Friday, May 11, 2012

Yard Art. Well....On A Monumental Scale Anyway. Status: Ever Been?


I've always loved the Gateway Arch and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, even way WAY before I knew who Eero Saarinen was or what Modernism meant!  I've only been up to the top once and unfortunately it was all cloudy and foggy.  But I love just strolling the grounds.


Because of it's sheer size it's hard to see that the Gateway Arch is as wide as it is tall: 630 feet.

I'm pretty happy with how well the opening photo above shows just how massive the legs are. It

also really shows off the construction of welded stainless steel plates. At 886 tons of stainless

steel...that, my friends, is a LOT of stainless steel!


You know...on pretty days such as the StL has been experiencing this week, it's pretty hard to

take a bad photo of the Gateway Arch. It just begs to be gazed or no. It is grand.

Living here, in it's shadow, it's easy to forget or dismiss...but I try to take a moment to show

appreciation as best I can. So this is Mr. Modtomic's tiny tribute.


If you are not so blessed to live here in St. Louis but might ever make a visit or move here, you

should definitely make a visit to the Arch and take the tram ride to the top but don't forget the

Arch grounds. There's plenty of space to spread a blanket and just lollygag for an afternoon

without hardly seeing another soul. Bring your laptop and read some Mr. Modtomic bloggings or,

if you're all "old school", a book or magazine. Have a picnic even! There are two biomorphicly

shaped lakes at either end but don't bring your fishin' poles. I don't really think they are stocked



At the north end of the Memorial grounds is a parking garage but on the other side of that is

historic Lacledes Landing. There are still some beautiful buildings that have been preserved and a

number of restaurants and some sort of gigantic casino / hotel. Take a stroll but don't expect too

much. The Landing ain't what it used to be. The powers that be are planning a big facelift to the

Arch grounds proper that I'm sure will be making a mess of things soon, so get down there while

the getting is good!


  1. That's one beautiful piece of architecture! I've never had the pleasure to visit STL but if and when I do, ths will definetely be on the to-do list. The grounds look pretty swell too. Thanks for the great pics!!

    1. Hi A Mod. It is a beaut. If you get the opportunity, you really should try to spend a weekend here in the StL. There's plenty to fill a weekend to do 'round here!

  2. It's amazing that it even stands. I've seen documentaries on the Hover Dam and other man made structures, it would be interesting to see the design planning and the construction through all phases and how the weather and gravity doesn't knock it over.

    1. There have been several documentaries on the design and construction of the Arch. No amazement is necessary; a weighted catenary arch is extremely stable as the thrust is directed along the legs into their foundations, while other forms of arch the thrust tries to force the legs apart--which in most structures is contained by massive end anchors.

      However, if the Arch were abandoned and not maintained, the "stainless" steel would eventually rust, and acidic rain water seeping between breaks in the welds would start to rust the steel interior supports and deteriorate the steel-reinforced concrete which fills the legs up to the 300 ft level. Eventually, a tornado would pass close enough that the wind shear would bend the Arch's top far enough that the legs would break off around the 300-ft level.

    2. Hi David. There is a great art print that shows the Gateway Arch as just the bent end of a giant underground clothes hanger! Love that print.

      Hi Anony. You are correct that the Gateway Arch would fall if abandoned but the Stainless Steel exterior would not readily rust. Stainless Steel doesn't rust like common steel. The interior structure is made of carbon steel and it is already suffering and in need of work.