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Glimpses of Old St. Louis


The Riverfront in 1858

"An English visitor in 1858 was impressed by the levee "which extends for nearly six miles, about half of which length is built upon. The bustle of the levee was the pride of every true St. Louisan. The sound of steamship whistles and bells mingled with the noise of the tambourine girls, organ grinders and bagpipe performers, the rasping of fiddlers and the musical cries of apple girls, cigar vendors, and bootblacks. Loafers, drunkards, pickpockets, confidence men and rowdies from nearby saloons continued to give the area a wicked glitter. Hoards of homeless children darted about, living by their wits and seeking shelter in forgotten corners. Young girls earned a few pennies by exposing themselves to the steamboatmen. Draymen cursed their heavily laden wagons all the way to the landing stages; drivers of carriages and hacks carefully picked their way skillfully through the crowds to deliver or pick up passengers."

(Source:  St. Louis Mailing List submission from Gary Stoltman, Mercerville, NJ dated 14 May, 2002)