Happy Birthday St. Louis

The City of St. Louis turns 250 years old during 2014.  Since historians do not know the official date of the city’s founding, it was decided to start the year-long celebration this February.  In honor of this celebration, Modern Graphic History Library, a part of Washington University in St. Louis, would like to share some of its St. Louis-related images.


illustrated by Milton Glaser, 1964, publication unknown

This riverboat artwork was created by Milton Glaser, for a travel article for an unknown publication.  Glaser is known for the brightly colored “push-pin style” which was popular in the 1960s and 1970s.  Push-pin borrows from earlier styles, such as collage and art deco.  The illustration highlights many of the attractions in Forest Park and still captures the spirit that St. Louis is a riverfront town.

In addition to travel articles, travel advertisements also appeared for the city.

The St. Louis Chamber of Commerce ran this ad in 1926 promoting the benefits of St. Louis’ central location for shipping and production.

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illustrated by unknown artist, Collier’s, November 27, 1926

In this 1957 ad for all the places in Missouri to spend a vacation, many St. Louis attractions are noted, including the St. Louis Zoo, the Missouri Botanical Garden and the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

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illustrated by unknown artist, Holiday, 1957

The Cardinals have also received many cover stories in Time.   In 1955 the magazine ran a feature on Anheuser-Busch chairman August “Gussie” Busch, Jr. who was also the owner of the baseball team from 1953 – 1989.  The cover is drawn by self-taught artist Ernest Hamlin Baker, who illustrated over 300 covers for Time in a 17-year period.

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illustrated by Ernest Hamlin Baker, Time, July 11, 1955

One cannot talk about the history of St. Louis without talking about the 1904 World’s Fair, officially known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.  Judge Magazine featured drawings of “girls” from different American cities in 1903.  The St. Louis Girl, of course, was going to the exposition and would be “the fairest at the fair.”

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illustration by James Montgomery Flagg, Judge Magazine, November 14, 1903

Happy 250th, St. Louis!


The Missouri vacation ad is from Modern Graphic History Library’s Periodicals Collection.

The other images are from the Walt Reed Illustration Archive.

About the author

Andrea Degener is the Visual Materials Processing Archivist in the department of Special Collections at Washington University Libraries.