The city of St. Louis offers an extraordinary variety of housing styles and urban communities. There are 79 individual neighborhoods within the city limits. Some of St. Louis' best-known city neighborhoods include the Central West End, Tower Grove, St. Louis Hills, Dogtown, Soulard, and The Hill.
Founded in 1764 by Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau the City of St. Louis became a major port on the Mississippi River after the Louisiana Purchase. Its population expanded after the American Civil War, and in the late 19 th century it became the fourth-largest city in the United States. In 1876, the City of St. Louis seceded from St. Louis County allowing it to become an independent city and limiting its political boundaries. The city's population peaked in 1950 at nearly 850,000 residents. Today, the City of St. Louis is home to approximately 320,000 residents. Although the recent economy has slowed revitalization and new developments downtown, there are many exciting new venues and districts to enjoy. Ballpark Village is one of the newer dining and entertainment districts anchored to Busch Stadium - home to the St Louis Cardinals baseball team. The Gateway Arch Park Foundation has completed renovations and transition to a conservancy park complete with museums, park grounds, bike trails, play areas, and a lively riverfront. The City Museum offers a one of a kind experience in this unique phantasmagorical play house, created by the visionary Bob Cassilly, derived from repurposed architectural and industrial objects, where visitors are encouraged to touch, climb, and explore. The Shaw Botanical Garden enjoys international acclaim, as does St Louis' Forest Park - home to the St Louis Zoo, Muny Opera House, St Louis Art Museum, Boat House, Planetarium, History Museum, and Jewel Box.