The Gateway Arch: Architectural Wonder & ‘Example Of Failed Urban Planning’ | St. Louis Public Radio

The Gateway Arch: Architectural Wonder & ‘Example Of Failed Urban Planning’

Oct 26, 2015

Originally published July 1, 2013 — Author and historian Tracy Campbell views the Gateway Arch as an architectural wonder which draws millions of tourists to St. Louis, though he also argues the landmark is “an example of failed urban planning.”

To make way for the monument, nearly forty square blocks of riverfront property were demolished.  The demolition began during a public ceremony on October 9, 1939.

City leaders only gained traction for the project once it was framed as a monument to President Thomas Jefferson.

While architect Eero Saarinen envisioned the Gateway Arch in 1947, it wasn’t completed until the mid-1960s.

Host Don Marsh talked with Tracy Campbell about his new book, “The Gateway Arch: A Biography.”  Campbell is a professor of history and co-director of the Wendell Ford Public Policy Research Center at the University of Kentucky.

“No structure quite like it had ever been built before,” Campbell said.  “It’s like going to the moon, and I found myself thinking, this was kind of a space-age project. Let’s get started and let’s let the engineers and someone else figure it out as we go.”

During the conversation, they addressed such questions as:

  • What was there before?
  • Who benefited from its construction?
  • Who lost?
  • What could have been?