St. Louis, Missouri is sited just below the confluence of the two largest river systems on the North American continent. In total the Missouri and Mississippi River system is the fourth largest river system in the world. The Mississippi river is 600m wide and typically around 8m deep at St. Louis, although it is extremely unpredictable. Annual spring floods range from 2m-3.5m, and preclude typical commercial and residential uses along the riverfront. The record flood level at St. Louis was set in the great flood of 1993 at a height of 7.42m above normal.

As a result of its geographical location, immense size, and strategic importance, the majority of the Mississippi riverfront in St. Louis has been historically devoted to industries ranging from power generation, coke production, cold storage, brewing, shipbuilding and grain transshipping. Commodity transportation is still a big business along the St. Louis waterfront as the Cargill grain elevator across the river from Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch holds the equivalent of 14,500 hectares of grain.

As a result of the economic history of the riverfront and the infrastructural complications caused by flooding, 58% of the riverfront is totally inaccessible to the public. Of the segments that are publicly accessible, 80% are part of the 10km North Riverfront bike trail and are only connected to neighborhoods at six points. Even the approximately 12% of the riverfront that has been improved into civic space face severe challenges: the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, site of Saarinen's iconic Gateway Arch, is severed from downtown by a combination eleven lanes of traffic including depressed and elevated lanes of the Interstate 70 highway.

Member in St. Louis, USA

City to River was founded in 2008 by a combination of urbanists, activists, and designers with the mission of reorienting St. Louis to the river that is the sole reason for its existence. The grassroots organization focused on the convergence of three major events: a new General Management Plan for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the construction of a new bridge that would reroute Interstate 70 away to the North of downtown, and an impending international design competition for the Memorial.  We were extremely successful at advocating for the replacement of the existing I-70 highway barrier between downtown and the arch grounds. As a result of our efforts all five shortlisted design teams identified highway removal as the ultimate solution to connectivity problems. While we continue to fight for improved river access in downtown, we are also currently building partnerships with stakeholder organizations and communities to improve river access along the entire Mississippi riverfront.