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100 Days Until 50th Anniversary of Final Piece of Arch Placed

July 20, 2015 Downtown, Events/Meetings, Featured, Parks 2 Comments

On October 28, 1965 the last piece of the Arch was lowered into place, so October 28, 2015 is the 50th anniversary of that event.

I’ve been posting the following image when discussing the CityArchRiver project for nearly 3 years now, the view is looking East from the Old Courthouse.

2012 rendering of Luther Ely Square extended over the highway, leading to the future Arch/museum entrance
2012 rendering of Luther Ely Square extended over the highway, leading to the future Arch/museum entrance

Two weeks ago, looking out from the 7th floor balcony of the CityArchRiver offices, I saw the work underway.

Construction on Luther Ely Square with the Old Courthouse in the background, the red line indicates the central sidewalk area
Construction on Luther Ely Square with the Old Courthouse in the background, the red line indicates the central sidewalk area

At first I thought we were going to have lots of people crossing 4th Street between Market & Chestnut — going to & from the Old Courthouse and Luther Ely Square & Arch. But as I put the rendering into this post I looked closely at the bottom and it looks like a wall is shown keeping pedestrians from crossing 4th Street mid-block. Or it’s a cut-out to pull over and drop people off — not sure.

Looking North along 4th, with Luther Ely Square on the right, temporary  Jersey Barrier wall on left.
Looking North along 4th, with Luther Ely Square on the right, temporary Jersey Barrier wall on left.

If there isn’t a wall people will cross mid-block. If there is a wall, pedestrians will be taken via a circuitous route.

Plans for the 50th anniversary will be announced shortly, but Luther Ely Square is supposed to be completed by then. The riverfront work maybe — the high river level has delayed the project.  If they can clean the mud off the work area quickly then it to should be complete, in a few weeks we’ll know.   Plans will include a festival the weekend before October 28th, and a ceremony that day.

Remember the original landscaping wasn’t finished until the early 80s, here’s a look from May 1982:

It has been almost five years since the CityArchRiver competition was reduced to five finalists.

The clock is ticking.

— Steve Patterson

 

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. guest says:

    “After everything is said and done, there is usually more said than done.”

    When they cut the ribbon on all of this let’s hope the results aren’t underwhelming. Most of the Arch park/downtown riverfront will still be severely cut off from the rest of downtown; grand new open spaces/vistas on the park will be seldom seen/visited (since going to the Arch is out of the way for most people except during special events), and the gussied up museum will still be, well, a museum.

    Consider this. Chicago has awesome museums. But of all the trips you take to Chicago, how often do you do repeat visits to those museums? Seen ’em once and that’s about it. Much more interested in going to sporting events, cool neighborhoods, and great restaurants. A return trip to the Field Museum? Meh.

    And that new deck over the highway? It’s going to be nice. People will no longer have to cross over high curbs and misaligned crosswalks to get to the Arch from the Old Court House. But the one block lid design is far less than original planners recommended. When talk of a lid first started, it was studied and determined that to be effective at mitigating the noise and visual pollution of the depressed lanes, the lid needed to be three blocks long, not just one. So we’re getting something 1/3 the scale of what was originally envisioned.

    The promoters all said the work the Arch will be “transformational” for downtown. Looking forward to the reviews….

     
    • John R says:

      Me, too; and it it is unfortunate that we’ll still have to wait a couple more years before everything is done. Once open, the new entrance should be stunning. And the demo of the parking garage will draw more visitors to downtown. But I would have preferred a three block cap and keeping Memorial open over a fancier one block Park Over Highway.

       

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