A Look Back: the Gateway Arch
Date: 10/23/2009 Album ID: 872146
Photos by Post-Dispatch staff photographers
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Historical photos of the construction and early days of the Gateway Arch, one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks. Completed on October 28, 1967, the monument to western expansion was a creation by architect Eero Saarinen.
May 24, 1938----The St. Louis riverfront, looking south from the Eads Bridge on a dreary May 24, 1938. City voters already had passed a $7 million bond issue to clear the old commercial buildings for a sweeping memorial to Thomas Jefferson. (Almost three decades later, it would become the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and its signature Gateway Arch.) U.S. Interior Secretary Harold Ickes warned that the city would have to get rid of the old railroad trestle along Wharf Street before it could spend any federal money on the project. (Post-Dispatch)
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July 9. 1939---Another view of the riverfront commercial area on July 9, 1939, three months before demolition finally began to clear land for the memorial expanse. It is the land of the original village of St. Louis and the warehouse district for steamboat days. A Post-Dispatch feature story noted that 310 of the 486 buildings in the 40-block area are vacant or only partly in use. It is the forgotten city of yesterday, the reporter wrote. (Post-Dispatch)
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July, 1939--- The old Nichols-Howard building at Wharf and Locust streets. Built in 1847, it survived the great fire that consumed so much of the riverfront district two years later. Hobo shanties are in the vacant lot at right. (Post-Dispatch)
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Oct. 20, 1939----Workers demolish an old building at 20-22 Commercial Street, one of the first to be razed for the memorial. The scene is from Oct. 20, 1939. The site now is that of the grand staircase to the Arch. A few blocks of Commercial still exist in Laclede's Landing. (Post-Dispatch)
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Architect Eero Saarinen studies models of his design for an arch on Sept. 19, 1960. He died one year later, never seeing his any part of his arch rise from the ground. (Renyold Ferguson/Post-Dispatch)
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An aerial view of the cleared riverfront and downtown in 1961, before construction began on the arch. Much of it had been used for downtown parking since the 1940s. Note the old S.S. Admiral excursion steamer, moored at right. (Post-Dispatch)
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Workers prepare to pour the first bucket of concrete on June 27, 1962, for the south leg of the arch. (Renyold Ferguson/Post-Dispatch)
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Kenneth Kolkmeier, project manager for Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co. (PDM), directs the setting of one of the first triangular arch pieces onto a flatcar that will take it to the work site. PDM won the contract to fabricate the stainless-steel wedges and build the arch. Kolkmeier, then 31, had grown up in St. Charles. The photograph ran with a feature story on May 5, 1963. The first steel wedge was installed on Feb. 12, 1963. (Post-Dispatch)
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A crane swings a completed piece for placement onto a flatcar for the short ride to the arch leg. Welders assembled the triangular pieces by joining prefabricated flat sections that had been delivered to the site. This photo also ran May 5, 1963. (Post-Dispatch)
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A bulldozer serves as locomotive to pull a completed piece along temporary train tracks to the arch legs.  Story ran in Pictures in May of 1963.  (Post-Dispatch)
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Oct., 1963----A bulldozer serves as a locomotive to pull a completed piece along temporary train tracks to the arch legs. (Post-Dispatch)
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Landmarks Association tried to send a tethered cluster of helium balloons aloft on May 4, 1964, and hold them at 630 feet to show people how high the arch would be. But high winds thwarted the idea. (Floyd Bowser/Post-Dispatch)
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A crane lifts a section to raise the north leg to 300 feet on July 1, 1964. (Post-Dispatch)
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SaLees Smith Seddon pours water taken from the source of the Mississippi River and its mouth into the last batch of concrete that would be poured into the rising south leg of the arch. Workers stopped pouring reinforcing concrete into the interior walls of the arch at 300 feet. With her during this ceremony on Aug. 19, 1964, are (from left) her brother, Luther Ely Smith Jr.; William W. Crowdus, chairman of the Jefferson National Expansion memorial Association; and James M. Douglas, a member of the U.S. Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission. Smith and Seddon were children of Luther Ely Smith Sr., who promoted the idea of the riverfront memorial in the 1930s. Seddon also was chairwoman of the Women's St. Louis Bicentennial Committee. (Post-Dispatch)
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Workers use a long-handle wrench in September 1964 to torque down a heavy nut attaching a support for the creeper-derrick track on the north leg. As the arch legs rose, workers would bolt more track onto them so the derricks could rise with the progress of their work. On the way back down, they filled and polished the bolt holes so they are hard to notice. (Post-Dispatch)
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Sept. 1964-----A worker threads wedges onto the ends of reinforcement bars that run through the interior walls of the arch. This work is being done at the 300-foot level. The wedges would allow powerful hydraulic jacks to grab the reinforcement bars and stretch them to a tension of 71 tons to strengthen the arch. (Post-Dispatch)
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Workers pour some of the last concrete into the north leg in September 1964. Note the depressed lanes of Interstate 70 under construction. Back then, the route still was called the Third Street Highway. (Post-Dispatch)
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The crane installs the first piece on the north leg above the 300-foot level in September 1964. (Lloyd Spainhower/Post-Dispatch)
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What view? A worker prepares more reinforcement rods for hydraulic stretching in September 1964. (Arthur Witman/Post-Dispatch)
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The south leg rises in the background of Hop Alley, part of St. Louis' old Chinatown, in February 1965. The once-thriving district, bounded roughly by Market, Walnut, Seventh and Eighth streets, soon would give way to the second Busch Stadium and its parking. (Buehll White/Post-Dispatch)
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