east saint louis
city, St. Clair county, southwestern Illinois, U.S. It lies along the Mississippi River opposite St. Louis, Missouri. About 1797 a ferry station was established on the site by Captain James Piggott, a pioneer and Illinois territorial judge, and in 1818 a village was laid out. Originally known as Illinoistown, it was destroyed by flooding in 1844 and later rebuilt. Illinoistown was incorporated in 1859, and two years later it was renamed East St. Louis. Beginning with barge traffic down the Mississippi and continuing with the arrival of the first railroad (1855) and the building of the Eads Bridge (1874) across the river, the city developed as a transportation centre. Nearby coal deposits also contributed to East St. Louis's growth. Meatpacking became a major industry after the opening of the National Stock Yards (1873) in adjoining National City, and manufacturing industries began to arrive in large numbers. The employment of African American workers in a factory during World War I led to the East St. Louis Race Riot of 1917, one of the worst incidents of racial violence in the United States during the war.
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