1902 Encyclopedia > St Louis, Senegambia/Senegal

St Louis
Senegambia or Senegal, West Africa

ST LOUIS, the capital of Senegambia or Senegal, West Africa, and known to the natives as far as Timbuktu as N'dar, is built on an island 10 sea-miles above the mouth of the Senegal river, near the right bank, which is there a narrow strip of sand—the Langue de Barbarie— occupied by the villages of N'dar Toute and Guet N'dar. Two bridges on piles connect the town with the villages ; and the Pont Faidherbe, 2132 feet long and constructed in 1863, affords communication with Bouetville, a suburb and the terminus of the railway, on the left bank. The houses of the European portion of St Louis have for the most part flat roofs, balconies, and terraces. Besides the governor's residence the most prominent buildings are the cathedral, the great mosque, the court-house, and the various barracks and offices connected with the army. The town also contains the Senegal bank (1855), a Govern-ment printing-office (1855), a chamber of commerce (1869), a public library, and an agricultural society (1874). The round beehive huts of Guet N'dar are mainly inhabited by native fishermen. N'dar Toute consists of villas with gardens, and is frequented as a summer watering-place. There is a pleasant public garden in the town, and the neighbourhood is rendered attractive by alleys of date-palms. As there are no natural wells on the island, and the artesian well at the north side of the town gives only brackish water, St Louis used to be dependent on rain-tanks and the river (and except during the rainy season the water in the lower part of the river is salt); but in 1879 1,600,000 francs were appropriated to the construc-tion of a reservoir at a height of 300 feet above the sea, 7\ miles from the town. The mouth of the Senegal being closed by a bar of sand with extremely shifting entrances for small vessels, the steamships of the great European lines do not come up to St Louis, and passengers, in order to meet them, are obliged to proceed by rail to Dakar, on the other side of Cape Verd. Ordinary vessels have often to wait outside or inside the bar for days or weeks and partial unloading is often necessary. It is proposed to construct a pier opposite Guet N'dar. The population of St Louis was 15,980 in 1876 and 18,924 in 1883. Though founded in 1662, the town did not receive a municipal government till August 1872. See SENEGAL.

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