St. Louis enjoyed its highest population during the 1950s, when it was home to 857,000 people and ranked 8th in the country. The city was still the largest in Missouri in 1980, but Kansas City has since dwarfed it. St. Louis has now fallen to its lowest population in more than 100 years, despite signs that the negative growth had been reversed.
St Louis Diversity
The African American population of St. Louis is heavily concentrated in the northern area of the city, with the area north of Delmar being 94% black compared to 26% in the south side. The largest Asian ethnic groups include Vietnamese (0.9%), Chinese (0.6%) and Asian Indians (0.5%), with the Vietnamese community concentrated in the Dutchtown neighborhood and the Chinese community in the Central West End.
The largest Latino group comes from Mexico and accounts for 2.2% of the total population of the city. The Mexican community is concentrated most heavily in the Dutchtown, Gravois Park and Benton Park West neighborhoods.
It's estimated that St. Louis is home to about 70,000 Bosnians, which is the largest population outside of Bosnia. St. Louis is also home to the only Bosnian-language newspaper in the country.
St Louis Population Growth
The population growth of St. Louis has fallen flat and even gone negative over the last few years. From 2012 to 2013, the city's population grew just 0.2%, but the metropolitan area lost about 100,000 residents. As of 2017, the area has lost about 3.4% of the population. It won't be surprising if the population even drops below 300,000 by the next census in 2020.
St Louis Population History
The area that eventually became St. Louis was a center for Native American Mississippian culture and home to several earthwork mounds, hence the city's early nickname, the Mound City. European exploration was first documented in 1673, and the area was claimed for France 5 years later by La Salle as part of New France.
The earliest European settlements were built in the 1690s through the early 1700s, and migrants from French villages became moving to the area. When France lost to the British in North America in 1764, St. Louis was founded based on a fur trade economy.
St. Louis was transferred to the Republic of France in 1800 before being sold to the US three years later in the Lousiana Purchase. Steamboats began arriving in the city in 1818, which improved its connection with other markets. Missouri was admitted to the Union in 1821, at which time slavery was legal here, and St. Louis was incorporated a year later.
The population of St. Louis grew fairly quickly from the 1840s through the 1860s when immigrants from Germany and Ireland began arriving in large numbers. By 1850, the city was more populous than New Orleans.
St. Louis was a slowly growing city until the Civil War when immigration and industrialization sparked a significant population boom. The city continued growing rapidly until it reached a peak of 856,000 in 1950, at which point it was 82% White and 17.9% African American.
After World War II ended, the city began losing people to the suburbs thanks to increasing demands for housing and easier commutes and then white flight. St. Louis has now lost over 63% of its population since 1950, which is the highest percentage of any major US city.