2011 Student Research Conference:
24th Annual Student Research Conference

Many Homes Forsaken: The St. Louis Tornado of 1896 as a Progressive Reform Deterrent
Joseph H. Rogers
Dr. Jeff Gall, Faculty Mentor

Though the St. Louis Tornado of 1896 holds the title of third deadliest tornado in U.S. history and the single deadliest day in St. Louis, the disaster remains one of the most neglected events in the history of the city. This paper brings to light the connection between the failures in disaster recovery and the delay in the development of progressive municipal reforms. 1) The tornado tore through the heavily German wards of the south side, giving reformers a chance to win over the large voter base with an effective response; 2) the politicians instead chose to bolster their standing with the affluent West End; 3) in the election of 1897 the ethnic wards voted for mayor Henry Zigenhein on promises of political favors. This study adds an important piece to the history of St. Louis at the beginning of the unfortunate trend of its downfall as a regional center.

Keywords: tornado, disaster, St. Louis, urban history, politics, Gilded Age

Topic(s):History

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 42-1
Location: MG 2001
Time: 2:45

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