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Kiener Plaza and the Old Courthouse, St. Louis

A place with purpose: St. Louis

Story by
postedFebruary 11, 2021

Destinations are finding ways to tell the important (past and present) stories of the Black community. In the wake of a tumultuous 2020 in the U.S.—between COVID-19 and widely publicized racial injustices—professionals are moving forward to revive the industry as well as highlight Black heritage tourism in their own backyards. Here is one of those destinations, and you can read the full story here.

Explore St. Louis’s website says early census figures show that Black people, both freed and enslaved, lived in St. Louis under French and Spanish colonial rule as early as the city’s founding in 1764. Their stories—the tragic and the triumphant—have shaped the major Missouri city to be a place in the present with profound Black heritage tourism.

“St. Louis’ stately domed Old Courthouse, part of the Gateway Arch National Park, is perhaps the single most important location in the U.S. relating to a cause that jump-started the Civil War,” says the CVB’s Renee Eichelberger. “It was there in 1847 that an enslaved man named Dred Scott filed suit for the freedom of himself, his wife Harriet, and their two daughters.”

Inside the Old Courthouse is an exhibition on this critical moment in history called “Dred Scott: A Legacy of Courage.” Re-creations of the trial are conducted throughout the year at the Old Courthouse, and Scott’s grave can be found at Calvary Cemetery.

Here are a few other attractions with Black history to discover in St. Louis:

  • The St. Louis Walk of Fame is six blocks made up of 150-plus sidewalk stars honoring notable people who were either born in the greater St. Louis area or spent their creative years there. Visitors can find stars for Chuck Berry, Miles Davis, Maya Angelou, and Elizabeth Keckley.
  • The George Washington Carver Garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden appropriately honors Carver’s life and legacy as he revolutionized Southern farming and became known as one of America’s greatest scientists, teachers, humanitarians, and advocates for sustainable agriculture.
  • The Missouri History Museum’s new “See STL Walking Tour” covers “The Ville,” a historical African American neighborhood. It’s home to several Grammy Award winners, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, three Grand Slam titleholders, the founder of the first Black collegiate sorority, and a chemist who worked on the atomic bomb.

For more information, email Eichelberger or go to

Top photo: Kiener Plaza and the Old Courthouse in St. Louis
Photo by Explore St. Louis