Inside the new Arch entrance. Photo by Judith Anderson

MONTERREY: The Arch Overhaul & Becoming A Friend

Debbie Monterrey
April 02, 2018 - 11:15 am

by Debbie Monterrey [email protected]

What symbolized St. Louis before the Arch? I’m not really sure. I wasn’t here then. But I do know that for the past 50+ years, that inverted catenary screams ST. LOUIS! And, to most St. Louisans, immediately says, “home.”

Like most people who live around here, I’m going to say, in my head or out loud, “The Arch!” every time I see it. Every single time we drive back to St. Louis from the east, someone in the car is going to exclaim, “There it is! The Arch!”

As a child growing up in the Chicago area, my family and I came to St. Louis on vacation. I vividly remember camping at Jellystone Park, visiting Six Flags and Meramec Caverns and riding that tram to the top of the Arch, which had been open less than a decade at that point.

I remember standing in the shadow of that Arch, marveling at it’s size. I remember wandering through the Arch museum waiting for our turn to ride up. My sister and I squealing with delight as that tram (egg!) rocked and rolled us to the top. How we could see through the pod’s window slits the stairwells and the inner-workings of the leg we were scuttling up. I remember the awe we felt looking out those windows, wondering if we could see our house all the way in Chicago.

(Become a Gateway Arch Park FRIEND and get a sneak peek of the new museum!)

Imagine me moving to St. Louis many years later, bringing friends and family to the Arch, and finding that nothing had changed at all. In fact, in the museum underground, the same buffalo (and was there a bear?) was still there. It was all the same. Just dustier and with less hair. The Arch itself hadn’t lost its ability to wow, but parts of the attraction were losing some luster.

View of Arch grounds and new entrance. Photo by Debbie Monterrey

I’ve followed the progress of the massive renovation/improvement project on the Arch grounds since it began (although since KMOX moved to the Park Pacific building in Downtown West, it’s more difficult than when our old studios on Memorial Drive gave us direct views).

I cannot wait until it’s all complete.

1)    The Park Over the Highway is now officially open. Before, Memorial Drive was a nightmare, for pedestrians and cars alike. My office at KMOX looked over the intersection of Memorial and Market. Several times a week, we’d hear squealing brakes, sometimes a crunch of metal. And sadly, a few times we saw people lying in the street or the curb after getting hit by a car. The Arch grounds are no longer separate from downtown, but flows seamlessly from the Old Courthouse.

2)  The new entrance is a game-changer. It’s not open, YET, but instead of being shoved down the legs of the Arch, the new entrance is a welcoming opening after you cross over in safety. It’s a half-moon of glass with a fountain in front that will welcome visitors on hot, St. Louis summer days.

3) The dusty, hairless, stuffed animals are gone from the museum. It’s even bigger now, underground. There’s a new terrazzo floor featuring St. Louis as the center (confluence of Missouri and Mississippi Rivers).

Become a Friend of the Arch! Get a 10% discount and a sneak peek at the new museum before it opens to the public, plus tram tickets, free parking, invites to members-only events and more. 

The Arch IS St. Louis. Next to the Cardinals, it's the most recognizable symbol of our city. Get behind it. Support it. Become a Friend. Bring your friends. Go see it. 

From the newly renovated Kiener Plaza to the Old Courthouse to the Park over the Highway to the new Arch entrance and the brand new museum, it's a great time for downtown St. Louis. 


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