Gateway Arch | St. Louis Public Radio

Gateway Arch

The Baby Arch project

It’s headed for St. Louis, an arch to the sky;

A Gateway to the West, 630 feet high.

A hundred generations will see what you’ve made

Risin’ on the Mississippi with glory and grace.

— “An American Dream” by Ike Erdman and David Bush

Retired welder Ike Erdmann is proud of the work that he and nearly 300 Pennsylvania boilermakers did on the Gateway Arch 50 years ago, so he wrote and recorded a song about them.

Originally published in St. Louis Globe-Democrat / Courtesy St. Louis Mercantile Library

For 50 years, the Gateway Arch has drawn visitors from around the world to downtown St. Louis. From presidents and pop stars, to school kids and church groups, millions of people each year have come to marvel at the monument.  But exactly how many people have visited in five decades? That depends on how they’re counted.

The city is preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the final construction of the Gateway Arch, shown here from Luther Ely Smith Square in downtown.
Courtesy CityArchRiver Foundation

St. Louisans will have three opportunities to celebrate the Gateway Arch's 50th anniversary, which is one week from Wednesday.

Several design elements from the original Arch grounds are being incorporated in interesting ways in the renovation plans.
Courtesy CityArchRiver Foundation

When the Arch grounds renovations are complete in spring 2017, the site will boast a new museum, new walking paths and new access points from downtown.

It will also include several fascinating design elements from the Arch's past that visitors might walk by without noticing - or not be able to see in the first place.

 2013 arch photo
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Beacon

The Gateway Arch reaches the big 5-0 this year, and is thus deserving of citywide celebration — not only for its beautiful, imposing design, but because the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is one of St. Louis’ top tourist sites, attracting more than 2 million visitors every year.

While many duck into the Old Courthouse or explore the Mississippi River on the Becky Thatcher or the Tom Sawyer, the big draw is the Arch itself — all 630 feet of it.

Bryan Werner | Metro East Park and Recreation District

Five, four, three, two, one ... Look up!

The three 800-horsepower engines that power the Gateway Geyser are reaching warp speed, sounding strong enough to launch a rocket.

At full power, the geyser shoots 7,500 gallons of water per minute into the sky above the East St. Louis riverfront. If it’s not windy, the watery blast can reach 600 feet, nearly the height of the Gateway Arch, which is directly across the Mississippi River.

Courtesy Missouri History Museum

If you visit the new “Arch Perspectives” exhibit at the Missouri History Museum, take the time to read the story cards written by St. Louisans about the iconic riverfront monument. The personal thoughts range from joyful to angry:

Enough of Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard is open to host a concert.
Donna Korando | St. Louis Public Radio

In looking around for new, free music events last week, I came across a series I hadn’t seen before: Walk to the Wharf. But before I pointed people to it, I wanted to check out the venue so I could make an honest recommendation.

Now, it’s not that I had never been to a concert on the Arch grounds (Waylon Jennings in 1991 counts, right?). But I had been told that the Arch grounds were torn up. What's more, Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard was not open the last time I drove that way from Laclede’s Landing.

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial could change to the Gateway Arch National Park by July 2018.
(photo by Tim Tolle via Flickr Creative Commons)

Two days of celebrations are planned for the Gateway Arch’s 50th anniversary this October.

According to organizers with the CityArchRiver Foundation and Great Rivers Greenway, citizens and dignitaries will gather on Wednesday, Oct. 28, near the Old Courthouse to commemorate the moment when builders set in place the landmark’s crucial keystone. The Missouri History Museum is also hosting an exhibit and panel discussion that day.

Rendering of the exterior of the renovated Arch museum.
CityArchRiver

The timing might have been better, Walter L. Metcalfe Jr. said Wednesday.

His plan was to remain as chairman of the CityArchRiver Foundation through Oct. 28, 2015, the golden jubilee of the topping off of the Gateway Arch, which is the central feature of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the signature of St. Louis.

Oct. 28 was his marker, Metcalfe said, his exit cue. He said he had no desire to stay on for the next phase of the project, the organization of a conservancy for the Arch-centered project.

Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates and National Park Service

What’s it like to perch atop the Gateway Arch, 630 feet above the city of St. Louis?

The National Park Service has been releasing stunning videos of technicians from the Wiss, Janney, Elstner  engineering firm roping down the north leg to collect samples of the discoloration on the monument’s stainless steel exterior.

For St. Louisans, who watched in awe as the workers hung onto the shiny icon last October, the videos are must-see: The footage was captured with GoPro cameras mounted on the helmets of the Arch-walkers, and it’s … dizzying.

Elementary students from KIPP Victory Academy in St. Louis and Rockwood Center for Creative Learning in Ellisville break ground on the Arch museum expansion Wednesday, April 29, 2015. CityArchRiver Executive Director Maggie Hales looks on from back.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Construction is underway on the Gateway Arch museum expansion.  The groundbreaking ceremony for the latest phase of the $380 million CityArchRiver project was held Wednesday at the site of the future entryway to the museum, sandwiched between the Arch and the soon-to-be-completed park over the highway.

Red and violet hues are seen in discoloration on the Gateway Arch, as an engineer and scientist from Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc., studies its exterior.
Courtesy of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.

The stains on the Gateway Arch's steel surface are not due to significant structural distress, deterioration or corrosion, according to the results of a comprehensive study on the monument's structural health released Thursday.

The bison will move to Fort Larned in Kansas
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

A bison migration is happening in St. Louis. The stuffed bison at the Museum of Westward Expansion is leaving for the Great Plains at Fort Larned in Kansas. According to Park Ranger Interpretative Specialist Richard Ziino, the bison is making way for contemporary learning styles.

Courtesy CityArchRiver

Most of the renovations at the Gateway Arch are scheduled to be finished in October, in time for the monument’s 50th anniversary.

Work on the park over the highway, Luther Ely Smith Square and the riverfront will be done by October, said Ryan McClure, CityArchRiver’s communications director. CityArchRiver is a $380 million effort to connect the Gateway Arch and the city.

Jason Rosenbaum, St. Louis Public Radio

The group in charge of overhauling Kiener Plaza is giving the public a taste of what's to come.

CityArchRiver had an open house on Monday in downtown St. Louis to give the public a view of Kiener Plaza's redesign plans. It’s part of a broader project to revamp the Gateway Arch grounds over the next few years.

The group is planning to add an extensive playground and an interactive fountain. The project will also include a large event lawn for concerts and movies, as well as a place for people to park their bicycles.

Perry Bascom
Provided by the family

If you looked across a crowded room at a party and saw Perry Bascom, you might get the impression that he was just another unreconstructed preppy on his way to play tennis. Or should you glimpse him on his way to work, you might conclude he was one more soul heading downtown to commence another day of quiet desperation in business.

The trees that are slated for removal on the Arch grounds are marked with a pink ribbon.
Rebecca Smith/St. Louis Public Radio

The National Park Service will start removing 1,200 trees on the Gateway Arch grounds in earnest on Monday. 

The removal is part of a years-long project by CityArchRiver to renovate the popular tourist attraction, and it could start as early as Friday, according to the group's communications director Ryan McClure. He said the first few trees are coming down Friday to move in construction equipment.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Who ARE those daring engineers who have been rappelling down the north leg of the Gateway Arch to check the condition of the monument’s shiny stainless steel exterior?

Officially, they’re known as the “Difficult Access Team” of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, a Chicago-based firm of engineers, architects and scientists who specialize in assessing and restoring historic buildings and monuments.

“We are building doctors,’’ says Stephen Kelley who is leading the project. “We are doing a diagnosis.”

File photo | Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon

Engineers will be literally hanging around the Gateway Arch this week examining stains on the monument’s stainless steel exterior surface.

The engineers plan to descend from the hatch at the top of the 630-foot-tall Arch and use a rope system to descend down the north leg to an area about 425 feet above the ground where they will collect samples that could  help determine the best way to clean the monument.

Representatives of the National Park Service, Great Rivers Greenway, the City of St. Louis and the CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation break ground on the next phase of the CityArchRiver 2015 renovations.
Rebecca Smith/St. Louis Public Radio

The next round of renovations for the Gateway Arch grounds has begun.  On Thursday, representatives from the National Park Service, the City of St. Louis and other supporting organizations were on hand for the groundbreaking.

CityArchRiver 2015 renovations are geared toward making the grounds more accessible and enjoyable for all visitors.  

Steve Pozaric
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Fair Saint Louis Foundation and the city of St. Louis announced Wednesday that Fair St. Louis 2015 would be returning to Forest Park. The fair was held in the same location this year. New General Chairman Steve Pozaric hopes to top this year’s estimated attendance of 250,000 people. He attributes the draw to the fair’s rich history.

National Park Service / Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Had things gone differently in 1947, instead of the majestic stainless steel Gateway Arch that is recognized around the world, St. Louis could have a rectangular stone gate standing tall on the riverfront today.

Or, a large, abstract monument signifying … something. 

Other suggestions proposed for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial included towering pylons and bridges. 

Yoga, Beer Enthusiasts Come Together In St. Louis

Aug 8, 2014
File Photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Yoga is supposed to take place in a quiet, secluded studio with peaceful music, right? Maybe not in St. Louis. Lately, yoga groups have been meeting in breweries, on paddleboards and under the Gateway Arch.

Yoga Buzz STL introduces yogis to local craft beer and wine, and introduces beer and wine fans to yoga. It is an hour-long all-levels yoga class followed by a tasting at the brewery.

Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

A major step in the Gateway Arch grounds renovation is taking place this weekend, causing road closures and detours in downtown St. Louis.

Working around the clock from Friday night until Monday morning, Missouri Department of Transportation crews are placing 40 large girders over the depressed lanes of I-44. It’s the first step in building the land bridge that will connect downtown St. Louis with the Arch grounds.

The CityArchRiver Foundation

The St. Louis Gateway Arch is this city’s signature monument. It defines the city’s place in American history and for nearly half a century has stood as one of the nation’s architectural points of pride and engineering ingenuity.

File photo

A state-run board has signed off on using tax credits to help cover the cost of renovating a museum on the grounds of the Gateway Arch.

The Missouri Development Finance Board voted via conference call Tuesday for up to $15 million in incentives, which would be used to cover half the cost of private donations that total around $30 million. Those donations and the incentives would go toward renovating the Museum of Westward Expansion beneath the Gateway Arch. 

The CityArchRiver Foundation

Vice President Biden visited St. Louis earlier this week to view the improvement project underway on the grounds of the Gateway Arch. He said the project was a model of public-private partnership.

But how is the project coming along? CityArchRiver Communications Director Ryan McClure appeared on St. Louis on the Air today to give an update on the project’s progress.

The Arch from below
St. Louis Public Radio

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will be in town Tuesday afternoon to visit the grounds of the Gateway Arch and check out the CityArchRiver project.

The project includes the long-awaited “lid” over the interstate highway section that now cuts off the Arch from the rest of downtown, including the historic Old Courthouse. The aim is to create a picturesque greenway.

Jason Rosenbaum/St. Louis Public Radio

Right after CityArchRiver 2015 Foundation had announced its latest tally in private funding to spruce up the Gateway Arch grounds, sportscaster Joe Buck helped push the total a little higher.

Buck told patrons lunching in Ballpark Village that the group was within $20 of raising an even $178,210,000. He managed to coax somebody wearing a Chicago Blackhawks jersey to hand over $100, prompting the room full of St. Louis Blues fans to cheer.   

Buck – who helped emcee CityArchRiver’s event announcing the fundraising figure – said he was impressed by the project’s progress.

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