East St. Louis, commonly abbreviated as "ESL", is a city in Southern Illinois directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. It is a sprawling city with about 18,000 people, down from about 82,000 in the 1950s.
While it attracts a few visitors who come mainly for gambling, East St. Louis is definitely not your typical travel destination. In 2013, it was considered to be the most dangerous city in the contiguous United States, based on violent crime statistics. A visit to ESL could be considered a way of getting a first-hand glimpse of the challenges that poverty-stricken U.S. urban areas face today.
Four major interstates lead into East St. Louis. They are Interstate 70, Interstate 55, Interstate 255, and Interstate 64. Interstate 64 takes the most direct route into the city center. U.S. Route 40 connects East St. Louis to St. Louis, Missouri and runs through East St. Louis. U.S. Route 50 runs through ESL as well. Illinois Routes 3, 15, and 111 also enter and leave East St. Louis. The city is very accessible by road through many different routes.
The Metrolink train travels into East St. Louis on the blue and red lines. The Red Line begins at Lambert Airport in St. Louis, Missouri, and ends in Shiloh, Illinois. The Blue Line begins in Shrewsbury, MO and ends in Fairview Heights, Illinois. Both of these lines run through downtown St. Louis and both stop at the same East St. Louis stations- which are named East Riverfront, 5th and Missouri, Emerson Park, Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, and Washington Park. For more information, fares, and schedules visit the Metrolink page.
The Amtrak Train does not directly station in East St. Louis, but makes many stops nearby. The closest stop is in St. Louis, Missouri, at the 16th Street stop, approximately 5 miles (8 km) away. Other stops are the Kirkwood Amtrak Station (about 18 mi (29 km) away) and Alton Amtrak Station (about 30 mi (48 km) away). Taxi cabs are available at the station.
The Saint Louis Regional Airport (ALN IATA) in St. Louis, Missouri, is around 25 mi (40 km) from East St. Louis. A smaller airport is located in Mascoutah, Illinois, called Mid-America Airport[dead link] (BLV IATA), about 22 miles away. Public-use airports closest to East St. Louis include: St. Louis Downtown Airport (CPS IATA), Sackman Field Airport, and St. Louis Metro East Airport.
Taxis are available at all airports.
The Metro St. Louis website contains information about public transport in ESL as well as in St. Louis. ESL is a sprawling town, and the risk of sore feet is just one of the reasons why you shouldn't explore it on foot without a plan (see the Stay Safe section).
- Katherine Dunham Museum, ☏ , email@example.com. As one of the most famous residents of ESL, the Katherine Dunham Museum is centered on the life of this famous dancer. The museum is home to many of her personal items collected from all over the world. Some of these items include African Diaspora, African artifacts, dance costumes, pictures, drawings, paintings, and Dunham's personal awards and accomplishments. Hours are on an appointment basis: contact Leverne Backstrom for details.
- 1 Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, 185 W Trendley Ave.
- 2 Gateway Geyser. Apr-Oct: noon-12:15PM, 1PM-1:15PM. Near the Casino Queen on the Mississippi River is the Gateway Geyser. The fountain mimics the St. Louis Arch directly opposite, both reaching a height around 630 feet (190 m). The Gateway Geyser is the world's second tallest fountain after the King Fahd's Fountain in Saudi Arabia.
- Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center. Opened in 2000 by a 6-time Olympic medalist in track, Jackie Joyner-Kersee began this project to help her hometown and encourage participation in sports.
- 1 The Casino Queen, 200 S Front St (located on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River in East St. Louis). Daily 8AM-6AM. The Casino Queen is known for its "loose slots" and is a major attraction for this area. It features an array of games, a hotel, 4 restaurants, The Stage Bar, and a RV park.
Eat & drink
East St. Louis has many of the typical fast-food restaurants, but for more upscale sit-down restaurants you're going to find a lot more if you cross the bridge to St. Louis.
- 1 Tienda El Ranchito, 2565 N 32nd St, ☏ . Mexican food.
- Tasty Burgers, 2700 State Street, ☏ . Burgers, wings and fish.
- 1 Draftkings at Casino Queen, 200 South Front St, ☏ , toll-free: . Hotel at the Casino Queen, steps from the casino floor. 4
While there are many friendly citizens anxious to preserve the community in East St. Louis, on the whole this is a very unsafe and dangerous area with high crime and drug rates. Visitors should avoid walking the streets at night. Make sure you are familiar with the area before arriving in East St. Louis, although there are areas that are secure. Do obtain clear and precise directions before driving around ESL, or use the security and reliability of mass transportation. The East St. Louis Park District and Illinois Southwest Tourism Bureau can assist with any questions.
- St. Louis, of course.
- Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in nearby Collinsville was the center of the largest prehistoric Native American city in the U.S. and one of only 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites in the nation.
|Routes through East St. Louis|
|Springfield ← Fairmont City ←||N S||→ St. Louis → Memphis|
|O'Fallon, MO ← St. Louis ←||W E||→ O'Fallon, IL → Louisville|
|Columbia ← St. Louis ←||W E||→ Fairmont City → Indianapolis|
|Alton ← Granite City ←||N S||→ Cahokia → Cairo|
|END ←||W E||→ Belleville → Mount Vernon|