St. Louis is the birthplace of the Olympics in America. In 1904, the city hosted the third Olympiad, the first Olympics to take place in the United States and in the Western Hemisphere. Celebrating and furthering St. Louis’ Olympic legacy is an important part of the St. Louis Sports Commission’s mission.
We believe in the value of promoting the region’s contribution to the Olympic movement and understanding the benefit the 1904 Olympic legacy can bring to the community.
Although the St. Louis Games took place more than a century ago and looked much different than the Olympics today, the region is forever among exclusive company and the world’s greatest cities as an Olympic host.
Over time, St. Louis has furthered its Olympic legacy by launching the national Senior Olympics and the State Games of America, and by hosting celebrated events like the U.S. Olympic Festival, Olympic Trials, national governing body championships and Olympic torch relays.
The Sports Commission continues to work to attract Olympic-related competitions to St. Louis. It also is taking on a broader initiative to visibly promote St. Louis’ role in the Olympic movement as a source of pride, motivation and inspiration for the community. The organization is collaborating on this effort with St. Louisan Shad Schoenke, an award-winning marketing veteran, civic booster and Olympic fan. Schoenke has developed much of the vision, content and creative for the Olympic Legacy Initiative. Among its goals is to encourage the St. Louis region to embrace its Olympic legacy. More information on the initiative as well as the history and innovations of the 1904 Games can be found at www.stlouis1904legacy.org.
In addition to the website, Schoenke and the Sports Commission are working to visibly identify all of the sites where Olympic events took place in 1904. This will be done through interpretive signage commemorating the venues, showcasing their historical relevance and highlighting the ways the St. Louis Games shaped the future of the Olympics. The partners have produced a special Olympic Legacy Brochure that profiles the sites and illustrates the signage project vision. They also intend to engage the community through educational initiatives and grassroots programming connected to the Olympic legacy. Schoenke and the Sports Commission ultimately hope to create a world-class gathering space that celebrates St. Louis’ place in the Olympic movement.
It’s important to note that this effort is as much about our future as our past. It’s about being inspired by the Olympic spirit and the most popular sporting event on the planet. It’s about recalling a time when St. Louis reached for greatness, and using our Olympic legacy to achieve greatness again.
The Sports Commission is proud to represent St. Louis in the World Union of Olympic Cities, an organization endorsed by the International Olympic Committee and a platform for past and future host cities to share experiences and transfer knowledge.