; Smith and Miles 1989).


Despite the proximity of East St. Louis and Glen Carbon-Edwardsville their economic roots are fundamentally different, and were based initially on the physical geography of the local environment. On the bank of the Mississippi river across from St. Louis to the west, East St. Louis was a natural choice to be a transportation link with the west. Edwardsville, on the other hand, situated on the bluffs above the river offered a landscape that attracted several prominent residents, who in the early days of the region were natural choices to become administrators. Neither Edwardsville nor Glen Carbon had roots in the rail transportation industry as did East St. Louis. While rail links were certainly important to their well being, they were not central to the early development of either city. Rail lines ran through the cities but did not converge on them; they served but did not segment or define the communities. Thus, rather than becoming a focus for transportation, Edwardsville emerged early as a center of government. The fertile land surrounding Glen Carbon and the coal seams that ran beneath the community dictated that the economy of Glen Carbon be built on agriculture and coal.

Another crucial difference between the communities of East St. Louis and Glen Carbon-Edwardsville involved the scale of industrialization that occurred in the latter part of the nineteenth century and in the early decades of the twentieth century. In East St. Louis the combination of river transport, a rail hub, and virtually unlimited available flat land spurred very rapid industrialization on a grade scale. In contrast, industrialization in Glen Carbon-Edwardsville was slower paced and on a much more modest scale. The scale and pace of industrialization had numerous lasting consequences for both communities.

Perhaps the most fundamental consequence was in terms of population growth and the nature of migration. The railyards, stockyards, and the opening of numerous large industrial plants in East St. Louis over the course of a few short years must have spread the news of available jobs throughout the country. As a result uncontrollable waves of people descended on the city. Many jobs were unskilled and attracted African-Americans from the south. It can be assumed that the small initial population of East St. Louis did not welcome black migrants in search of work, but their sheer numbers along with migrants from Europe made it impossible to stem the flow. In contrast, Glen Carbon-Edwardsville had relatively few jobs to offer and it is doubtful whether the rest of the country knew of them. In addition many jobs demanded skills, for example mining and brick manufacture, that African-Americans were unlikely to possess. The few African-Americans who may have attempted to take jobs in Glen Carbon-Edwardsville could have been easily discouraged. Glen Carbon-Edwardsville was not over whelmed by a flood of migrants as was East St. Louis; the total population of under six thousand in 1890 for the two communities was a far cry from the 25,000 population of East St. Louis. Glen Carbon-Edwardsville managed to remain selective about who was welcomed to the community. Racial tension early on became a part of East St. Louis life. Prejudice against African-Americans took the form of discrimination against, and segregation of, the large group of black residents of East St. Louis. In Glen Carbon-Edwardsville there was little racial tension since few African-Americans lived in the community. Here discrimination took the form of a concerted effort to keep African-Americans out of the area.

The influx of unskilled laborers who converged on East St. Louis must have made planning, policing, and social control extremely difficult. The growth of the railyards were already a magnet for crime. Boxcars loaded with a variety of goods made a tempting target for anyone with a less than honest disposition. The mines and brickyards of Glen Carbon-Edwardsville offered no similar temptation, and planning and policing the community remained a feasible task as a small stream of migrants entered and integrated with the community.

The nature of the industry attracted was also of importance. For large companies such as Monsanto, Aluminum Ore Co., and National Stockyards profit was the only consideration. They exploited the environment and the people of East St. Louis in whatever ways they could in the unbridled pursuit of maximum profits for shareholders. Glen Carbon-Edwardsville in general attracted smaller companies who seemed less thoroughly exploitive, and the community was fortunate to be the location of some establishments who acknowledged the importance of the welfare of workers and the community.

As the Depression of the 1930s hit the two communities they reacted in different ways due to their past development. Booming East St. Louis went bust; the previously mercurial rise of industry meant the city had much more to lose than Glen Carbon-Edwardsville. Also the relationship of industry with the city and its citizens was such that they felt few ties to the community. In Glen Carbon-Edwardsville many businesses were small and locally owned. Survival of the community and businesses was linked together and ties were strong. As in many small towns across America people and business worked together to survive the hard times, and while they did not emerge unscathed the decline was less severe that in East St. Louis.

After the Depression began to subside a pivotal point came for the economies of East St. Louis and Glen Carbon-Edwardsville. Both communities must recoup from the lean years and move beyond their reliance on industry. Picture the scene in East St. Louis. A landscape of railyards, empty crumbling factories, polluted land, dilapidated housing, surrounded by industrial complexes just beyond the city limits, and a population increasing black and unskilled. Given the unattractive environment and the racial prejudices of the day it is hardly surprising that East St. Louis found no niche as a residential community or retail/service center. Glen Carbon-Edwardsville, located on the rolling landscape of the bluffs, offered the most attractive landscape in the area as well as an atmosphere of ordered, small town living. In addition the primary white population attracted the emerging middle class who were themselves of European origin.

The inability of East St. Louis to recover from the Depression or to find new economic roles had a snowball effect in later years, leaving the city drained of people, jobs, fiscal resources, and hope. Legacies of the past such as crime, corruption, fiscal chaos, and environmental blight continue to plague the city. It is a present, and seemingly a future, based on a history that will be extremely difficult to break away from. East St. Louis' problems today are largely it seems, a product of its earlier industrial success. With the economy of the United Stated increasingly rooted in service industries and high technology occupations the future for East St. Louis indeed seems bleak. Perhaps as people continue to leave the city East St. Louis will become a place with minimal population; little more than a scar on the landscape and a testament to the greed of industry and the prejudice of people.

Glen Carbon-Edwardsville can soon be expected to exceed East St. Louis in terms of population, and the most serious problem the community faces is managing its own growth. The tale of these two cities illustrates the polarization socially, economically, and geographically that is increasingly a part of American life. They represent both the best of times and the worst of times; just fourteen miles apart they constitute two different worlds.

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