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Arch Topping 50th Anniversary Just Two Years Away

October 28, 2013 Downtown, Featured, Parks, Planning & Design No Comments
ABOVE: This should be the view three years from today.
This planned view three years from today

Two years from today marks the 50th anniversary of the topping of the Gateway Arch. October 28th wasn’t the original date, but delays happen:

President Lyndon B. Johnson and Mayor Alfonso J. Cervantes decided on a date for the topping out ceremony, but the arch had not been completed by then. The ceremony date was reset to October 17, 1965, and workers strained to meet the deadline, taking double shifts, but by October 17, the arch was still not complete. The chairman of the ceremony anticipated the ceremony to be held on October 30, a Saturday, to allow 1,500 schoolchildren, whose signatures were to be placed in a time capsule, to attend. Ultimately, the Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel(Warren, Pa) set the ceremony date to October 28.

The time capsule, containing the signatures of 762,000 students and others, was welded into the keystone before the final piece was set in place. On October 28, the arch was topped out as then Vice President Hubert Humphrey observed from a helicopter. A Catholic priest and a rabbi prayed over the keystone, a 10 short tons (9.1 t), 8 feet (2.4 m)-long triangular section. It was slated to be inserted at 10:00 a.m. local time but was done 30 minutes early because thermal expansion had constricted the 8.5-foot gap at the top by 5 inches (13 cm). To mitigate this, workers used fire hoses to spray water on the surface of the south leg to cool it down and make it contract. The keystone was inserted in 13 minutes,[30] only 6 inches (15 cm) remained. For the next section, a hydraulic jack had to pry apart the legs six feet. The last section was left only 2.5 feet (0.76 m). By 12:00 p.m., the keystone was secured. Some filmmakers, in hope that the two legs would not meet, had chronicled every phase of construction. (Wikipedia)

So 48 years ago delays were common. In fact, it was years later before the Arch opened to visitors. Landscaping came later as well.

MoDOT recently closed Washington @ I-70 to rework the intersection before Memorial Drive is closed for construction of the lid/park
MoDOT recently closed Washington @ I-70 to rework the intersection before Memorial Drive is closed for construction of the lid/park

What will be completed in two years, what won’t be? Word is still that Kiener Plaza will be done as this is key to directing visitors to the newly planned museum entrance from various downtown parking garages.  That must happen so the existing garage on the north end can be razed.

— Steve Patterson


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