Abstract: St. Louis and the Automobile

Thomas H. Eyssell


During the first three decades of the twentieth century, St. Louis was home to numerous automobile manufacturers. As recently as the mid-1960s, St. Louis would be recognized as an important auto manufacturing center, second only to Detroit. Today, little remains of St. Louis' automotive past—the result of global and national trends and a regional shift in emphasis from manufacturing to life-sciences and other high-tech industries. In some ways, St. Louis' role in the development of the automobile industry was preordained—its position as a manufacturing center grew from its desirable geographical location and the existence of well-developed transportation facilities. As the fourth-largest city in the country, St. Louis boasted a large labor pool. The region was a wagon- and carriage-building center, which led naturally to the manufacture of automobiles. And, the city was home to an inordinate number of individuals determined to make their marks in the then-new auto industry. The story of these automobile pioneers, and that of St. Louis' role in the development of the automobile, deserves to be told.