The Gateway Arch in St. Louis Gets Multi-Million Dollar Revamp
The Gateway Arch, the marquee tourist attraction of St. Louis, Missouri, is looking like a million bucks. Actually, make that $380 million.
That's the total price tag of a complete overhaul of the 91-acre National Park on which the 630-foot stainless steel monument stands. The multi-million dollar undertaking has refreshed everything from the landmark's entrance to the park's museum on the settlement of the Western US, to the grounds' verdant landscape — and even partially rerouted a highway that used to buzz across the park's interior.
The only thing that wasn't refurbished as part of the effort, dubbed the City River Arch Project, was the Arch itself.
“We didn’t touch the arch,” Eric Moraczewski, the executive director of the Gateway Park Foundation, told USA Today. “What we did is improve the environment around it.” That area is now replete with lush landscape in the middle of downtown St. Louis that stretches from the Arch to the city's historic Old Courthouse and borders the banks of the mighty Mississippi River.
"The Gateway Arch is a monument that is known around the world as one of the great monuments that has ever been built,” Moraczewski added. “We weren’t here to touch our great historical architectural feat.”
The grounds now have 2,400 more trees, along with new walking and bike paths that wind through the park. Project developers even razed a parking garage on the property's riverfront to make way for an additional 7.5 acres of green space.
There is a new land bridge that stretches over Interstate 44, whose traffic used to thunder through the Arch grounds. Now, there is "Park Over the Highway," which is like a well-kept lawn that stretches over the traffic and completely muffles the cars' cacophony.
“It’s really a new connection to the city,” Moraczewski said. “We had multiple lanes of traffic people had to cross, and what we had a lot of times was people hiring taxis just to get to the arch grounds.”
The Arch's museum space also got a significant revamp. Its square footage was increased by about one third to a total of 150,000 square feet. The brand new exhibits tell St. Louis' history from its beginnings as an 18th century outpost for French fur traders to the present day, as well as the city's past as a starting point for settlers heading to the Western US. The best part? The museum is free to all visitors.
“We’re telling the story of why St. Louis is here and why it was important and why it was a jumping off point for so many settlers west of here, so people can understand why this historic monument is sitting where it is,” Moraczewski said of the museum.
The Arch was completed on October 28, 1965, and was designed by architect Eero Saarinen. The property was renamed the Gateway Arch National Park earlier this year. It was first called Jefferson National Expansion Memorial from its founding in 1935.
The grand re-opening of the revamped park is July 3.
H/T: USA Today