The Gateway Arch

Monument to History

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"A Massive Piece of Art"

Writer Phil Dotree said it best: “The Gateway Arch is the type of monument that every person should check out when they’re near St. Louis. It’s like the Empire State Building or

the Sears Tower, but it’s something more than that. The Arch isn’t just tall. It’s a massive piece of art, a symbol of exploration.” When people hear of St. Louis, they often think first of the Gateway Arch. It is one of the world’s great monuments. This amazing structure, four decades in the making, proudly represents important parts of our American history.

A Masterpiece a Long Time in the Making

The Gateway Arch had its beginnings in the middle of the 20th Century. During the Great Depression, attorney and civil leader Luther Ely Smith wanted to make a monument to restore the city’s riverfront area and boost tourism. From 1947-1948, a competition was held to choose the best design. Finnish-American Eero Saarinen was the architect, and Hanskaarl Bandel was the engineer ( Construction took place from 1962 through 1965 on what would become the tallest man-made monument in the United States.

A Challenging Project

The construction of the Gateway Arch was very challenging but successful. No one had ever tried to build such a large arch, and new construction methods had to be invented. It was built upwards from the ground from its two bases, one segment at a time. The lower segments were so large they had to be made in three parts and welded together at the site. Each large section was lifted into place and welded onto the previous section. A new kind of elevator system had to be designed and built inside the Arch. When completed, the monument was an arch, wider at the bases and becoming narrower as it reached its top and center, with 30 windows in its top sections.

A Symbol of Momentous History

The Gateway Arch represents three important parts of United States history. The Gateway Arch celebrates the Louisiana Purchase, which greatly expanded available land for settling westward. The Arch commemorates the first church west of the Mississippi in 1767. The Cathedral Basilica now stands on the land where the old church as built. The Cathedral Basilica is very close to the Gateway Arch. The monument also represents the Dredd Scott Supreme Court Decision of 1857. Dred Scott, a slave who had lived with his owner in a free state before returning to the slave state of Missouri, sued for his freedom and lost. This decision raised tensions throughout the country and helped lead to the Civil War. The Gateway Arch is actually a part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial on the banks of the Mississippi River.
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A World-Class Monument

The long labor of building the Gateway Arch created one of the greatest commemorations of our American history, as well as a massive piece of art. Without it, St. Louis just would not be the same city it is today. The words spoken by Vice-President Hubert Humphrey at the Arch’s inauguration are as true today as it was in the 1960’s when he said the Arch was “’a soaring curve in the sky that links the rich heritage of yesterday with the richer

future of tomorrow’ and brought ‘new purpose’ and a ‘new sense of urgency to wipe out every slum…Whatever is shoddy, whatever is ugly, whatever is waste, whatever is false, will be measured and condemned’ in comparison to the Gateway Arch.”


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