The Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch

A Biography

By Tracy Campbell

Yale University Press, Hardcover, 9780300169492, 217pp.

Publication Date: May 2013

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. Thiscompelling 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.

About the Author
Tracy Campbell, professor of history at the University of Kentucky, is the author of The Politics of Despair: Power and Resistance in the Tobacco Wars.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The gleaming stainless steel arch in St. Louis is, officially, a monument to westward expansion. But in The Gateway Arch: A Biography, Tracy Campbell argues that the monument's meaning is more complicated. He tells NPR about the controversies, the clout and the costs behind the 630-foot structure. More at

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