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Current Watch Site
JEFFERSON NATIONAL EXPANSION MEMORIAL
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
- WMF Program:2014 Watch
Conceived in the 1930s by Luther Ely Smith and constructed between 1963 and 1965 according to Eero Saarinen’s winning design, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial soars over a carefully designed landscape, underground visitor center, and museum. The Gateway Arch feature of the memorial, often referred to as simply “the Arch,” consists of a stainless steel exterior and carbon steel interior, rising 630 feet above the ground. A unique tram system transports visitors to the observation deck at the top, providing an unparalleled vista of the American heartland.
The Arch serves as a centerpiece of St. Louis and is often a locale for public gatherings, political rallies, cultural events, and other civic activities. Nationally and internationally, the Arch stands as a symbol of westward expansion in the United States and as an icon of mid-century modernism. But as is the case with many important examples of modern architecture, the preservation of twentieth-century materials and structural designs has proven challenging. The unusual shape and extreme height of the Arch compound these difficulties, as do economic trends that have led to decreased government funding for the stewardship of national monuments. The complexity of preserving both the structural integrity and aesthetic qualities of the Arch compels cooperation between the public and private sectors to ensure that adequate expertise and resources are brought to bear in the preservation of this important landmark and national symbol.