While in St. Louis, Ruth and I went to the top of The Arch again. It was a great deal of fun because we did it with 3 children under the age of 10.
A few days before, we had talked to JR Hooks at the visitors’ desk. He informed us about a project beginning in summer, 2014, that will alter The Arch experience. I encouraged readers who were interested in visiting this St. Louis landmark to wait until 2015, the 50th anniversary of this celebrated and risky engineering marvel, a 630 feet Arch on the St. Louis Riverfront. John Hooks graciously emailed more information in the form of a super website, cityarchriver.org., which promises and delivers a “fly through tour of renovated grounds.”
What will occur over the next two years and a bit beyond was designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates of Brooklyn, NY & Cambridge, MA. Plans call for landscape changes, a redesigned museum, a “Park Over the Highway” to connect the Arch grounds to downtown St. Louis, and lots more.
The historically and architecturally significant Old Courthouse has been included in the plans. The 1846 Dred Scott case was argued here. Scott petitioned for his freedom based on the fact that he had been held as a slave in free states–Louisiana, Illinois, etc. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled he could not have his freedom because he was not a citizen. OC’s cast iron dome was modeled on St. Peter’s Basilica. Some said it was too heavy and predicted disaster.
cityarchriver.org encourages visitors to tell “My Arch Story”, so here’s mine. Several years ago friends Robert and Lynette from Australia came to St. Louis. Since Robert’s main desire was to go up to the top of The Arch, we headed there as soon as their train arrived from Chicago. It was a Sunday and the line was incredibly long, so I promised Robert we’d come back. I checked and was told to return any weekday by 9 am. The ticket selling system has since been improved.
On their final morning, Ruth took Lynette back to the New Cathedral, St. Louis’ preferred name for its exactly 100-year-old Cathedral Basilica. Robert and I headed for the Arch. By 10:30 the line had barely moved. Robert’s dream was fading since he and Lynette were leaving by mid-afternoon.
The ticket seller in the final cubicle had no customers. I supposed she had just come on or was on break. I left the line, went to her, and told her about my Aussie visitor’s collapsing dream. Without a word, she sold me 2 tickets. 45 minutes later Robert was gazing down on the St. Louis Riverfront from the top of The Arch with a huge grin on his face. It was his favorite experience of the trip and it’ll be yours too. But you might want to wait until 2015 to have it.