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# Gateway Arch

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### Gateway Arch

Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch in January 2008
Alternative names Gateway to the West, St. Louis Arch
General information
Architectural style Structural expressionism[1]
Location Memorial Drive, St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Coordinates
Construction started February 12, 1963
Completed October 28, 1965
Inaugurated May 25, 1968
Cost US$13 million (c.$97,300,000 today[2])
Height 630 ft (192 m)
Design and construction
Architect Eero Saarinen
Architecture firm Saarinen and Associates
Structural engineer
Governing body National Park Service
NRHP Reference # 87001423
Significant dates
Added to NRHP May 28, 1987[3]
Designated NHL May 28, 1987[4]
Main contractor Mcddsa

The Gateway Arch is a 630-foot (192 m) tall monument in St. Louis, in the U.S. state of Missouri. Clad in stainless steel and built in the form of a flattened catenary arch,[5] it is the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere,[6] Missouri's tallest accessible building, and the world's tallest arch.[4] Built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States,[5] it is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and has become an internationally famous symbol of St. Louis.

The arch sits at the site of St. Louis' founding on the west bank of the Mississippi River.[7][8][9]

The Gateway Arch was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and German-American structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel in 1947. Construction began on February 12, 1963, and was completed on October 28, 1965,[10][11] at a total cost of US$13 million[12] ($97,300,000 in 2015[2]). The monument opened to the public on June 10, 1967.[13]

## Contents

• Background 1
• Inception and early funding (1933–1935) 1.1
• Land acquisition, opposition, demolition, and early railroad negotiations (1936–1939) 1.2
• Design competition (1945–1948) 1.3
• Amendment of railroad agreement and authorization (1953–1958) 1.5
• Zoning, start of railroad move, and appropriation (1959–1968) 1.6
• Construction 2
• Delays and lawsuits 2.1
• Topping out and dedication 2.2
• Aftermath 2.3
• Characteristics 3
• Physical characteristics 3.1
• Mathematical elements 3.2
• Lighting 3.3
• Public access 4
• Visitor center 4.1
• Observation area 4.2
• Modes of ascension 4.2.1
• Incidents 4.2.2
• Stunts and accidents 4.3
• 1980 accident 4.3.1
• 1992 stunt 4.3.2
• Security 4.4
• Symbolism and culture 5
• Awards and recognitions 5.1
• Maintenance 6
• Fiftieth Anniversary 7
• Notes 9
• References 10
• Footnotes 10.1
• Bibliography 10.2

## Background

### Inception and early funding (1933–1935)

Around late 1933, civic leader Vincennes, Indiana, beheld the crumbling St. Louis riverfront area and envisioned that building a memorial there would both revive the riverfront and stimulate the economy.[14][15] He communicated his idea to mayor Bernard Dickmann, who on December 15, 1933, raised it in a meeting with city leaders. They sanctioned the proposal, and the nonprofit Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association (JNEMA—pronounced "Jenny May")[16] was formed. Smith was appointed chairman and Dickmann vice chairman. The association's goal was to create:[14]

A suitable and permanent public memorial to the men who made possible the western territorial expansion of the United States, particularly President Jefferson, his aides Livingston and Monroe, the great explorers, Lewis and Clark, and the hardy hunters, trappers, frontiersmen and pioneers who contributed to the territorial expansion and development of these United States, and thereby to bring before the public of this and future generations the history of our development and induce familiarity with the patriotic accomplishments of these great builders of our country.

Many locals did not approve of depleting public funds for the cause. SaLees, Smith's daughter, related that when "people would tell him we needed more practical things", he would respond that "spiritual things" were equally important.[16]

The association expected that $30 million would be needed to undertake the construction of such a monument. It called upon the federal government to foot three-fourths of the bill ($22.5 million).[16]

The St. Louis riverfront after demolition

The suggestion to renew the riverfront was not original, as previous projects were attempted but lacked popularity. The Jefferson memorial idea emerged amid the economic disarray of the Bennett Champ Clark and Representative John Cochran introduced to Congress an appropriation bill seeking $30 million for the memorial, but the bill failed to garner support due to the large amount of money solicited. In March of the same year, joint resolutions proposed the establishment of a federal commission to develop the memorial. Although the proposal aimed for only authorization, the bill incurred opposition because people suspected that JNEMA would later seek appropriation. On March 28 the Senate bill was reported out, and on April 5 it was turned over to the House Library Committee, which later reported favorably on the bills. On June 8, both the Senate and House bills were passed. On June 15, then President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill into law, instituting the United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission. The commission comprised 15 members, chosen by Roosevelt, the House, the Senate, and JNEMA. It first convened on December 19 in St. Louis, where members examined the project and its planned location.[14] Meanwhile, in December, the JNEMA discussed organizing an architectural competition to determine the design of the monument. Local architect Louis LeBeaume had drawn up competition guidelines by January 1935.[14] On April 13, 1935, the commission certified JNEMA's project proposals, including memorial perimeters, the "historical significance" of the memorial, the competition, and the$30 million budget.[14] Between February and April, the Missouri State Legislature passed an act allowing the use of bonds to facilitate the project. On April 15, then Governor Guy B. Park signed it into law. Dickmann and Smith applied for funding from two New Deal agencies—the Public Works Administration (headed by Harold Ickes) and the Works Progress Administration (headed by Harry Hopkins). On August 7, both Ickes and Hopkins assented to the funding requests, each promising $10,000,000, and said that the National Park Service (NPS) would manage the memorial.[18] A local bond issue election granting$7.5 million for the memorial's development was held on September 10 and passed.[14][17]

On December 21, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 7253[15] to approve the memorial,[19] allocating the 82-acre area as the first National Historic Site.[15][16][18] The order also appropriated $3.3 million through the WPA and$3.45 million through the PWA[20] ($6,750,000 in total).[17] The motivation of the project was twofold—commemorating westward expansion and creating jobs.[14] Some taxpayers began to file suits to impede the monument, which they called a "boondoggle".[16] ### Land acquisition, opposition, demolition, and early railroad negotiations (1936–1939) Using the 1935 grant of$6.75 million and $2.25 million in city bonds,[17] the NPS acquired the buildings within the historic site—through condemnation rather than purchase—and demolished them. By September 1938, condemnation was complete. The condemnation was subject to many legal disputes which culminated on January 27, 1939, when the United States Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that condemnation was valid. A total of$6.2 million was distributed to land owners on June 14.[15] Demolition commenced on October 10, 1939, when Dickmann extracted three bricks from a vacant warehouse.[21]

Led by Paul Peters, adversaries of the memorial delivered to Congress a leaflet titled "Public Necessity or Just Plain Pork". The JNEMA's lawyer, Bon Geaslin, believed that the flyers did not taint the project, but motivated members of Congress to find out more about the same. Although Representative John Cochran wanted to ask Congress to approve more funds, Geaslin believed the association should "keep a low profile, maintaining its current position during this session of Congress". He advised the association to "get a good strong editorial in one of the papers to the effect that a small group of tenants ... is soliciting funds [to fight] the proposed improvement, and stating that these efforts do not represent the consensus of opinion in St. Louis ..., and pointing out that such obstructions should be condemned".[21]

Congress's reduction in spending made it impossible for the allocated funds to be obtained. NPS responded that the city would reduce its contribution if the federal government did. It also asserted that the funds were sanctioned by an executive order, but superintendent John Nagle pointed out that what "one Executive Order does, another can undo". In March 1936, Representative Cochran commented during a House meeting that he "would not vote for any measure providing for building the memorial or allotting funds to it". Geaslin found Cochran's statements to be a greater hindrance to the project than Paul Peters' opposition, for Congress might have Cochran's opinions as representative of public opinion.[21]

Peters and other opponents asked Roosevelt to rescind Executive Order 7253 and to redirect the money to the American Red Cross. Smith impugned their motives, accusing them of being "opposed to anything that is ever advanced in behalf of the city."[21] In February 1936, an editorial written by Paul W. Ward in The Nation denounced the project.[22] Smith was infuriated, fearing the impact of attacks from a prestigious magazine, and wanted "to jump on it strong with hammer and tongs". William Allen White, a renowned newspaper editor, advised Smith not to fret.[21]

Because the Mississippi River played an essential role in establishing St. Louis' identity as the gateway to the west, a memorial commemorating it should be near the river. Railroad tracks that had been constructed in the 1930s on the levee obstructed views of the riverfront from the memorial site.[15] When Ickes declared that the railway must be removed before he would allocate funds for the memorial,[21] President of the St. Louis Board of Public Service Baxter Brown suggested that "a new tunnel ... conceal the relocated tracks and re-grading of the site to elevate it over the tunnel. These modifications would eliminate the elevated and surface tracks and open up the views to the river."[15] Although rejected by NPS architect Charles Peterson, Brown's proposal formed the basis for the ultimate settlement.[21]

### Design competition (1945–1948)

... [T]he steel monument one sees today—carbon steel on the interior, stainless steel on the exterior, and concrete in-filling, with an equilateral-triangle-shaped section that tapers from 54 to 17 feet at the top, and the concept of a skin that is also structure—is in essence [Saarinen's] competition design.[23]

Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future, 2006

In November 1944, Smith discussed with Newton Drury, the National Park Service Director, the design of the memorial, asserting that the memorial should be "transcending in spiritual and aesthetic values," best represented by "one central feature: a single shaft, a building, an arch, or something else that would symbolize American culture and civilization."[24]

The idea of an architectural competition to determine the design of the memorial was favored at the JNEMA's inaugural meeting. They planned to award cash for the best design.[16] In January 1945, the JNEMA officially announced a two-stage design competition that would cost $225,000 to organize. Smith and the JNEMA struggled to raise the funds, garnering only a third of the required total by June 1945.[1] Then mayor Aloys Kaufmann feared that the lack of public support would lead officials to abandon hope in the project. The passage of a year brought little success, and Smith frantically underwrote the remaining$40,000 in May 1946. By June, Smith found others to assume portions of his underwriting, with $17,000 remaining under his sponsorship. In February 1947, the underwriters were compensated, and the fund stood over$231,199.[24]

Local architect Louis LaBeaume prepared a set of specifications for the design, and architect Charles Nagel Jr., Richard Neutra, Roland Wank, William Wurster, LaBeaume, Fiske Kimball, and S. Herbert Hare.[26] The competition comprised two stages—the first to narrow down the designers to five and the second to single out one architect and his design.[24] The design intended to include:[27]

"(a) an architectural memorial or memorials to Jefferson; dealing (b) with preservation of the site of Old St. Louis—landscaping, provision of an open-air campfire theater, reerection or reproduction of a few typical old buildings, provision of a Museum interpreting the Westward movement; (c) a living memorial to Jefferson's 'vision of greater opportunities for men of all races and creeds;' (d) recreational facilities, both sides of the river; and (e) parking facilities, access, relocation of railroads, placement of an interstate highway."
Saarinen working with a model of the arch in 1957

Saarinen's team included himself as designer, J. Henderson Barr as associate designer, and Dan Kiley as landscape architect, as well as Lily Swann Saarinen as sculptor and Alexander Girard as painter. In the first stage of the competition, Carl Milles advised Saarinen to change the bases of each leg to triangles instead of squares. Saarinen said that he "worked at first with mathematical shapes, but finally adjusted it according to the eye." At submission, Saarinen's plans laid out the arch at 509 feet (155 m) tall and 592 feet (180 m) wide from center to center of the triangle bases.[23]

On September 1, 1947, submissions for the first stage were received by the jury. The submissions were labeled by numbers only, and the names of the designers were kept anonymous. Upon four days of deliberation, the jury narrowed down the 172 submissions, which included Saarinen's father Eliel,[25] to five finalists, and announced the corresponding numbers to the media on September 27. Saarinen's design (#144) was among the finalists, and comments written on it included "relevant, beautiful, perhaps inspired would be the right word" (Roland Wank) and "an abstract form peculiarly happy in its symbolism" (Charles Nagel). Hare questioned the feasibility of the design but appreciated the thoughtfulness behind it.[24] Local St. Louis architect Harris Armstrong was also one of the finalists.[28] The secretary who sent out the telegrams informing finalists of their advancement mistakenly sent one to Eliel rather than Eero. The family celebrated with champagne, and two hours later, a competition representative called to correct the mistake. Eliel "'broke out a second bottle of champagne' to toast his son."[25]

They proceeded to the second stage, and each was given a $10,000 prize. Saarinen changed the height of the arch from 580 feet to 630 feet (190 m) (he would also change the width of the arch to match its height) and wrote that the arch symbolized "the gateway to the West, the national expansion, and whatnot."[23] He wanted the landscape surrounding the arch to "be so densely covered with trees that it will be a forest-like park, a green retreat from the tension of the downtown city," according to The New York Times architectural critic Aline Bernstein Louchheim[2] The deadline for the second stage arrived on February 10, 1948, and on February 18, the jury chose Saarinen's design unanimously,[24] praising its "profoundly evocative and truly monumental expression."[31] The following day,[26] during a formal dinner at Statler Hotel that the finalists and the media attended, Wurster pronounced Saarinen the winner of the competition and awarded the checks—$40,000 to his team[23] and $50,000 to Saarinen.[32] The competition was the first major architectural design that Saarinen developed unaided by his father.[24] On May 25, the United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission endorsed the design.[26] Later, in June, the NPS approved the proposal.[23] Representative H. R. Gross, however, opposed the allocation of federal funds for the arch's development.[33] The design drew varied responses. In a February 29, 1948, The New York Times article, Louchheim praised the arch's design as "a modern monument, fitting, beautiful and impressive."[34] Some local residents likened it to a "stupendous hairpin and a stainless steel hitching post." The most aggressive criticism emerged from Gilmore D. Clarke,[35] whose February 26, 1948,[16] letter compared Saarinen's arch to an arch imagined by fascist Benito Mussolini, rendering the arch a fascist symbol. This allegation of plagiarism ignited fierce debates among architects about its validity. Douglas Haskell from New York wrote that "The use of a common form is not plagiarism.... [T]his particular accusation amounts to the filthiest smear that has been attempted by a man highly placed in the architectural profession in our generation."[16] Wurster and the jury refuted the charges, arguing that "the arch form was not inherently fascist but was indeed part of the entire history of architecture."[31] Saarinen considered the opposition absurd, asserting, "It's just preposterous to think that a basic form, based on a completely natural figure, should have any ideological connection."[35] By January 1951, Saarinen created 21 "drawings, including profiles of the Arch, scale drawings of the museums and restaurants, various parking proposals, the effect of the levee-tunnel railroad plan on the Arch footings, the Arch foundations, the Third Street Expressway, and the internal and external structure of the Arch." Fred Severud made calculations for the arch's structure.[36] ### Railroad agreement (1949–1952) Several proposals were offered for moving the railroad tracks, including: • Bates-Ross. Tracks would cross the memorial site diagonally in a tunnel. • Bowen. Similar to Bates-Ross proposal. • Hill-Tunnel. Supported by Saarinen and NPS engineer Julian Spotts, it would route the tracks in a tunnel below Second and First Streets. Saarinen further said that if the tracks passed between the memorial and the river, he would withdraw his participation. • La Beaume-Terminal. Opposed by Saarinen and the NPS, it would lay "three tracks on a contained fill along the lines of the elevated tracks." • Levee-Tunnel. Proposed by Frank J. McDevitt, president of the St. Louis Board of Public Service, it would lower the tracks into a tunnel concealed by walls and landscaping. On July 7, 1949, in Mayor Joseph Darst's office, city officials chose the Levee-Tunnel plan, rousing JNEMA members who held that the decision had been pressed through when Smith was away on vacation. Darst notified Secretary of the Interior Julius Krug of the city's selection. Krug planned to meet with Smith and JNEM but canceled the meeting and resigned on November 11. His successor, Oscar L. Chapman, rescheduled the meeting for December 5 in Washington with delegates from the city government, JNEM, railroad officials, and Federal government. A day after the conference, they ratified a memorandum of understanding about the plan: "The five tracks on the levee would be replaced by three tracks, one owned by the Missouri Pacific Railroad (MPR) and two by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis (TRRA) proceeding through a tunnel not longer than 3,000 feet. The tunnel would be approximately fifty feet west of the current elevated line." It would also have an overhead clearance of 18 feet (5.5 m), lower than the regular requirement of 22 feet (6.7 m). Chapman approved the document on December 22, 1949, and JNEM garnered the approval of the Missouri Public Service Commission on August 7, 1952.[36] Efforts to appropriate congressional funds began in January 1950 but were delayed until 1953 by the Korean War's depletion of federal funds.[36] ### Amendment of railroad agreement and authorization (1953–1958) In August 1953, Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton declared that the Department of the Interior and the railroads should finalize the agreement on the new route. In October, NPS and the TRRA decided that the TRRA would employ a surveyor endorsed by Spotts "to survey, design, estimate, and report on" the expenses of shifting the tracks. They chose Alfred Benesch and Associates, which released its final report on May 3, 1957. The firm estimated the that two proposals would cost more than expected: more than$11 million and $14 million, respectively. NPS director Conrad Wirth enjoined Saarinen to make small modifications to the design. In October, Saarinen redrafted the plans, suggesting:[37] [the placement of] the five sets of railroad tracks into a shortened tunnel 100 feet west of the trestle, with the tracks being lowered sixteen feet. This did not mean that the memorial would be cut off from the river, however, for Saarinen provided a 960-foot-long (290 m) tunnel to be placed over the railroad where a "grand staircase" rose from the levee to the Arch. At the north and south ends of the park, 150-foot tunnels spanned the tracks, and led to the overlook museum, restaurant, and stairways down to the levee. Saarinen designed a subterranean visitor center the length of the distance between the legs, to include two theaters and an entrance by inward-sloping ramps. On November 29, involved interests signed another memorandum of understanding approving Saarinen's rework; implementing it would cost about$5.053 million. On March 10, 1959, mayor Raymond Tucker proposed that they drop "the tunnel idea in favor of open cuts roofed with concrete slabs," which would cost $2.684 million,$1.5 million less than the cost of the approved plan. On May 12, 1958, Tucker, TRRA president Armstrong Chinn, and Missouri Pacific Railroad president Russell Dearmont entered a written agreement: "The TRRA would place $500,000 in escrow for the project, and the city [would] sell$980,000 of the 1935 bonds to match the Federal contribution." Director Wirth and Secretary Seaton approved the plan on June 2.[37]

In July 1953, Representative Leonor Sullivan introduced H.R. 6549, a bill authorizing the allocation of no more than $5 million to build the arch. After much negotiation, both houses of Congress approved the bill in May 1954, and on May 18, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law as Public Law 361. Congress could not afford to appropriate the funds in 1955, so association president William Crowdus resorted to asking the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations for$10 million. The foundations denied the request because their function as private foundations did not include funding national memorials. In 1956, Congress appropriated $2.64 million to be used to move the railroad tracks. The remainder of the authorized appropriation was requested via six congressional bills, introduced on July 1, 1958, that revised Public Law 361 to encompass the cost of the entire memorial, increasing federal funds by$12.25 million. A month later the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of the Budget endorsed the bill, and both houses of Congress unanimously passed the bill. Eisenhower signed it into law on September 7. The NPS held off on appropriating the additional funds, as it planned to use the already-appropriated funds to initiate the railroad work.[37]

### Zoning, start of railroad move, and appropriation (1959–1968)

Saarinen and city functionaries collaborated to zone buildings near the arch. In April 1959, real estate developer Lewis Kitchen decided to construct two 40-level edifices across from the arch. In July, after the plan was condemned for its potential obstruction of the arch, Kitchen discussed the issue with officials. A decision was delayed for several months because Saarinen had yet to designate the arch's height, projected between 590 and 630 feet (180 and 190 m). By October, Mayor Tucker and Director Wirth resolved to restrict the height of buildings opposite the arch to 275 feet (84 m) (about 27 levels), and the city stated that plans for buildings opposite the arch would require its endorsement. Kitchen then decreased the height of his buildings, while Saarinen increased that of the arch.[38]

Moving the railroad tracks was the first stage of the project. On May 6, 1959, after an official conference, the Public Service Commission called for ventilation to accompany the tunnel's construction, which entailed "placing 3,000 feet of dual tracks into a tunnel 105 feet west of the elevated railroad, along with filling, grading, and trestle work." Eight bids for the work were reviewed on June 8 in the Old Courthouse, and the MacDonald Construction Co. of St. Louis[5] won with a bid of $2,426,115, less than NPS' estimate of the cost. At 10:30 a.m. on June 23, 1959, the groundbreaking ceremony occurred; Tucker spaded the first portion of earth. Wirth and Dickmann delivered speeches.[38] The NPS acquired the$500,000 in escrow and transferred it to MacDonald to begin building the new tracks. In August, demolition of the Old Rock House[3] was complete, with workers beginning to excavate the tunnel. In November, they began shaping the tunnel's walls with concrete. Twenty-nine percent of the construction was completed by March and 95% by November. On November 17, trains began to use the new tracks. June 1962 was the projected date of fruition.[38]

On May 16, 1959, the Senate appropriations subcommittee received from St. Louis legislators a request for $2.4911 million, of which it granted only$133,000. Wirth recommended that they reseek the funds in January 1960.[38]

On March 10, 1959, Regional Director Howard Baker received $888,000 as the city's first subsidy for the project. On December 1, 1961,$23,003,150 in total had been authorized, with $19,657,483 already appropriated—$3,345,667 remained not yet appropriated.[38]

## Construction

The bidding date, originally December 20, 1961, was postponed to January 22, 1962, to clarify the details of the arch construction.[4] About 50 companies that had requested the construction requirements received bidding invitations. Extending from $11,923,163 to$12,765,078, all four bids exceeded the engineer estimate of \$8,067,000. Wirth had a committee led by

• Official website
• Gateway Arch Construction Photographs collections at the University of Missouri–St. Louis
• The City + The Arch + The River
• 360 Degree Panorama of the Gateway Arch Taken from Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, East St. Louis, IL