Gateway Arch

St. Louis, once a great city

Before the Arch was built, St. Louis aspired to greatness through the early 1900s. It then began its long spiral downward. This once prosperous industrial city has seen most of its manufacturing leave and the population contract since the 1960s. Suburbanization, car-centered urban planning, racism, and very painful economic restructuring completely changed this community. The city’s leadership and the corporate owners of the St. Louis Cardinals still managed to build a new baseball stadium for the beloved Redbirds downtown. I still love this city, despite having completely opposite feelings growing up there.

You can track the demographic changes in St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the surrounding bi-state area on this very informative interactive map. You can also read how eminent domain and the freeway system destroyed neighborhoods and fragmented the city. The Arch, that great structure I love so dearly, was part of this process that leveled entire blocks.

Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.

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The St. Louis Arch, inside looking out

The Gateway Arch, in St. Louis, Mo., is one of the world’s greatest monuments. I grew up in its shadow, always in awe. The 630-foot steel structure, designed by genius architect Eero Saarinen, stands on the banks of the Mississippi River, as a monument to the country’s historic expansion into the West. Beneath the museum one can explore that story, including the impacts on Native Americans, at the National Park Service-run Museum of Westward Expansion. If you do not take a long elevator trip to the top, you can stand underneath it and gaze at is beautiful form. Surprisingly, I have yet to see this great structure destroyed in a Hollywood blockbuster¬†by marauding aliens, large monsters, or natural disasters. One day the Arch will get a starring role, I know.

I published a black and white version of this photo on my black and white photo gallery.