52 Looks Good on You, Gateway Arch!
Where does the time go? On Saturday, Oct. 28, the Gateway Arch turns 52 years old. For more than five decades, the nation’s tallest manmade monument has beckoned millions of visitors to downtown St. Louis, and has inspired millions more with its unique design.
We have a feeling 52 is going to be a great year for the Arch – next summer, renovations to the Arch’s museum will be completed and its museum will re-open just in time for Fair Saint Louis.
Although we love looking toward the future, it’s always nice to experience a blast from the past. Here, we’ll revisit some important dates in the Gateway Arch’s storied history.
- 1933: Civic leader Luther Ely Smith conceived the idea for a Mississippi Riverfront park in downtown St. Louis that honored St. Louis’ role in the westward expansion of the U.S., while revitalizing the riverfront and stimulating the economy.
- 1935: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (JNEM) was created through a presidential proclamation and became a unit of the National Park Service.
- 1948: Architect Eero Saarinen’s design of a stainless steel Arch, named “Gateway to the West,” won the architectural competition to design Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Eero’s father, Eliel Saarinen, also had competed in the competition.
- 1959: On June 23, 1959, St. Louis celebrated with a groundbreaking for the memorial.
- 1961: Excavations for the Arch’s foundations began.
- 1962: The Bi-State Development Agency was asked to finance the $2-million tram system that would take visitors to and from the top of the Arch. They did so by selling revenue bonds, which allowed trams to open in 1967.
- 1963: Construction on the Arch began on February 12, 1963.
- 1965: The final section was placed and the Arch was completed on October 28, 1965.
- 1967: The Arch Visitor Center opened to the public and visitors took their first ride on the north trams.
- 1976: The Museum of Westward Expansion opened to the public.
- 2013: The CityArchRiver project broke ground.
- 2015: The renovated Luther Ely Smith Square re-opened to the public.
- 2016: The renovated Gateway Arch park grounds and Mississippi Riverfront re-opened to the public.
- 2017: The renovated Kiener Plaza re-opened to the public.
- 2018: The CityArchRiver project will be officially completed with the grand opening of the completely re-imagined Gateway Arch Museum.
Photo credit: National Park Service