St. Louis celebrates its 250th birthday this weekend

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)–  You can wear your heart on your sleeve for this city this weekend.

Thursday crews were putting the finishing touches on Friday’s burning love festival at Art Hill.

There will be fireworks, fire dancers and the world’s largest engagement party, all to celebrate this river town named after a French king.

“When you study the history of this North America from a French perspective, everything looks a little different,” says Yale Professor Jay Gitlin.

Jay Gitlin ought to know, he’s been studying the history of St. Louis his entire life.

“They had already gone from being French to being under Spanish rule and now they were going to be under American rule,” says Gitlin.

Thursday at the Missouri History Museum they were preparing for Friday’s symposium that will bring ambassadors from France, Spain, Quebec and the Osage Nation.

And you’d better bring your appetite to unravel the layer cake that is St. Louis.

“Missouri History Museum is the best history museum in the country,” says Gitlin.  “New York has a wonderful history museum, Denver has a wonderful one.  The best one is here in St. Louis.”

Gitlin and many more will gather Friday to commemorate the founding of St. Louis in 1764.

“It’s incredible to understand what a remarkable cosmopolitan place this was when parts of the country East of us were hacking their way through a wilderness,” says event organizer Elizabeth Cawns.

The museum’s 250 in 250 exhibit will open Friday as well to honor the people, places and moments from this mound city.

“Even people who are deeply steeped in traditions and the history of St. Louis are going to learn something new,” says Cawns.

And when you’re talking civic pride, it can’t hurt to learn something new about a great American city.