The City of St. Louis was located in St. Louis County until 1876.Â St. Louis, not Clayton, was the county seat.Â That year the city became its own City-County, or “independent city.”
Prior to 1877, St. Louis County encompassed the City of St. Louis plus all other areas within the county boundaries including such towns as Kirkwood and Florissant. During that time, the county seat was the City of St. Louis. Often called the “Great Divorce,” the split occurred after the citizens of St.Â Louis County (that included both city and county) voted on the question of whether the City of St.Â Louis should separate from the county and become an independent city.
The vote took place 22 Aug 1876, and the initial count indicated that the separation question had failed by just over 100 votes. Supporters of separation then brought charges, including fraud, and a recount was ordered. The recount took four months so it was late 1876 before it was determined that the vote for separation had passed.Â (Source)
There have been numerous attempts since 1876 to reverse this vote.Â All have failed.Â This “independent city”Â arrangement is part of the Missouri constitution so any change becomes a statewide issue.
Today you will still hear people say we need to “merge” the city & county.Â OK, what does that mean?
The landscape is very different today than it was in the late 19th Century.Â Does merge mean expand the county boundaries to include the city — making the City of St. Louis a city among the 90+ other municipalities in St. Louis County?Â Would Clayton remain the county seat?Â That is more rejoin than merge in my view.
Merge would be a bigger task of creating a consolidated government — eliminating most or all of the 90+ municipalities and having one big city-county governement.Â If we went this route I think all would agree the resulting entity would be named St. Louis.Â But where would the government body be located?Â Like other regions that have actually done this, existing buildings throughout the region would be incorporated into the new government structure.
I don’t think for a moment either one will ever happen but it is interesting to ponder.Â I’m not neccesarily an advocate of changing the city-county relationship.Â I am interested in consolidating the 90+ cuonty municipalities down to less than 10.Â Same for school districts, fire districts and such. The St. Louis region
This week’s poll tackles this subject.Â So take the poll on the upper right of the main pageand add your thoughts below on how you’d like to see our local governments restructured or perhaps left as is.