National City was incorporated in 1907 to meet the needs of the St. Louis National Stock Yards and the adjacent meat packing plants. East St. Louis agreed to provide some services to the area (like fire protection) and promised not to annex it. National City never had more than a token residential base. It was a shell of civil government created by and for the meat-packing companies that operated here, including Morris (1889-1935), Armour (1903-1959), Swift (1893-1967), and Brooklyn Packing Company (which later became Hunter and closed in 1982).
Around 1900, the stockyards had 1,200 employees and processed 50,000 animals every week. The Armour and Swift plants would each employ about 4,000 people at their peak. National City never had more than 300 residents, though, all of whom leased their residences from the St. Louis National Stock Yards.
The stock yards officially closed in 1997 after a large fire, but most of the businesses had long since left National City. With the closing of the stockyards, National City was officially dissolved and its fifty or so remaining residents were moved out. Most of the remaining structures were demolished when the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge was built. Fairmont City later annexed much of the land that was once National City.
©Dean Klinkenberg, 2018
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