The first European settlers began arriving in the Granite City area in the 1830's attracted by the rich bottom land east of the Mississippi River. Granite City was originally called Six Mile Prairie after because its farmers had to travel six miles to St. Louis to sell their produce and buy supplies. An early ferry operated in the area and the Six Mile House, a stage coach stop on the old National Road was built during this time period.
The National Road was built of planks and connected St. Louis to the east and assured travelers that they would not be bogged down by mud after a heavy rain. The first railroad, an extension of the Terre Haute and Alton, arrived in 1856 and by 1904 ten railroads serviced the community.
The face of Six Mile Prairie was destined to change when two German immigrants, Frederick and William Niedringhaus, arrived in St. Louis in the 1850's. In 1857, they began a small but profitable business producing kitchen utensils.
During a visit to Germany in 1874, William came across a process where utensils were coated with an enamel that was mixed with powdered granite. He brought this knowledge back to St. Louis and soon the Niedringhaus brothers were producing a line of kitchen utensils called Graniteware. In 1892 they purchased 3,500 acres near Six Mile Prairie and platted the area in order to build a company town.
Granite City was incorporated in 1896, named for the graniteware that had made the Niedringhaus brothers wealthy. The Niedringhaus plant was called NESCO (National Enameling and Stamping Company) and operated until 1956 when it closed because it couldn’t compete with aluminum, glass and stainless steel cookware.