As a result of its central location and access to the Missouri River, Jefferson City, Missouri, (population 38,053), was founded in 1821 as the state capital. Daniel M. Boone, son of the famous pioneer, and Major Elias Bancroft were commissioned to plan and lay out the town.
Jefferson City grew steadily for the next 35 years until the Civil War left the capital and the state with divided sympathies. Jefferson City was slow to recover after the Civil War, but the railroads began to flourish, and new industries appeared in the 1880s. Electric lights were installed, a waterworks system completed, and in 1896, a bridge was built across the Missouri River, securing Jefferson City as the permanent seat of state government.
Since 1890, the city has shown a slow, conservative pattern of growth, relying almost entirely upon government expansion and related businesses. Today, Jefferson City is the headquarters for more than 80 trade and professional organizations. Major industries located in Jefferson City include book binderies, plastics, and steel fabricators.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition has special significance for Jefferson City. The city’s namesake, Thomas Jefferson, instigated the expedition, and the explorers were likely the first citizens to cite and map the land that became Jefferson City. As part of the community’s bicentennial celebration in 2004-2006, a bronze monument, featuring large-sized figures from the expedition, was created for display at the Capitol Complex.
The Jefferson Landing State Historic Site, built in the late 1830s, houses exhibits on transportation of the 19th century. The city has three historic districts, and the Cole County Historical Society operates a public museum and library. Visitors can take self-guided walking tours of the Capitol and historic downtown areas. An annual ice cream social at Memorial Park features a different historical theme each year, presenting memorabilia and displays.
Designated a Preserve America Community in October 2007.