Gateway Arch: The Westward Experience
Situated downtown on the riverfront in St. Louis, Missouri, sits The Gateway Arch, a grand, luminous, stainless steel monument that symbolizes Missouri’s role as the ‘Gateway to the West’. Overlooking the Mississippi River, the Arch is a popular tourist attraction and one of the most well known landmarks in Missouri. Each year four million visitors come to lay eyes on this world famous structure. I will elaborate on the Arch’s significance, history, and construction. In 1947, the design for the Gateway Arch by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and structural engineer Dr. Hannskarl Bandel was unanimously chosen from 147 entries in an architectural competition. For his design, Saarinen won $225,000. Saarinen’s design of the Arch was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s vision of freedom and democracy for explorers and pioneers. The Arch was also to be used as a monument to honor the Louisiana Purchase, the establishment of the Basilica of St. Louis, and the Dred Scott Case. The Gateway Arch along with the St. Louis Old Courthouse and the Museum of Westward Expansion make up the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The Arch design was shaped to resemble a structure known as a catenary curve, the shape a free-hanging chain takes when held at both ends, but inverted.The geometric form of the Arch was made by this mathematical equation: , with the constants . Unfortunately, Saarinen did not live to see his masterpiece come to life; he died from a brain tumor on September 1, 1961, before construction of the Arch began. Although the Arch was designed in 1947, construction did not begin until February 12, 1963 due to a lack of funds, World War II and the beginning of the Korean War. The total cost to build the Arch was $13 million. Over the next two years and eight months, many construction workers worked tediously, at amazing heights above ground while enduring the sun’s rays to complete the...
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