Not Just a Piece of Steel

construction workers helping install a section of the arch.

construction workers helping install a section of the arch.

Rebecca Bazzell, Editor

Everyone that lives within driving distance of the St. Louis Arch knows the sight of shining steel at sunset. You may also know that feeling of relief you get by seeing the arch after a long family road trip or vacation.  We, as Granite City citizens, are practically a hop, jump, and short swim away from the beautiful Gateway Arch. Did you know that on October 28th the arch will be 50 years old?!

For all of you history buffs, this magnificent structure was built as a monument to the vision of Thomas Jefferson and St. Louis’ role in the westward expansion. Do you welding techs know how many stainless steel sections there are in the structure? Well, there are 142! For any wrestlers that ‘even lift, bro’ the arch weighs about 17,246 tons! For the architecture gurus, Eero Saarinen won a national competition for designing the memorial in 1947. For everyone else like me, who traveled to the arch for an exciting second grade field trip, you are one of the 240 to 480 passengers that stand at the top hourly.

You watched some of these men sprawl out across the Arch holding on to the side for dear life with one hand and holding a welding torch with the other hand. My heart still races just thinking about it!”

— Sam Bautsch

The city is ready to celebrate the iconic St.Louis Arch’s birthday. 50 years ago the residence stood by to watch the men hard at work on the Arch. Local resident Sam Bautsch  told Granite High World what was running through his 10 year old mind when watching the Arch being built. “You watched some of these men sprawl out across the Arch holding on to the side for dear life with one hand and holding a welding torch with the other hand. My heart still races just thinking about it!”

Due to ongoing construction at the Archgrounds, the full day of fun for the Arch’s birthday will take place with a “Meet the Builders” on October 28th from 9:30am to 11:00am at the Missouri History Museum. This free event is for the public so they can meet the men who built the Arch in the 1960s. Iron workers, electricians, sheet-metal workers, draftsmen, field engineers and other construction workers will pose for photos and sign autographs.

Also, on Oct. 28, tram tickets will be sold similar to the ones sold in 1960’s at the mind blowing price of $1. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Old Courthouse, online at https://www.ticketsforthearch.com, or by calling 877-982-1410. Visitors will receive a trendy “Top of the Arch” button.

Last but not least, there is a Recognition Ceremony and Birthday Party that afternoon to celebrate the moment when the final piece of the Gateway Arch was placed! National Park Service leadership, along with local officials and partner dignitaries, will lead a special recognition ceremony commemorating the completion of the Arch on the Fourth Street side of the Old Courthouse. And don’t forget about the Free Birthday Cupcakes from Sarah’s Cake Stop & Destination Desserts for the first 1,000 visitors.  For more information you can visit the St. Louis Arch page at http://gatewayarch.com/about/50th-anniversary.aspx or follow the Arch on twitter @GatewayArchSTL.

the Gateway arch on July 4th 2012
the Gateway Arch on July 4th 2012
The Gateway Arch being Constructed in 1965
The Gateway Arch being Constructed in 1965