hroughout its 100-year history, Granite City has been home to heavy industry. Two of its oldest industrial firms have been part of the community for much or more than those 100 years - Granite City Steel and American Steel Foundries, established in 1878 and 1905, respectively.
The list of the city's major employers begins with Granite City Steel. It has 3,100 workers and produces flat rolled sheet steel. American Steel Foundries is next with 900 employees. It makes castings and products for railroad cars.
Other metals-related industrial firms in Granite City include A.O. Smith, producer of automobile parts, with more than 200 workers; Heidtman Steel, whose 65 employees produce flat rolled sheet steel; International Mill Service, steel reclaimers with 56 employees; NESCO Steel Barrel Company, with 42 workers producing barrel and drums; PreCoat Metals Company, specializing in metal treating and painting, with 70 employees; Robinson Steel, steel processors with 140 workers; and Taracorp, Inc., producing lead and lead products with 140 employees.
Among other major companies in the city are American Colloid, which produces foundry sands, additives, and cat litter; ADM Packaged Oils, producing vegetable oils and shortening; Air Products and Chemicals, specializing in compressed gases; Capri Sun Inc., maker of flavoring concentrates and fruit drinks, Nestle Company, Inc., maker of instant tea; and Prairie Farms Dairy, which processes dairy products.
Granite City has suffered the same declines in employment that most heavy industry communities across the nation have suffered in recent decades. Despite the fact that the Granite City area has an estimated 14,000 jobs in steel related industrial operations, its work force is under-employed. Creation of a large Enterprise Zone and, especially, the two industrial TIF districts are evidence that the city intends to act in its own best interests and encourage new industrial development. As a direct result of the creation of one TIF district, American Steel reopened its facility that was closed for several years.
Development of the new, 550-acre Northgate Industrial Park on the city's northwestern edge is a major plus for the community. Northgate has attracted a new, more diversified base of industry and also drawn new commercial enterprises to the area.
The Granite City campus of Belleville Area College is located near this developing area, assuring easy accessibility to whatever specialized training employees might require.
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ranite City's proximity to St. Louis opens its vast cultural landscape to residents. Still, there is much to enjoy at home.
High school drama students and musicians perform regularly to appreciative audiences. The SummerStage Players, an amateur thespian organization, started doing plays in 1981 and has continued ever since. Today, the group has its own 70-seat theater and does five programs annually, performing each from three to five times. The SummerStage Players have about 70 active members and presents comedies, dramas, and musicals.
Drummer Stan Fornaszewski and his collection of musicians has been a fixture in Granite City entertainment for decades. His big band performs summertime concerts in Wilson Park and he provides big bands, orchestras, and combos for all occasions.
The Granite City Public Library is a cultural focal point in the community, providing a wealth of books and services. The library's programs for preschoolers, such as "Summer Storytime Fun," are popular. So too are special events like the Three Billy Goats Gruff Puppet Show, programs by folks from the St. Louis Science Center, and The Magic House, from the St. Louis Children's Museum.
It is the Granite City's proximity and ease of access to St. Louis that rounds out its cultural scene. The big city beckons with such inspiring attractions as the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and the Opera Theater of St. Louis. The Orchestra, whose home is Powell Hall, presents its summer County Pops concerts in Queeny Park, a relaxing 570-acre site that is easily reached from Granite City.
St. Louis' Muny Outdoor Theater presents a summer series at a beautiful, 12,000-seat theater in Forest Park. Forest Park is also the setting for the St. Louis Zoo, the St. Louis Science Center and the St. Louis Art Museum. The famous Fox Theater in St. Louis brings to its stage the top names of show business.
Other cultural highlights in St. Louis are the Missouri Botanical Gardens, a 2,400 acre arboretum and nature preserve, and the National Museum of Transportation featuring transportation vehicles of yesteryear. Throughout the St. Louis area there are dozens of museums, art galleries and historic places to visit. For those who seek their entertainment in gaming, the action of the Alton Belle Casino is only a few miles north in Alton.
In all of this, Granite City shares the applause.
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utdoor loving Granite City families take full advantage of the splendid facilities found in the city's 12 beautiful parks and in the area's several exceptional state parks.
Wilson Park, in the heart of the community, is the oldest and largest of the dozen parks operated by the Granite City Park District, which observed its Diamond Jubilee concurrently with the city's Centennial celebration. Opened in 1923, the park covers 74 tree-shaded acres and is the site of a new swimming complex, a covered ice skating rink, ball diamonds, basketball courts, horseshoe pits lighted tennis courts, a well-equipped playground, fitness trail, picnic tables and shelters, beautiful garden areas for relaxation, concession stand, restroom facilities, and a new gazebo for band concerts.
Worthen Park, on the city's east side, is second largest with more than 27 acres. It offers soccer fields, a sand volleyball court, picnic shelter, playground, ball diamonds, basketball courts, a concession stand and restroom facilities. Most of the city's other parks, while smaller, feature recreation facilities such as ball diamonds, basketball courts, playgrounds, picnic tables, and tennis courts.
Three parks are passive, designed for relaxation, with eye-pleasing landscaping and gardens. One passive park contains a war memorial, a fountain, and attractive flower beds.
Golfers enjoy the challenges offered by several area golf courses. Arlington Golf Course is a 6,947-yard championship course located a short distance east of the city. It features a swimming pool among its facilities. Nearby is The Legacy Golf Course, another excellent 18-hole course with such amenities as a pro shop and a restaurant. Two courses in nearby Edwardsville are also easily reached by Granite City golfers. Another popular course is River's Edge at a nearby army depot.
The Granite City Park District plans a comprehensive program of summertime sports, recreation, and special events during the summer months. Included are boys baseball and girls softball schools, tennis lessons for all ages, step aerobics, country line dancing, flag football, golf lessons, a preschool, and band concerts in Wilson Park.
Granite City families also enjoy the facilities of several state parks. The nearest is Horseshoe Lake State Park, a 2,854-acre park with a 1,200-acre lake shaped like an oxbow or horseshoe. It offers 48 tent and trailer camp sites, fishing and boating (with a boat ramp and boat rentals), picnicking and playgrounds, and is a favorite spot for birdwatching. More than 55 different species have been spotted along the trail that winds through the park.
To the north of Granite City, a few miles north of Alton, is Pere Marquette State Park, an 8,000-acre recreation mecca. It offers every form of recreation that families love, from camping to swimming, boating to fishing, horse riding trails to hiking. The park even has a 72-room lodge that is open year around. The lodge features a l90-seat dining room, a beamed great room with a mammoth stone fireplace, and an indoor swimming pool. A conference center at the lodge is a 2,900-square-foot facility that can accommodate 300 diners.
To the east of Granite City lies mammoth Carlyle Lake, 18 miles long and covering 26,000 acres, with 11,000 acres of public land surrounding it. Three thousand-acre Eldon Hazlet State Park stands on the western shore of Carlyle Lake. It features 336 camp sites accommodating trailers and a walk-in area containing 36 tent camping sites. There's also a group camping area. Carlyle Lake, itself, offers power and sailboating, fishing, and the full roster of water sports. The lake has several marinas, a sailboat harbor, and four large sand beaches for swimming.
All the family fun is available in and around Granite City.
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ducation in Granite City was on the minds of its earliest settlers. So, in 1857, the Methodists of Six Mile built a combination church and school building and the Kinderhook school was born, the settlement's first school. It closed in 1902, but by then, public school education had taken root in Granite City. The city completed construction of its first public school in 1897.
Today, the community is served by Granite City Community Unit School District 9. The district operates nine elementary schools, two junior high schools, and a senior high school. It also operates a special education facility. District 9 has a total enrollment of about 8,250 students.
Elementary education focuses on the basics of reading, mathematics, and social studies, augmented by music, art, and physical education. Seventh and eighth grade students attend the two junior high schools. The schools prepare youngsters for the transition to high school.
Students at Granite City's Senior High School choose from more than 190 different academic and career-oriented courses. Several courses are accelerated or carry honors. The school offers advanced placement courses in calculus and chemistry which earn college credit in high school.
More than 65 courses train students for occupations, including a variety of health occupations, tourism and hospitality, graphic arts, auto technology, and welding. Many of these also provide college credit through arrangements with Belleville Area College and Lewis and Clark Community College.
Students can earn credit for participation in the school's various bands and choruses and for work on the school's yearbook. In addition, the school encourages participation in a variety of extracurricular clubs and organizations.
In the city's Centennial year, the Senior High School began a two-year, $14 million renovation program that encompasses the entire complex of three buildings - school, gymnasium, and cafeteria. When complete, the school will have a new main entrance, new electrical wiring, new plumbing, central air conditioning, a new media center, and a fresh new appearance inside and out.
The city has two parochial elementary schools that provide alternatives to public education. They maintain the same curriculum emphasis, but with a foundation based on religious beliefs. In addition, the city has several day care and preschools, help to working parents.
After graduation from high school, many Granite City students begin work toward a bachelor's degree at a nearby two-year college. Others continue their career training, working toward an associate degree or certificate of completion.
The Granite City campus of Belleville Area College is the most convenient. At the northern edge of the city, the college has an enrollment of about 900 students engaged in transfer programs or occupation/career studies. The college offers associate degrees in arts, science, and applied science.
Transfer programs are designed to provide the first two years of a university education. Students earning associate degrees in art or science then transfer to a four-year institution to complete their studies. The college offers 34 different transfer programs in such subjects as business administration, chemistry, pre-law, and pre-medicine. Another 35 programs are directed at providing either an associate in applied science degree or a certificate. These programs include such careers as aviation electronics, banking and finance, horticulture, marketing management, and power plant technology.
Belleville Area College's Industrial Training Center is also located at the Granite City campus and provides industrial training for electricians, machinists, millwrights, pipefitters, welders, and electronics and instrumentation technicians.
Granite City is about equidistant between Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey and the Belleville Area College in Belleville, so Granite City students can attend classes at these locations, if they choose.
Belleville Area College offers customized employee training assistance to Granite City business and industry. Through the college's Adult Education programs, adults can receive high school diplomas, study English as a second language, and learn to read and write. Belleville Area College offers special programs and services for older persons, enabling them to remain active members of their communities.
After receiving an associate degree in arts or science, Granite City students can transfer to Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE), only a few miles to the northeast of Granite City. More than 11,000 students are enrolled at SIUE. The university's programs range widely and include degree programs in 57 majors and 42 minors.
The university's six schools award degrees. They are the College of Arts and Science, the School of Business, the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Education, the School of Engineering, and the School of Nursing. SIUE's School of Dental Medicine is located farther to the north in Alton.
SIUE is one of the area's sites for the U.S. Small Business Administration's Small Business Development Center program, an organization that promotes growth, expansion, innovation, increased productivity, and management improvement in area business.
Granite City students also have easy access to several other well-known colleges and universities in the St. Louis area, among them St. Louis University, Washington University, and the University of Missouri at St. Louis.
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