On June 15, 1957, a 16.54″ (42.01 cm) deluge of rain fell on East St. Louis, Illinois within a twelve-hour period.
A region of plentiful coal resources, East St. Louis grew quickly after the Civil War with industries such as mining, steel, and also meatpacking. The population peaked in the 1950’s, when ensuing de-industrialization and factory closures ushered in a long period of decline. The deterioration of the core urban area of East St. Louis was so severe that John Carpenter filmed his futuristic science fiction film Escape from New York on location there, using the blighted cityscape to represent a postapocalyptic Manhattan Island which had been converted to a maximum-security prison.
In the 50s, though, East St. Louis was evidently still bucolic enough for Ward Cleaver to flatteringly refer to his wife, June, as “the Belle of East St. Louis” in an episode of Leave it to Beaver. Other notable (real) people connected with the city: Miles Davis, Jimmy Connors, Dawn Harper, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Al Joyner all were born there; and Ike and Tina Turner met at the Club Manhattan in 1956. Illinois Senator and Democratic Minority Whip Richard Durban was also born and raised in East St. Louis. At the time of the record-breaking deluge, Dick was 12 years old.