The Gateway Arch


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A Biography

Tracy Campbell

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The surprising history of the spectacular Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the competing agendas of its supporters, and the mixed results of their ambitious plan

Rising to a triumphant height of 630 feet, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is a revered monument to America’s western expansion. Envisioned in 1947 but not completed until the mid-1960s, the arch today attracts millions of tourists annually and is one of the world’s most widely recognized structures. By weaving together social, political, and cultural history, historian Tracy Campbell uncovers the complicated and troubling history of the beloved structure. This compelling book explores how a medley of players with widely divergent motivations (civic pride, ambition, greed, among others) brought the Gateway Arch to fruition, but at a price the city continues to pay.
Campbell dispels long-held myths and casts a provocative new light on the true origins and meaning of the Gateway Arch. He shows that the monument was the scheme of shrewd city leaders who sought to renew downtown St. Louis and were willing to steal an election, destroy historic buildings, and drive out local people and businesses to achieve their goal. Campbell also tells the human story of the architect Eero Saarinen, whose prize-winning design brought him acclaim but also charges of plagiarism, and who never lived to see the completion of his vision. As a national symbol, the Gateway Arch has a singular place in American culture, Campbell concludes, yet it also stands as an instructive example of failed urban planning.
Tracy Campbell is professor of history and codirector of the Wendell Ford Public Policy Research Center at the University of Kentucky. 

"Full of drama and intrigue, The Gateway Arch colorfully traces how the architectural  symbol of America’s opening to the west in St. Louis came into being--a process marked by political contention, the personal pathology of a great architect, and a city's search for identity."--William H. Chafe, Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History, Duke University

“Here is a riveting examination of the politics of urban renewal, the aesthetics of public art, the ingenuity of structural engineering, and the zeal of civic boosterism that made St. Louis’ Gateway Arch both iconic and ironic.”–Donald A. Ritchie, author of Electing FDR: The New Deal Campaign of 1932

"Tracy Campbell removes the luster from one the nation’s most admired and visited historical landmarks in this exposé of raw politics, profiteering, inflated egos, racism, and fraud. His surprising story compels us to think carefully about what is gained and lost when urban places are remade to commemorate the past."–Andrew Hurley, author of Beyond Preservation: Using Public History to Revitalize Inner-Cities

“A slender new book . . . that casts some shadoes on the gleaming monument.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Visitors should be handed a copy of The Gateway Arch.”—Alex Ihnen,
“Fascinating reading on a historical level, on an architectural level, on an engineering level.”—Bobby Tanzil,
“[A] thorough and often unflattering story of the city politics and private-interest ambitions that played heavily in the Arch’s formative years.”—Mary Delach Leonard, STL Beacon

“Campbell’s rich expose lays bare the political, real-estate and city planning shenanigans behind the landmark.”—Jeff Truesdell, People Magazine

“Highly readable. . . . The Gateway Arch illustrates that behind every symbol is a complex story.”—Journal of American History

“Tracy Campbell offers readers a fascinating reconsideration of the iconic structure, exploring the contested history of its creation and the larger legacy of the sculpture for the city of Saint Louis.”—Aaron Cownan, Slippery Rock University

“Offers readers a fascinating reconsideration of the iconic structure. . . . Critical historical evaluation is nicely balanced here with a story that is still accessible to the non-academic reader.”—Aaron Cownan, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"This is a well- crafted and important book. . . .  No one who reads this book will ever look at the Arch in the same way again."—Gary R. Kremer, Middle West Review

“The Gateway Arch is the definitive social and architectural history of the St. Louis Arch. It is a must-read for historians and those interested in urban planning and the built form and is sure to delight detail-oriented scholars and arm-chair architects alike.”—Alex Bitterman, Journal of American Culture

Winner of the 2014 Missouri History Book Award given by The State Historical Society of Missouri.
ISBN: 9780300205688
Publication Date: April 15, 2014
232 pages, 5 1/16 x 7 7/8
25 b/w illus.
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