East St. Louis, Illinois

New Book Commemorates East St. Louis’ 150th Anniversary

How is it that a city that has been labeled “the most distressed small in city in America” has also been home to some of the most amazing artists and talents in American life? And despite devastating population and job losses, how is it that East St. Louis has manifested such community resiliency and resolve? The Making of an All-America City: East St. Louis at 150 examines these paradoxes as it chronicles the rich history of this so-called failed industrial suburb. A collection of fifteen essays and one prose poem, The Making of an All-America City explores East St. Louis’ life as a river city, its complex experience with race, its challenges of deindustrialization, and the political choices that it has made from a wide range of perspectives.

Edited by prominent regional historian Mark Abbott, Harris-Stowe State University, The Making of an All-America City is a must-read for anyone who is interested in this fascinating city and what it says about America. This book is the first in the East St. Louis Sesquicentennial Series from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, which aims to examine the city’s influence, document and preserve its history, and provide meaningful reference for historians to come. The book is available for purchase through Virginia Publishing at and soon should be available in area book stores.

The book includes a chapter by Preservation Research Office Director Michael R. Allen entitled “The Second Skyline: Downtown East St. Louis’ Unique Architecture.” Last week, Allen joined fellow authors Debra Moore, Billie Turner and Andrew Theising on St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on The Air” with host Don Marsh. The authors discussed their chapters and the future of St. Louis’ urban neighbor to the east. You can listen to that program here.