- There are three places in Missouri that are all vying for the worst air quality in the state.
- Being so close to three rivers, one city, Portage des Sioux, experienced regular flooding. However, in 1951, when the worst flood on record occurred, the town was miraculously saved from disaster.
- Two suburbs of St. Louis also have worse air quality, as St. Louis is an industrial city with many factories.
Missouri is pretty average in terms of air quality. It comes in 29th place in the United States, including the District of Columbia. It’s also the 18th most populated state according to the 2010-2014 American Community Survey. With such a high population, Missouri isn’t doing too bad regarding air quality. Some cities and towns are worse than others in the state.
The city in Missouri with the worst air quality is Portage Des Sioux, a part of St. Charles County. However, two municipalities in St. Louis narrowly bested Portage Des Sioux in terms of poor air quality: Glasgow Village, a census-designated place, and Riverview, a village.
Portage Des Sioux
Portage des Sioux is a small city on the Mississippi River with a rich history. Its name means ‘The Land Between the Rivers’ because it is centrally located between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. The narrowest part of Portage Des Sioux and its surrounding area is less than two miles across. The name derives from the fact that Native Americans walked across the small stretch of land with their canoes to avoid an extra twenty-five miles of water travel.
The land was colonized by Frances Saucier at Governor Zenon Trudeau’s request. The first settlers were Franco-Americans who moved in the hopes of escaping the U.S. government’s rules and regulations. They moved to Portage des Sioux in 1779 and lived in tents throughout the winter, building homes the next spring.
In the first few years, it was used as a stopping place for Native Americans as they traveled the river. Relationships with local tribes and city inhabitants were good until the War of 1812 when the Indians sided with the British. After the war ended two years later, the relationship was still rocky with the tribes and locals of Portage des Sioux.
In 1815, a gathering was held at Portage des Sioux to determine land ownership and create a peace treaty. It was here that Governor William Clark offered the tribes thousands of dollars worth of gifts, which were accepted in exchange for land. It was determined that the land on both sides of the Mississippi River, north of the Missouri and Illinois Rivers, belonged to the Americans. This forced many tribes to leave the land they previously inhabited and move to the western portion of Missouri.
Portage des Sioux: The Blessing of the Fleet
Being so close to three rivers, the city experienced regular flooding. In 1951 the worst flood on record occurred, it was expected to decimate the town. It was then that the town prayed to Virgin Mary and after two weeks escaped almost completely unaffected. Just six years later, a 45-foot tall statue of the Virgin Mary was mounted to a pedestal overlooking the Mississippi. It was called ‘Our Lady of the Rivers’.
Since the statue was erected, a tradition called ‘The Blessing of the Fleet’ has occurred. Every year in July, thousands of boats pass by the statue and local clergy pray for safe travels. The event has become a regular festival with travelers from all over visiting.
Portage des Sioux: Air Quality
While the history of the city is fascinating, it is lacking in the air quality department. Portage des Sioux has an Air Quality Index rating of 49.3. This is considered ‘fair’ on some scales and ‘good’ according to the Environmental Protection Agency. For it to be the poorest city in terms of air quality (after the two municipalities of St. Louis), this number isn’t too bad.
The air quality can decrease for many reasons, but it’s usually caused by two: a high level of ground ozone and particulate matter. Ground ozone is caused by vehicles that put off emissions. It is also caused by industrial emissions from places like factories and mills that release ozone. The particulate matter pertains to all particles that are in the air. This may include fog, smoke, and other particles that are emitted by vehicles, natural phenomena, or human activities.
Portage des Sioux: Today
Portage des Sioux has a small population of only 314 people as recorded on the American Community Survey of 2010-2014. Despite its small population, the city receives regular tourism due to the statue of the Virgin Mary as well as its history and proximity to St. Louis. It was also featured in the 2008 season of the ‘Farmer Wants a Wife’ television show.
Where Is Portage des Sioux Located on a Map?
Portage des Sioux is a small city on the Mississippi River with a rich history. Its name means ‘The Land Between the Rivers’ because it is centrally located between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. It is quite a small city in St. Charles County, with only 328 residents according to the 2010 census.
Tying with Riverview, another municipality of St. Louis, for first place in poor air quality is Glasgow Village. It is less than one square mile of land area but is considered a census-designated place. There were 4,895 residents living there as of 2014. It is located close to the Mississippi River as well as the North Riverfront Park and the St. Louis Riverfront Trail.
Glasgow Village sprang up in the 1950s as a suburb of St. Louis. In 1957, construction began on the Glasgow Village Shopping Center, a central gathering place for locals. The center had space for fifteen tenants and ran successfully and was very popular for years. It housed a barber shop, dancing school, bakery, and many more tenants during its time. For locals, it was a sort of one-stop shop that served as their main street.
By the time the early 2000s hit, the center had fallen into disarray. There were very few tenants and it had become an area where illegal activities ran rampant. The county executive, Charlie Dooley, with the approval of the village’s citizens, decided to demolish the center in 2013.
Glasgow Village Air Quality
The air quality of Glasgow Village is 52.3, which is considered ‘moderate’ according to the EPA. Moderate air quality is considered acceptable, but it may cause more of an impact on certain individuals and groups. People with asthma or heart disease, as well as older adults and children, are most at risk when the air quality is lower.
Because St. Louis is an industrial city with many factories, it makes sense that the air quality of its suburbs is so low. It is also a place where people travel via bus, taxi, or car, so emissions from vehicles are noticeably higher.
Where is Glasglow Village Located on a Map?
Glasgow Village is a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, that sprang up in the 1950s. There are about 5,000 residents in this area as of 2010. Many small families and married couples tend to live in this area.
Riverview and Air Quality
Tying Glasgow Village for the poorest air quality is Riverview, another suburb of St. Louis. Unlike Glasgow Village, which is a census-designated place, Riverview is a village. It has 2,854 residents as of 2014. For an area that is only 0.83 square miles of land, this is quite a high population density.
The Village of Riverview was first established in 1950. In a village, the government is different than that of a typical city. Rather than having a Mayor, the city has five elected Trustees who oversee the daily operations of the community. The community is very active and currently is working on a few projects. They are demolishing abandoned homes to prevent crime from occurring. They are also redesigning the St. Cyr Bridge.
Before Riverview became the village it is today, it was mostly farmland. It’s the home of a museum for General Daniel Bissel who led troops during the revolutionary war as well as the War of 1812. The first public school in the village opened in 1872 and is called Aldridge School. The first fire station was built in 1897, and from that time on the village continued growing and becoming more populated.
It was a place of industry and was home to a large brewery, as well as multiple manufacturers of building products. Its close location to the city, as well as the Mississippi River, made shipping and selling products easy.
Riverview tied with Glasgow Village for the worst air quality in the entire state of Missouri. Since Riverview is a village built on industry, the poor air quality is likely due to the factories and manufacturing companies in the area.
Where is Riverview Located on a Map?
Riverview is another suburb of St. Louis with more than 2,000 residents as of the 2020 census. Most residents are families with young children.
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