olorful banners line the main thoroughfares of Granite City and proudly proclaim its Centennial - a century of "Progress through Heritage."
The city's heritage is marked by the 17 flags, from as many European nations, which fly in a memorial park in the heart of downtown. The flags celebrate the origins of the people of Granite City.
A city born of rock and steel, Granite City grew up a mill town, drawing its expanding population from among the flood of Central European immigrants who came to this new land in search of freedom and opportunity. Strong willed and hardworking, these people built the many solid brick homes that still stand, today housing newer generations that are equally hardworking and determined to succeed.
Heritage is found in the handsome city parks - the largest, 74 acres - that dot the city and provide wholesome recreation for all residents. There is heritage, too, in the many attractive churches that guide the spirit of the community.
Granite City is a city of convenience. Most shopping is centered along one main thoroughfare. A fine public school system has spread its elementary schools throughout the neighborhoods where children can easily walk to school. Its large high school, now undergoing a $14 million renovation and modernization, is conveniently centered in the community. A state-of-the-art hospital is also located in the heart of the city.
Granite City is a wonderful city, full of same eagerness and optimism that 100 years ago inspired the settlers of what was then called Six Mile Prairie, that built the homes, the churches, the schools, the parks, and the mills, and made Granite City strong.
A century of progress through heritage is past and Granite City looks to the future with confidence in itself and in its people.
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et on the eastern side of the St. Louis metropolitan area, Granite City is at the hub of an impressive transportation network of highways, railroads, and waterways.
Six Interstate Highways are all within five miles of the city. I-270 is only three miles to the north, while I-70 and I-55 are three miles to the south. Four miles to the south is I-44 and I-64 is five miles south. I-255 is only three miles east of the city. Four State Highways - 3, 162, 111, and 203 - criss cross the city, linking it with U.S. 40 four miles south and with neighboring communities.
Granite City travelers have easy access to the numerous airlines serving Lambert International Airport in St. Louis, only 14 miles west. Charter flights are available at St. Louis Regional Airport in nearby Bethalto and at St. Louis Downtown, nine miles away.
Hotel and motel accommodations throughout Granite City offer travelers a comfortable reprieve en route to their destination.
The city's business and industry are served by seven railroads: Norfolk Southern, Burlington Northern, Illinois Central, Chicago and Northwestern, Terminal Railroad of St. Louis, Southern Pacific Chicago, and St. Louis and Gateway Western. Service from Conrail and Union Pacific are available nearby. More than 80 motor carriers serve the St. Louis metropolitan area and there are 43 terminals.
Granite City area agriculture and its heavy industry ship via barges on the Mississippi River from the Tri-City Port and Foreign Trade Zone and from the Port of St. Louis.
For Granite City residents, getting to where they want to go is easy.
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ranite City was founded in 1896 - a century ago - but its history goes back to the early 1800s when it was called Six Mile Prairie or just Six Mile. Six Mile was a farming area that developed in the 1830s when pioneer families migrating westward and chose to settle where the soil was richest, the bottom land east of the Mississippi River. These farmers traveled the six miles to St. Louis to sell their produce and buy supplies, hence the name Six Mile Prairie.
Before mid-century, the National Road was constructed from the East to St. Louis, coursing through the Six Mile area. Built of planks, it assured that farm wagons loaded with produce would not become bogged down in mud after a heavy rain. The railroad came through Six Mile Prairie in 1865.
Two German immigrants changed the face of Six Mile. They were the Niedringhaus brothers, Frederick and William. The two arrived in St. Louis in the 1850s. In 1857, they began producing kitchen utensils, at first by hand and later by machines that stamped out utensils from a single sheet of metal. Early in 1874, during a visit to Germany, William found a store displaying utensils coated with a white material. He bought the process and returned to St. Louis where, on April 10, the first piece of graniteware was produced. It was coated with ground granite. The brothers quickly patented the process and the history of Granite City began.
In 1891, the Niedringhaus brothers crossed the Mississippi to the Six Mile area looking for a good place to relocate their rapidly growing business and establish a city. In 1892, they purchased 3,500 acres and began building. In 1896, they incorporated their community as Granite City, named for the graniteware that had made them wealthy.
By 1899, the Niedringhaus stamping plant was called NESCO, for National Enameling and Stamping Company. It covered 1.25 million square feet of space on 75 acres of land and had 4,000 employees. It closed in 1956, when graniteware could no longer compete with aluminum cookware, Pyrex, Corning Ware, and stainless steel.
During the years the plant thrived, it drew many immigrants from Central Europe to Granite City. They brought a strong work ethic and an eagerness to do well in this new country. The plant also attracted other heavy industrial firms to the city. Granite City Steel was one of them and remains one of the city's leading industrial firms.
Today, Granite City is a bustling community with a diverse roster of business and industry. A solid citizenry preserves the city's Central European heritage along with many of the homes and buildings constructed as the city grew. A cluster of flags from 17 Central European nations surrounds the flag of the United States in a downtown park, symbols of the city's recognition of its origins.
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he homes of Granite City reflect its 100 years of progress. They range broadly in design and size from gracious old Victorian "painted ladies" to sparkling new ranch and two story styles and from small bungalows and Cape Cod models to attractive apartment complexes.
Near downtown and stretching northeast to Wilson Park at the center of the city, homes range from classic turn of the century Victorian mansions to stout American Foursquare designs of the 1920s and '30s. Equally splendid older homes surround the park's perimeter, interspersed, occasionally, by a contemporary design.
To the northeast, beyond Wilson Park, there are smartly styled subdivisions from the 1960s through today, places like Maryville Heights, Wilshire Manor, and Oak Lawn Terrace. In the vicinity of Worthen Park, on the city's northeast side, there are new executive style homes built on large lots, homes where three-car garages are commonplace. Elegant landscaping surrounds them.
The pride of the people of Granite City shows in the manner they keep their homes. Everywhere throughout the city, houses are beautifully maintained. Many of the homes built in the early decades of this century display the crisp freshness of restoration. Rental apartment complexes have plenty of open green space separating the buildings, all attractively landscaped.
There's a home - a family place - in Granite City fitting every budget and every lifestyle.
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hopping in Granite City is always convenient. The traditional downtown area is in transition from retailing to business and services, but a few shops and stores remain offering furniture, appliances, jewelry, and apparel.
Nameoki Road (Route 203), a major north-south artery, has become the city's principal commercial street. It is lined for block after block with shopping centers offering all manner of goods and services, large free-standing stores, auto service stations, and a host of restaurants.
The Greater Granite City Area blends the qualities of a small town and a rich metropolitan area with a variety of eating establishments. More than 60 restaurants and cafeterias serve some of the best "home-away-from-home" cooked meals in the Metro-East area. Whether you're looking for a quick hamburger or prefer being pampered by an elegant candlelight dinner, the greater Granite City area can offer you both.
Everything from pizza to Polynesia, American to Chinese, and Mexican and Italian restaurants, together with centrally located hotels and motels serve the needs of all welcome visitors.
The shopping centers have from a dozen to more than two dozen stores and are often anchored by a large food store or other major retailer. They offer the advantages of convenient parking and competitive prices.
A new shopping area is expected to grow around a major national discount department store that has located on Route 3, a primary highway that runs along Granite City's western edge. Located in the northwest section, the area has attracted two of the city's automobile dealers. Northgate Industrial Park is nearby.
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