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Is St. Louis a Northern city or a Southern city?

Is St. Louis a Northern city or a Southern city?

Given where it sits on the map, St. Louis fits a type — a quintessentially Midwestern city ensconced in America’s heartland. But look a little closer, and that label gets more complicated.

Strong influences from the northern and southern regions of the country shaped this metropolis and left deep imprints.

“Because we lie in such a central location, there’s always a lot of questions about what our geographical identity really is,” said Christopher Alan Gordon, director of library and collections at the Missouri Historical Society.

So, does St. Louis lean more to the South or the North? Or is it really the “western most Eastern city?” We posed these contentious questions to experts in several areas — from history to culture to linguistics. In some of the categories, there’s a clear-cut answer. But on a few topics, our experts clashed.

“These categories are so fraught,” said Corinne Wohlford Mason, associate professor of humanities at Fontbonne University. “It matters so much here. The answers reveal different things about our identity." 

We drilled down into how this plays out in the city of St. Louis, and here’s what we discovered.



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