Chicago and St. Louis Compared

Chicago and St. Louis Compared

Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri Two American Midwestern cities just 260 miles (418 km) apart, although if you’ve seen Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, you’d think they were a lot further away than that. Wait, why I am comparing these two cities? Why not Chicago and Houston? Or St. Louis and Kansas City? Doesn’t that make more sense? Well kind of. But I’m comparing Chicago and St. Louis because those two cities were once in direct competition to become the biggest and most important city in the Midwest. I’m making this video in collaboration with Dave from the channel City Beautiful. On his channel, he has a video explaining why and how Chicago beat out St. Louis to indeed become THE biggest, most important Midwestern city. Be sure to check it out after you’re done watching this one. Once upon a time, it was actually St. Louis that appeared to be destined to become the biggest, most important American Midwestern city. First of all, St. Louis is older than Chicago. It was founded by the French in 1764, after they lost the Seven Years’ War. Basically, French settlers fled there from the east after the British took over their former territory. For its first 38 years, St. Louis was under Spanish control. So while the French lived there, the Spanish guarded the town during that time. In those early years, St. Louis established itself as a major fur trading center. In 1803, when it had maybe 1,000 people living there, the United States bought Louisiana from France after it briefly took it back over. St. Louis, being in Louisiana, was now an American city, and became the administrative capital of all of Louisiana Territory. After Lewis and Clark left St. Louis exploring this vast territory, others would follow, and the city became a hub for folks on their way out to the “Wild West.” St. Louis steadily grew, it’s population nearing 5,000 by 1830. In 1833, when St. Louis was 69 years old, Chicago was finally born. I mean, St. Louis was a creepy old man by the time Chicago came around. While St. Louis was mostly a fur trading hub, Chicago quickly became a transportation hub, a way to connect the east, where most Americans lived, to the west. It was the site of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, completed in 1848 to connect the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River. After a couple decades, it became the most important railroad city in the country. Throughout the 1800s, St. Louis and Chicago both grew like crazy thanks to industrialization and the huge amounts of immigrants settling in both cities. But St. Louis stayed in the lead until the 1870s. As matter of fact, in 1870 there was a movement to make St. Louis the new capital of the United States since it was more centrally located and less swampy than Washington, D.C. By 1880, though, Chicago had over half a million people and St. Louis had just over 350,000. What happened during that decade? Well, basically Chicago embraced the railroad industry, while St. Louis did not, trying to protect the riverboat industry instead and not even granting the permits needed to build railroad bridges across the Mississippi River. So despite St. Louis arguably being a better location as a railway hub compared to Chicago, Chicago became the rail city. City Beautiful will get more into that in his video. Both cities had growing pains for sure. The pollution stories during this massive growth are well documented and horrifying. Both had devastating fires during this growth. St. Louis had a devastating fire that wiped out much of the city in 1849. Chicago, well, it had one too, that was much more devastating than that one. The Great Chicago Fire, which raged on for three days in October 1871, killed around 300 people and completely destroyed most of the city, leaving more than 100,000 citizens homeless. During the Gilded Age, both cities continued to quickly grow, but Chicago was where most of the immigrants ended up. By the end of the 1800s, Chicago was THE place for labor unions, where they became the most powerful in the country. In 1904, Chicago won to host the Olympic Games over St. Louis. However, St. Louis had the last laugh after the Olympics were transferred there instead. Why? Well the World’s Fair, which was also in St. Louis that year, said they would host their own world athletics competition unless the Olympics also moved to the city. During the Great Migration, Africans Americans from the South MIGRATED to both cities in GREAT numbers. Get it? See what I did there? By the Great Depression, Chicago was four times as big as St. Louis. Both cities had REALLY bad unemployment during those years. World War II briefly helped both cities economies get back on track, but after the war everybody started moving to their suburbs. In fact, the population of both Chicago and St. Louis peaked in the early 1950s and has been declining ever since. Today, Chicago is the third largest city in the country, but it has almost a million people less than it did in the 1950s. with Houston quickly catching up to it as it continues to decline in population. But of the two cities, it’s definitely St. Louis that has lost way more people. Today, it has just over 300,000. So it went from 8th largest to 62nd largest. Now, that said, for most of the rest of this video I’ll be talking about the two cities in terms of metropolitan areas, as I usually do when I make these. So in that case, both the Chicago and St. Louis metropolitan areas have continued to grow over the years, for the most part. And yep, Chicago has the third largest metro area in the United States. St. Louis? It’s the 21st largest metro. Better than 62nd. Today some of the biggest industries in Chicago include transportation, financial services, publishing, and engineering. However, its biggest three are more boring. Healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. Guess what? Those are also St. Louis’s biggest three industries. Chicago’s economy is obviously a lot bigger than St. Louis’s. And it has the equivalent of the 21st largest economy in the world, just higher than Switzerland, and four times as large as the economy of St. Louis. But tell me more about the people, Mr. Beat. In terms of ethnic backgrounds, Chicago is more diverse. Both tend to have younger residents compared to most other cities around the United States, although Chicago citizens are generally younger. Chicago citizens are more likely to be married. Chicago is also more religious than St. Louis. Both cities spend tons of money on education, although Chicago spends lots more than St. Louis. More folks in Chicago have college degrees compared to St. Louis. The average commute time in Chicago is surprisingly short- just 20 minutes, well below the national average, compared with 25 minutes in St. Louis. This is probably related to public transit. Public transit use is much higher in Chicago. In fact, the Regional Transit Authority, which serves Chicagoland, provides around 2 million rides per day. It’s the third biggest public transit system in North America, yo. But hold on. St. Louis’s MetroLink light rail system is pretty good for a city its size. Chicago’s traffic is pretty horrible compared to St. Louis’s traffic. What about other stuff that sucks? The air quality and water quality in both cities is way below the national average. You know what else sucks in both cities? Crime. But while Chicago has an infamous reputation when it comes to violent crime, St. Louis has a much higher murder rate compared to Chicago. In fact, in 2017 St. Louis had the highest murder rate in the United States. Chicago, surprisingly, came in ninth, with less than half the murder rate of St. Louis. So how about poverty? St. Louis has less poverty than Chicago. Man, I feel like this video is getting depressing. Let’s move on to lighter topics. Both cities are on the edge of their states, but influence a great deal of the rest of the state. As I alluded to before, St. Louis borders the mighty Mississippi River, the first strongest and second longest river in the country. But Chicago is along Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, and third largest lake in the country. Both cities have a humid continental climate, although St. Louis borders the humid subtropical climate zone, and Chicago’s weather is influenced by Lake Michigan. Chicago gets more snow (36in (91cm) vs. 15in. (38.1cm)) St. Louis gets more annual precipitation compared to Chicago, though. (43in (109cm) vs 35.8in (91cm)) St. Louis is much more hilly than Chicago. Chicago is A LOT more expensive to live in than St. Louis. Chicago’s housing costs alone are about 48% more expensive. Everything is cheaper living in St. Louis, and taxes are much less there. So what the heck Chicago? A 10.25% sales tax? Both cities have similar unemployment rates. Every time I go to Chicago, I am amazed at how far its suburbs go on and on and on and on. So needless to say, when researching for this video, was I surprised to find out that the Chicago metro area is not that dramatically larger than the St. Louis metro area. (Chicago-10,857 mi² STL-8,458 mi²) Chicago’s population density is just that much higher. It’s actually the 7th most dense metro in the country. Chicago has one of the most beautiful and unique skylines in the world. It certainly is my favorite downtown to visit. St. Louis, well it needs some work, but it does have a landmark that makes it stand out among all cities. The Gateway Arch, a 630-foot (192 m) monument completed in 1965, and now a symbol of the city. I’ve been there a few times, and it’s certainly one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited. Chicago has two international airports, St. Louis just one. Chicago has the second-tallest building in the United States, the Sears Tower, which apparently was renamed the Willis Tower years ago but nobody paid attention to that. But St. Louis is home to the largest beer brewing company in the world, Anheuser-Busch InBev, a Belgium company? What the heck? Chicago is known for their unique deep dish style pizza, but St. Louis has their own style going on. Chicago has more cool movies filmed there compared to St. Louis. What can I say, I’m a big John Hughes fan. St. Louis has cheaper tourist attractions. I mean, both the Saint Louis Zoo and Saint Louis Art Museum are freaking free. But Chicago has more. It has Millennium Park, Navy Pier, the Magnificent Mile, the Art Institute of Chicago. Wait, the Art Institute of Chicago is IN Chicago? Huh. Go figure. But St. Louis also has the City Museum and the Cahokia Mounds Historic Site. St. Louis actually used to be known as Mound City. And finally, let’s not forget professional sports. Chicago has The Bears for football, the Cubs and White Sox for baseball, the Bulls for basketball, and the Blackhawks for hockey. St. Louis, well, lost their professional basketball teams long ago and lost their NFL teams more recently, but still have the Cardinals for baseball and Blues for hockey. I didn’t have to research these two cities as much since I’m very familiar with both. However, another thing I discovered while researching was that a lot of St. Louis folks talk trash about Chicago, yet Chicago doesn’t even pay attention to St. Louis. It seems that St. Louis, just like every other city in the Midwest, is always in the shadow of Chicago. However, the two cities really don’t have THAT many differences. Plus, St. Louis residents can always brag about how they’re not getting ripped off living there compared to Chicago, and they can always just drive that 4 and a half hours for the extra attractions there anyway. St. Louis, you have an IKEA. You’ll be fine. Sami: Hey, what’s up St. Louis. It’s Sami from US 101 coming to you from my home in Chicago, Illinois. Just wanted to start off by saying that I’m super excited about this year’s football season guys ’cause I can’t wait for my team, the Chicago Bears to play your St. Louis Rams man. ohhhh wait a minute! That’s right. I forgot! You don’t have a team anymore. You got rid of them. Face it, St. Louis. Our city is better than yours. These are just facts. Our pizzas are deeper Our steaks are thicker Our hot dogs are more robust St. Louis, just do me a favor, just look at my view Look at my view, go ahead. LOOK AT MY VIEW. Ok? This city is an architect’s playground. This city had the very first skyscraper. Architects come from all over the world to show off and play around with their most innovative and ambitious designs. What do you guys have? An arch?!? Chicago even defies science, guys. Do you know that the Chicago River flows in the opposite direction of where it’s supposed to go? Do you know why? Because we wanted it to. We made the Chicago River flow backwards. And the best part. The best part… Back in the day, all of our sewage that we used to send down the Chicago River You know where it ended up? In your city. I hope you enjoyed drinking all that poop water. But all kidding aside St. Louis, I love you guys I really do We’re actually pulling for you But until that day comes…go Cubs go. Mr. Beat – Hey thanks, Sami. Be sure to check out US 101. Remember to also check out Dave’s video examing why and how Chicago beat out St. Louis over on his channel City Beautiful, literally one of my favorite channels on YouTube. I never miss one of his videos. and I’m incredibly excited about this collaboration. I’m going to take a little break from the United States. For this series. I’m not leaving the country or anything like that. Which two places should I compare next that are OUTSIDE the United States? I do need to get away for awhile. Also, a shout out to my newest Patreon supporters at the Grover Cleveland level, Chris and the TheNobleYoshi! Thanks for your support, and thank you for watching this whole darn thing.

100 Replies to “Chicago and St. Louis Compared”

  1. Curious, I hoped to get a little info about the architecture of both cities. I mean, I thought it was pretty obvious that the architectures sold their designs to each city. Or do their buildings just really look that similar?

    I don’t know, just a thought I had when I visited the two towns.

    Have to give it to olé St. Louie though! Love the place, it’s like the biggest little city in the U.S. Love it!!

  2. It’s 2019 and the black hawks have the …… oh wait that’s right the Stanley Cup is ours. Don’t cry Patrick Kane you can still admire it from your shit hole of a city


  4. Saint Louis residents as a whole is actually closer to a million, the 300,000+ number comes from STL city the city and the county legally separated in the late 1800's that is also why the murder percentage looks higher than it is.

  5. St. Louis Invented Toasted Ravioli, The Hill Italian Food District, St. Louis Cut/Style BBQ Ribs, Ted Drewes Ice Cream, You can't even Compare the STL Cardinals to the Chicago Cubs or White Sox's, Massive Ballpark Village, We have More Casino's, Amazon Distribution Center, Worlds Largest Beer Manufacturer (made from that shit water your sending us so drink up Chicago), Massive Forest Park, Grants Farm, City Museum for Kids (Look it Up), and Union Station Soon Home to One of the Largest Ferris Wheels, a Six Flags Amusement Park.

  6. As someone who lives in the St. Louis suburbs everything he said is accurate. I’d never trade our thin IMO’s pizza for anything!

  7. St louis spends a whooole lot of money on education, but our public schools are still considered some of the worst in the country. Shit is bonkers

  8. Which city is better? Mmm i dunno man. Which city is drowning the comment section with love and support for said city? Thats right, St. Louis.

  9. I've written like 4 comments at this point but i can't help but feel the information about st.louis is a little lacking in recent info and more biased

  10. STL FOR LIFE!!!! stl is very underrated. we have botanical gardens, an amazing zoo, many museums, busch stadium, enterprise center, amazing restaurants and toasted ravioli/bbq, and of course, the arch. we might also be getting a soccer team:)

  11. Both cities have their good points. You can find whatever you wish in either place. Both are great places to visit.

  12. We don't miss the Rams. Not at all. Most people said or thought 'good riddance' when they left. There are so many better NFL teams to follow.

  13. St. Louis people still say hello, and guys get the doors for women. In Chicago, a guy from St. Louis holds a door for his wife, and 6 Chicago assholes walk in before her. It’s really that bad. Traffic is 100x worse in Chicago. Gas costs more. Jobs are farther. People for the most part are rude af and have zero manners. St. Louis is my hometown. Born and raised. Got transferred for a transportation job, that when I got to Chicago they chased me out. Sucks to be better in transportation than most of the transport beat up here. It’s not a great place to live and winter is 5.75 months long. It sucks. The races suck. Nobody can drive. The sports fans are fair weather at best. They’re only fans when the team of the month is winning.

    We are leaving ASAP when our youngest graduates. Bye. I’ll come back to the city wheee lord Stanley resides currently. LGB!!!

  14. The real talk is St.louis has found a way to stay relatively economically stable without hurting Missouri even while another big city in Kansas city also exists there, whereas Chicago is literally causing the economic death of greater Illinois through corrupt politicians doing everything to placate Chicago while ignoring rest of the state, all in hopes to maintain a pointless crown as a midwest mecca. I have been watching city after city in Illinois crumble, if they are south of Springfield, over the past 20 years forcing the populations to migrate to either St. Louis, Chicago or be so disgusted they leave to Texas or the coasts.

  15. Both cities both get shot at every night I lived in both I know what's like don't try to f**** lie and say it's beautiful

  16. When talking about St Louis, do you consider the difference between St Louis the city and St Louis the county? They are two different things!

  17. I drive for a living and every time I’m in Chicago and surrounding areas I’m in a hurry the get out of there.
    Every time I’m in St. Louis. I love taking my time and even go driving around the city. I like the environment there very much.

  18. I'll give you one reason why Saint Louis is better than Chicago and that is the state of Missouri as more legal guns that we can legally carry (mic drop)

  19. For that annoying bald dude at the end taking shit St. Louis has been better in sports in the last 100 years compared in Chicago for the amount of teams STL has, the Cardinals have won 11 World Series when it took more than 100 years for the Cubs to win a World Series and they have 3 but those first 2 were won in the stone age and the White Sox have a similar history 2 World Series were won in the stone age and it took them 80 years to win another one, combined for the 2 teams Chicago has they got 6 World Series, they are 1 for 1 in Super Bowl victories and St. Louis doesn't even have an NFL team anymore the Rams were there for 20 years and the Bears one have 1 for those 100 years of being there, the Bulls have 6 NBA Championships while St. Louis never had an NBA team other than a defunct ABA team, the Blues have 1 Stanley Cup victory while the Blackhawks have 6. Total St. Louis has 13 titles and Chicago has 19 but St. Louis has 2 teams 1 left and Chicago has 5. And 4 of those Chicago titles were won when people still played w sticks and rocks. 😂

  20. The murder rate stat is terrible and misquoted all the time. It has the highest murder rate per capita only because when people who live in the suburbs kill people they tend to do it in the city and they are a lot less people who live in the city. The people who commit murders in saint Louis don’t live in the city. If you take the murder rate per capita of the metropolitan area it’s much Much lower.

  21. St.Louis' murder rate is grossly inflated do to the fact that the city itself is separated from the county jurisdictionally. So when calculating the murders percapita theres much less people considered in the whole than probably should be.

  22. The one thing we in St Louis have that Chicago never will…we don't have to live in Illinois, one of the most corrupt states in the country…and broke on top of it all. Chew on that one hahahahahaha.

  23. You should also include Cincinnati if you really want to compare the former top Midwestern cities. The 3 were neck and neck in the 1870s. There also were plans to make Cincinnati the capital as well. It was the largest city in the midwest from about 1800-1870 – also like St Louis it lost its top Midwest city spot by not embracing the railroad quickly enough.

  24. I don't care what they say, the Sears Tower is still the tallest building in the US. That "spire" on WTC is a chump move.

  25. So St. Louis lost the chance to be a world-class city because the decision makers had no vision and passed on the railroad system in favor of sticking with the old, slower river boats? Nice!
    This town will never grow and become a progressive city because it's stuck in the past! It prides itself on it.

  26. St. Louis has some of the worst crime found in the entire world. It was ranked the city with the 13th highest crime rate globally.

  27. Wait how long did it take for the cubs to win a world series? When was the last time the bulls made it to the nba finals? Who was the last Stanley cup winner 🤔 the cardinals has more championships than both their baseball teams combined 😂 they might have more sports teams but who gonna pay to watch them lose all the time

  28. I live here in St. Louis and I love it the way it is. Plus our pizza is WAY BETTER imos is fucking amazing so suck it

  29. St.Louis also lost out on Disney World because of Anheuser-Busch. They wanted beer served there and Disney didn't. Steamboat Willy was born on the Mississippi.

  30. It is not correct to claim that Chicago embraced the railroad in the 1870s while St. Louis did not. It is more complicated than that and Eads Bridge is a testament to what St. Louis was attempting. The Rock Island Bridge and the collapse of the Gasconade Bridge along with Chicago’s lines being funded by New York interests along the Erie Canal were bigger contributing factors than the St. Louis commitment to river traffic.

  31. I really like both Chicago and St. Louis – now if Charles Dickens were alive today he'd profile these in A Tale Of Two Cities as his Pulitzer Prize winning novel.

  32. The first skyscraper was actually built in St. Louis. It’s called the Wainwright Building. Also I can guarantee that St. Louis is a more Catholic city. Idk about a more religious city but we gang up for the Catholic Church.

  33. The lakefront of Chicago, from the Field Museum to Wrigley was designed by the robber barons of the last century with a goal to create the most walkable, beautiful city in the world. They wanted the poor as well as the rich to enjoy the city. You can walk, bike, electric scooter, skateboard anywhere , with the beautiful lake next to you. Trees, parks, Golf courses, Archery range, beaches full of people partying, 8 sailboat marinas. Most people don't know how much Chicago is a beach and sailing town with very active sailling community. Hundreds of small , single family owned restaurants (not your stupid sprawly chains) everywhere.  Comedy clubs, Music venues, small local bars where the bartender knows your name. People that live on the lakefront (like myself) know that they live somewhere really special! The rest of the city is kind of a big sprawly mess but the lakefront is awesome!!!! (and unlike St Louis, it is relatively safe after dark-i would never walk around st louis after dark, ever!)If you were to build a city from scratch, you could do worse to just copy the lakefront of Chicago. Because it is perfect! My favorite thing about St Louis is the people. Very nice, fun, friendly midwesterners. Pretty girls and fun people.

  34. I live in kansas city and honestly, its better than both stl and chicago, but since im from missouri, im for stl!

  35. 260? Maybe if you fly in a straight line, but from downtown St Louis to downtown Chicago, you're going over 300 miles. I'm in the Metro East, and getting to Bridgeview, Illinois takes over 280 miles!

  36. I went to Chicago for a concert, and for me personally, the people here were really rude and didn't want to be bothered with us. Maybe this isn't the case for everyone, but Chicago gave me a bad impression. Also, we(St. Louis) are now getting a Ferris wheel that is going to be bigger than Navy Pier, and a new aquarium. Just sayin…

  37. If I want to breath dirty air, be in traffic for an hour, or get shot I’ll go to Chicago. I’ll stick around in STL drinking a Budweiser, watching the cards in the playoffs this year, oh and that Stanley cup.

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