Gateway Arch….really big public art.

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As soon as I knew I was going to a conference in Milwaukee, I pulled out the road maps and started dreaming.

Too many things on my “to do list of life” list located in the Mid West, so it was hard to decide what I could fit in and where I could go.

Images of the Arch, and the Mississippi,  and an old Nelly interview floated thru my mind…

I decided to fly in to Chicago, get a rental car and do a driving pilgrimage to St Louis .

 

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I didn’t know what I would find and as I drove down the interstate towards St Louis, in grey skies and drizzly rain I wondered, would I see it as I drove in?

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Yes!

There it was.Gleaming and soaring above a subdued downtown, emerging from a parkland forest of trees and on the west bank of the Mississippi River, the site of the founding of St Louis.

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A sculpture and symbol of all that I love about America. The dynamism and optimism that propelled settlers across the continent. 630′ of soaring, stainless steel symbolizing Westward expansion.

Remarkable in so many ways, not the least the fantastic decision to create a huge, dramatic piece of public art.

Where else? Mt Rushmore?

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Designed by Eero Sarrinen, Finnish-American architect and industrial designer, and Hannskarl Bandarl, a German-American engineer.

Saarinen, now famous for his futuristic structural curves and precise simplicity in buildings,  monuments and furniture, won the design prize after competing with his father.His first win!

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Work commenced in 1963 and it opened to the public in 1967. It cost $13 million dollars ….around $175 million today, 50 years later.

More than 4 million people a year visit the site , many taking the claustrophobic tram inside to the top.Not me …just a visit to the museum and a lazy hour wandering the parkland and gazing up.

No surprise that St Louis is home to other smaller sculpture and public art spaces ( the Serra Scupture park and Citygarden).

The timeless innovative design and simple beauty of Gateway Arch , “reflective in sunshine,soft and pewterish in mist,crisp as a line drawing one minute, chimerical the next” exceeded any and all my expectations and creates marvel and awe in everyone who visits.

 

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