History | St. Louis Public Radio

History

Neal Bascomb is the author of "The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War"
Caitlin Lally | St. Louis Public Radio

When considering the pivotal moments of World War I, the Great Escape of 1918 is likely not the first incident that comes to mind. Indeed, the history of this truly remarkable episode has largely gone unnoticed in the 100 years since it transpired.

Neal Bascomb’s latest book “The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War” attempts to shed light on this central event in world history. Bascomb joined host Don Marsh for a conversation about the new book on this Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air.

Andrew Hurley is the historian for the five-year project “The Missouri Transect: Climate, Plants and the Community.”
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The Great Flood of ’93 took a severe toll on St. Louis as an unprecedented weather phenomenon. But St. Louis is no stranger to floods, tornadoes, heat waves, ice storms and more.

Amid dealing with the effects of these events, St. Louisans should be aware that climate change has the potential to increase the frequency of them as well.

SLU students conduct archeological dig on campus before new center for science and engineering is built.
Brent Jones | St. Louis Public Radio

In a race against the bulldozers and cranes, a Saint Louis University history professor and a handful of students are conducting an archeological dig in the middle of campus.

It’s unlikely they will be able to excavate deep or wide enough to find evidence of an early Civil War encampment that once occupied the site, but Tom Finan, assistant professor of history and archeologist, doesn’t like to give up hope.  

“I can’t help but think with 800 men living here for a month and using the Mill Creek that ran through here, that something wouldn’t be left behind,” he said.

Host Don Marsh (left) and author Jon Meacham talked about Meacham's latest book, "Soul of America" at the St. Louis Public Library on May 25.
Kara Smith/St. Louis County Library

“American history is defined by the phrase ‘and yet …,’” author and historian Jon Meacham told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh May 25, before an audience of 900 people at the St. Louis County Library.

“We promised equality to all, and yet, we didn’t extend it to all,” Meacham said, citing other examples of former presidential actions that they later contradicted. His latest book, “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels,” compares and contrasts today’s political climate to historical events.

Kelsey Thomas started the #314DayAccentChallenge to celebrate and highlight the St. Louis accent. 2018.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Kelsey Thomas celebrates 314 Day the way many St. Louisans do: she puts on a Cardinals shirt and orders some Imo’s Pizza. If she’s feeling nostalgic, she’ll tune in to Hot 104.1.

But a few years ago, she started a new tradition for March 14. To show off her city’s accent, she curated a list of words that end with an “R” sound — chair, hair, millionaire — and posted them on Twitter with the hashtag #314DayAccentChallenge. The words highlight a unique feature of a local accent that has been celebrated by St. Louis rappers and studied by linguists.

Washington University history professor Peter Kastor uses the musical "Hamilton" as a jumping-off point to teach about the Founding Fathers.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s no secret that there’s a renewed interest in the role Alexander Hamilton played in founding the United States.

Portrayed in the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” the nation’s first treasury secretary and many of the Founding Fathers are brought to life by the show’s creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda.

In advance of the musical’s sold-out run in April at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh talked with Peter Kastor, history professor at Washington University, about the historical accuracy of “Hamilton.”

Astronomers Studying an Eclipse painted by Antoine Caron in 1571
Wikimedia Commons

The furor over the coming solar eclipse is reaching a fever pitch, causing us to ask: has it always been this way? On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed the ways eclipses have been viewed in the past.

From Babylonians’ scientific tracking of eclipses to frequent myth and lore about the relationship between solar eclipses and animal feeding habits, we discussed how old views of solar eclipses impact our viewing of them today.

Forest Park turns 140 years old this year.
henskechristine | Flickr

Whether you’re new to St. Louis or you’ve been here a long time, you’ve probably heard the factoid that Forest Park is bigger than New York’s Central Park by nearly 500 acres, clocking in at a total of 1,293 acres. It’s one of the many things we love about the park.

But how did the park come to be and how has it changed over time to become what it is today?

An example of an image found in "Capturing the City," which features workers at the intersection of Grand and Olive circa 1907.
Capturing the City

This segment was originally produced on November 26, 2016 and re-aired on August 8, 2017.

Charles Clement Holt was many things: an engineer, a draftsman, a surveyor for the St. Louis Streets Department. He became so good at the latter that he eventually became head of the Streets Department.

Donna Rogers-Beard, Emma Riley and Rev. Doris Graham joined St. Louis on the Air to discuss the history Clayton's historical, displaced African-American neighborhood.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Picture the affluent St. Louis suburb of Clayton. Great schools. Flourishing businesses. A lively restaurant scene.

But how Clayton came to be synonymous with such commercial affluence is entwined with a little-known part of the suburb’s history.

From the 1800s to the 1950s, Clayton was home to a flourishing African-American community. The area’s black residents were pushed out of the area through rigorous “urban renewal” zoning policy to make room construction of the vaunted commercial center of the suburb. The black community in Clayton all but disappeared.

Detail of Katherine Dunham in Choros, undated
Missouri History Museum | Provided

If you took but one class with dance legend Katherine Dunham, it became immediately apparent that her approach was one that cultivated the dancer as a whole and made the Dunham Technique more of a “way of life.” Dunham, considered the “queen mother of black dance,” lived from 1909 to 2006, making her home and the center of her dance work in East St. Louis for much of her adult life. 

Marcia and Tim Dorsey's fully rehabbed 1850s stone house in Carondelet. Marcia lived in this house when she was a girl, but after it left her family's hands, the home fell into disrepair. In 2014, the Dorseys began the process of rehabilitating it.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Just east of Broadway in the Patch neighborhood of Carondelet stands a small, rough-cut stone house. The structure, over 160 years old, is set to receive a 'Most Enhanced' building award from the Landmarks Association of St. Louis this Thursday evening.

Maureen Kavanaugh recently released an updated version of Elizabeth McNulty’s popular book “St. Louis Then and Now,” which pairs archive and contemporary photographs that tell the story of St. Louis through its landmarks.

On Tuesday, Kavanaugh joined St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh to discuss the updated book.

“Some of it is exactly the same,” Kavanaugh said of the book.

In most circumstances, the ‘then’ and ‘now’ photos are taken from the same angle, though Kavanaugh said that wasn’t possible in every instance because of new construction.

A mob stops a street car during the East St. Louis race riots, which started on July 2, 1917.
University of Massachusetts-Amherst Libraries

The East St. Louis race riots have gone down in history as some of the worst examples of race relations in the St. Louis region. This Sunday, May 28, is the 100-year anniversary of the first, smaller riot. July 2 is the 100-year anniversary of one of the bloodiest race riots in the 1900s.

Related: St. Louis History in Black and White: East St. Louis Race Riot

Today marks the 274th anniversary of the birth of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson.
Rembrandt Peele | Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, April 13, 2017 marked the 274th anniversary of the birth of American founding father Thomas Jefferson.

On St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh looked back on the complicated legacy of the United States' third president and explored the impact of his presidency regionally with Washington University professor Peter Kastor.

Lincoln School, the county's first public school for African Americansthe county's first public school for African Americans, prior to the construction of its new building in 1911 is one of many photos archived in Madison Historical.
Provided | Madison Historical and the Madison County Historical Society

Madison County has a new online archive that documents local history through century-old photographs, articles and recorded interviews.

The Madison Historical website produced by Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville invites exploration of the Metro East county’s history, sorting content by era (19th, 20th, or 21st century), theme (industry, education, government) and community.

Rebecca Copeland, Rob Maesaka and Suzanne Sakahara discussed the history and legacy of Japanese internment, almost 75 years after the executive order that paved the way for it was signed.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Retired Lindenwood University professor Suzanne Sakahara was just six years old when she witnessed two FBI agents enter her house on Vashon Island, Washington, in 1942. They searched the house from top to bottom, looking for hunting rifles and radios for confiscation.

“They even looked in the kitchen at the length of our knives,” Sakahara said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “If you had too long of a knife, they confiscated it.”

Dick Henmi is a noted St. Louis architect, best known for the so-called "flying saucer" building on Grand, but his journey to St. Louis started during a dark period of American history.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

If you don’t know Richard (Dick) Henmi by name, you definitely know one of his most iconic contributions to St. Louis’ architectural assembly: the so-called "flying saucer" building in Council Plaza off of Grand Boulevard. Henmi designed that building in 1967.

AA Roads

If you’ve ever wondered where in the world the “natural bridge” in Natural Bridge Road comes from, you’re not alone. The answer is tied to Missouri's abundance of caves and the underground world of St. Louis.

It’s a question Joe Light, vice president of the Meramec Valley Grotto and member of the Missouri Speleological Survey, gets asked all the time. Several Curious Louis questioners have wondered the same thing.

A traveling museum in St. Louis highlights the achievements of black inventors. From left, across: Granville T. Woods, Lonnie Johnson, Sarah Boone, George Washington Carver, Bessie Blount, Elijah McCoy, Madam CJ Walker, Marjorie Joyner, Philip Emeagwali.
Wikimedia Commons

In 1996, Loretta Ford founded the Museum of Black Inventors with the idea of highlighting the achievements of often unsung African Americans who contributed greatly to the fields of science, household goods, engineering and technology.

Housed for a while in the Central West End, the organization eventually outgrew its location and in 1998 the museum reemerged as a traveling museum and now visits schools, workplaces, and community organizations across the Midwest.

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