On a warm humid Mid-Missouri afternoon, a celebration 175 years in the making was held in City Hall Plaza in direct sunlight. As you looked down eight street from the plaza you could see the top of Jesse Hall. It was a picture perfect setting to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the partnership between the University of Missouri, Columbia and Boone County.
“It’s a very symbiotic relationship,” said Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid. “I think it’s a relationship that can’t help but grow and get stronger in the future.”
As the University has grown and expanded in the past 175 years so has the city of Columbia. The city would not frankly exist if it weren’t for the university.
“With 18,000 employees we are the heart economically of Columbia and Boone County,” said MU Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin.
The location of the University of Missouri was not always going to be in Columbia. In 1839 Columbia won the bid to be the home for MU. 900 Boone County residents raised the money to formulate the winning bid, which 175 years later has sculpted the city of Columbia into what it is today.
“I think you could imagine if we had not won the bid, provided the best incentive, none of us would be here,” said McDavid. “We would be in whatever town won the University of Missouri.”
MU has not only helped the city of Columbia grow, but it has shaped the culture as well. With the university located so close to downtown MU’s history has had a significant impact on the area, which is not always true in a college town.
“What you find different in Columbia is because of University of Missouri’s sort of history. It’s a very very long history, and fine arts were here from the very beginning, which was not true at Texas A&M,” said Loftin. “What I have noticed is a very large cultural change in terms of music, and theatre and the arts being here in the downtown area.”
The ceremony was concluded with a ribbon cutting which unveiled a display case inside of city hall with several MU artifacts. Among the artifacts included in the display case are a vintage tiger mascot costume and the grade book of the journalism school’s found dean Walter Williams.