All about East St. Louis, Illinois
Trivia, Useful Information & Facts
Elevation: 417 ft (127 m). Population 27,006 (2010).
Time zone: Central (CST): UTC minus -6 hours. Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5).
East St. Louis is St. Clair County, Illinois, across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Missouri, (Map of East St. Louis).
History of East St. Louis
Humans have lived in Illinois since the retreat of the glaciers at the end of th last Ice Age some 12,000 years ago.
There were up to 50 "Indian Mounds" in the area most lost to development and roadbuilding. They were ceremonial and burial sites of the local "Mississippian culture" which flourished from 900 to 1500 A.D., their capital was located at Cahokia Mounds (near Collinsville). They were farmers and hunter-gatherers. Famine due to drought led to their demise.
During the 1600s Illiniwek natives (Peroria, Kaskaskia, Kkahokia and more) moved here escaping war with the Iroquois.
First mentioned by French Jesuits in 1656 who heard about the "Illinois" natives from a party of Algonquins. Father Marquette reached the area in 1673, settling in Kaskaskia and Cahokia. At that time it was a French posession.
France ceded it to Britain in 1763 and it became part of the US after its independence in 1776. St. Clair County was created in 1790 and was the first county established in what is today Illinois. It predates the state.
Arthur St. Clair the governor of the Northwest Territory named it after himself. In 1801 it passed to the Indiana Territory, and back to Illinois when the territory was created in 1809.
Illinois became a state in 1818. What is now East St. Louis was founded in 1797 by Captain James Piggott, a Revolutionary War veteran as "Illinoistown".
The Name:East St. Louis
The municipality was established in 1861 and the residents voted on a new name for the town: East St. Louis, after the large city on the western bank of the Mississippi River.
The bustling industrial city was hit by loss of jobs in the 1960s and its population which had peaked in 1950 at 82,336 plumetted to one third of its former level.
East St. Louis, its Hotels and Motels
Lodging & accommodation in East St. Louis
> > Book your hotel in East St. Louis
More Accommodation near East St. Louis on Route 66
See some more hotels & motels nearby
Hotels to the West in Missouri
- 3 mi. St. Louis
- 18 mi. Hotels in Sunset Hills
- 23 mi. Hotels in Fenton
- 20 mi. Kirkwood
- 30 mi. Eureka
- 38 mi. Pacific
- 56 mi. Saint Clair
- 71 mi. Sullivan
- 90 mi. Cuba
- 103 mi. Saint James
- 113 mi. Rolla
- 141 mi. St. Robert
- 142 mi. Waynesville
- 176 mi. Lebanon
- 216 mi. Marshfield
- 218 mi. Strafford
- 228 mi. Springfield MO
- 289 mi. Carthage
- 307 mi. Joplin
Just North on old Bypass US 66
Hotels to the East, Illinois
Book your hotel in East St. Louis
>> Check out the RV campground in neighboring Granite City
East St. Louis's weather
Rainfall is, on average 41 in. (1.041 mm). The most rainy months are from May through July with more than 4.1 in per month (104 mm). Snow falls from Nov. to Apr.: 17.8 in. (45 cm). Relative humitiy is on average 69.7% roughl the whole year.
The town has four well marked seasons. It is located in the area where humid continental climate shifts towards a humid subtropical climate, so summers are hot and humid while winters are cold. It gets cold Arctic air and hot damp tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico. Spring is wet and may have extreme weather (tornados, thunderstorms and even winter storms). Fall is sunny and less humid, with mild weather.
The average winter high (Jan) is a chilly 39.9°F (4.4°C) and the winter low is on average 23.7°F (-4.6°C). The summer (Jul) average high is 89.1°F (31.7°C) and the average low is 71°F (21.7°C).
East St. Louis is in an area that is hit by about seven tornados per year.
The Great Cyclone of 1896
A tornado struck both St. Louis and East St. Louis on May 27, 1896 it was the deadliest event in the area, killing a total of 255 people in 20 minutes.
Tornado Risk: learn more about the Tornado Risk on US 66.
Map of Route 66 through East St. Louis, Illinois
See the alignment of US 66 in East St. Louis, on our Illinois Route 66 Map, it has the complete alignment across the state with all the towns along it.
This is the color key for East St. Louis:
Pale Blue: Historic Route 66 in town.
Gaps mark where I-55 overlaps the original roadbed.
Blue, Green, Gray, Pink, Yellow, Violet show different alignments of Route 66
Brown is the BYP US-66.
Orange: the 1926-32 aligment in St. Louis.
Black: lost segments.
Route 66 in Illinois: Historic Route 66 in East St. Louis
Route 66 across Illinois
Historic Route 66 has been designated as an All-American Road and a National Scenic Byway in the state of Illinois.
Click for a description of Route 66 in Illinois.
Below we provide More information on US 66 in East St. Louis.
East St. Louis: its classic Route 66 Sights
Attractions & Landmarks
Reaching East St. Louis
Get to East St. Louis driving along Historic U.S. 66 or take any of the freeways that lead to St. Louis: I-55, I-64, I-70, and US 40.
East St. Louis is a very unsafe and dangerous area. Avoid visiting this area unless absolutely necessary.
Drug abuse and crime rates are high. Keep off the streets at night. Know exactly where you are going. Don't get lost or end up in a bad neighborhood.
NeighborhoodScout released rankings in 2016 that reveal that East St. Louis had the highest murder rate of any city in the US.
Having said this, and considering that most of the historic Route 66 buildings in the city have gone we suggest (at your discretion and caution) to avoid the alignment along 10th Avenue.
On N 9th Street there is an Old Gas Station:
Former Gas Station
1327 N 9th St.
To your left (north side of the higway) is an old gas station now tire shop.
Former Gas Station in East St. Louis, Illinois
Turn around and head back till St. Clair Ave, turn right and then left along Collinsville Ave. The city looks as if it had been bombed, empty plots of land and solitary red brick buildings, most of them boarded up.
At Martin Luther King Ave. take a left and on the block following the railroad grade crossing, to your left is a Gull Wing gas station:
Gull Wing station
601 Martin Luther King Dr. & N 6th St.
This is a former Phillips 66 gas station from the 1960s. At that time, Phillips Petroleum Co. standardized their filling stations across the US, adopting a modern design.
This consisted of a triangular "gull-wing" canopy which was supported at its narrow tip by a pole designed to look like an oil derrick. The pole was capped with a Phillips 66 revolving sign.
Gull Wing station in East St. Louis, Illinois
There are two of them in East St. Louis (see below), and many on Route 66:
Retrace your steps to Collinsville Ave. turn right and, one block east, closer to downtown, to your left is a Historic Movie Theater:
Historic Majestic Theater
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places
240 Collinsville Ave
The historic Majestic Theatre is a movie theater built in 1928 in Spanish Gothic style. The facade s tiled with patterns. It was the first in town to have air conditioning but it closed in the 1960s. It is in need of repair, but stood over Route 66 for decades.
Historic Majestic Theater in East St. Louis, Illinois
Don't miss the Ghost Sign on the next building (Street View). A ghost sign is an old hand-painted advertising sign that has survived the ravages of time.
At Broadway turn left and three blocks south is Another Gull Wing gas station and a Former Motel:
East St. Louis Holiday Inn
657 E. Broadway
The motel, now in ruins, was built in the late 1960s. Its amenities included a swimming pool and restaurant with cocktail lounge. Its "Now and Then" photos are shown below:
East St. Louis Holiday Inn, East St. Louis, Il. Credits
Just cross the road on the SW corner of E Broadway and 6th St. is yet another Gull wing gas station:
Another Gull Wing station
E. Broadway and 6th St.
This Phillips 66 Gull wing is claad in stone, which gives it a curious appearance:
Another Gull Wing station in East St. Louis, Illinois
Visit the final sight in town, just barely 1.4 miles away (this is the Map with directions:
Malcom W. Martin Memorial Park
185 W. Trendley Ave., East St. Louis
Opem 7AM to 10PM, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
April through September: Daily eruptions at noon, 6PM, and 9PM (each 10-minutes). It hibernates November through March.
It is the tallest water fountain in the US and second tallest in the world with a rise of 630 feet (192 m) which matches the height of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. It opened in 1995 as a landmark on Illinois' riverfront that complements the Gateway Arch in Missouri (you can see it across the Mississippi River).
It blasts 7,500 gallons of watrer per minute (28,125 l).
The Mississippi River Overlook
Is 40 ft. tall (12 m) and is located at the western end of the park. It gives you a great view of the Mississippi River, St. Louis, its skyline and the Gateway Arch.
Gateway Geyser in East St. Louis, Illinois
This ends your journey along US 66 in East St. Louis, head west into St. Louis, Missouri.
East St. Louis: alignment of Historic Route 66
The "City 66" in E. St. Louis
Route 66 in East St. Louis
In Black are segments that are now cut and cannot be driven.
Both City & Main headInto East St. Louis
Here both alignemtns went west along Collinsville Rd., (there was no I-64 in those days) into East Saint Louis, and at St. Clair Ave. went southwest along 10th Ave. (now a new railroad cuts the old alignment here - Black).
Viaduct and Municipal Bridge
The Road kept on straight and now ends at a dead end on Baker Ave., but in those days it continued west, across the railroad yards on a steel viaduct pictured below and then crossed the Mississippi into St. Louis, Missouri alongside the railway on the "Municipal Bridge" whose elevated viduct ended at S 7th St. (these viaducts and bridge are now cut off and are shown in Black in the Map above).
Main US 66 - 1954
Shown in Violet, it split from the "City 6" at St. Clair Ave. where it turned right and then left as a 4-lane highway which then split into two to allow traffic to cross the Mississippi River using two bridges: Veterans Memorial Bridge to the north and Eads Bridge to the south; both were toll bridges. Present I-55 has cut off one of those access routes (Black in the map).
Veterans or MLK Bridge
Built in 1957 and restored in 1987 it now has two eastbound lanes and one westbound lane. The steel bridge is a Cantilevered Subdivided Warren Through Truss with a 2-span Warren Deck Truss approach. It is open so you can drive across it.
1954 USGS map with US66 in East St. Louis, Illinois
> > See the previous segment Through Fairmont (east)
> > See the next segment Route 66 in St. Louis (west)
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Banner image: Dead Man's Curve, Laguna New Mexico by Perla Eichenblat.