Master of Arts
Date of Defense
It is commonly accepted that Antebellum St. Louis was reborn in the wake of fire and disease. A boom in cultural activities during the 1850s has allowed the Great Fire of 1849 to serve as a historical landmark separating an older fur trading town from a new cosmopolitan city. This study examines that transformation hypothesis from a broader frame of reference and concludes that the Great Fire merely coincided with the end of a temporary lull in cultural activities that had begun much earlier in the 1830s. By following the ebb and flow of museums, panoramic paintings, and public lectures across the 1830s, 40s, and 50s, I have identified a brief gap in the 1840s that can account for the apparent transformation of St. Louis after 1849 and help to clarify why and how it blossomed as a cosmopolitan city.
Dierkes, Daron Patrick, "Transformation or Revival: St. Louis Culture Before and After the Great Fire of 1849" (2014). Theses. 180.