Look Up, Jefferson City! A Walking Tour of Jefferson City, Missouri
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of Jefferson City, Missouri is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions. More
There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour is ready to explore when you are.
Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
One of the first orders of business for the first Missouri general assembly that convened in St. Louis in 1820 was to find a centrally located site for the state capital. A commission of five was sent out with a mandate to select a site on the Missouri River "within 40 miles of the mouth of the Osage." There was only one place within that sweep of land that remotely resembled a village, Cote Sans Dessein at the confluence of the two rivers. It was assumed that Missouri's new capital city would alight there. It was so obvious, however, that speculators drove land prices out of sight.
The commissioners kept traveling upstream and found a bluff on the south side of the Missouri River where it was dictated would grow a capital city. The city was platted in 1822 and preparations made to accommodate the government's arrival in 1826. But settlement was slow - it seems like not too many people were buying the idea of this Jefferson City as the capital city of Missouri. Other towns were making ominous noises about snatching the capital to their more developed embraces.
To help stem the discontent and give the town a sense of permanence, Governor John Miller got a state penitentiary built four blocks from the makeshift capitol building in the 1830s. Then the capitol burned in 1837. If there was ever a time for the government to vamoose from Jefferson City, this was it. But $175,000 was appropriated to build a new capitol building and in 1839, with 1,174 inhabitants, including 262 slaves, Jefferson City was incorporated.
Government was the main industry but there was a vibrant river trade that peaked when the first trains arrived to great fanfare in 1855. Printing was an important industry and after the 1880s Jefferson City became known for making shoes. By 1900 the population was approaching 10,000 but there were still towns picking at the legitimacy of the state capital. In 1896 an amendment was put to popular vote to move the government to Sedalia. It was defeated.
And so the little city that was chosen for the Missouri state capital so long ago that namesake Thomas Jefferson was still alive remains the seat of state government. And our walking tour of the 190-year old capital will begin in front of one of the capitol building tabbed by USA Today in 2008 as having the "most beautiful interior of any of the 50 state capitols"...