The newly unveiled green space will make the city more walkable than ever.
St. Louis is about to get even more spirit — and no, it’s not because the recent arrival of hometown hero restaurateur Danny Meyer’s first Missouri Shake Shack. Today, the city unveils the reimagined Gateway Arch Park after a five-year, $380-million renovation project — finally giving Eero Saarinen’s soaring monument to the American West the backdrop it deserves.
The district surrounding the iconic Gateway Arch was long a considered a relative eyesore thanks to a tangle of freeways, parking structures, and inexplicable detours that essentially cut the monument off from the rest of the city. But landscape firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, masterminds behind challenging urban greenspace projects like Brooklyn Bridge Park and the White House stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue, have helped make the area more accessible than ever.
The site of a multi-level concrete garage becomes an outdoor amphitheater. A grassy land bridge spans what had once been an uncrossable roaring interstate. And, most importantly, the most famous building in St. Louis will finally be connected to the beating heart of downtown, with miles of new paths and uninterrupted sightlines all the way to the city’s Old Courthouse and newly redesigned Kiener Plaza.
Visitors can also look forward to a fully-revamped museum with interactive multimedia displays and galleries that highlight St. Louis’ diverse histories. The architectural vision of collaborators Cooper Robertson and James Carpenter Design Associates incorporates close to 45,000 added square feet for expanded programming, and transforms the underground museum’s previous dour, Brutalist entrance into an airy glass foyer that, from the outside, transitions seamlessly into the Mississippi vistas beyond.
The official reopening coincides with the homecoming of Fair Saint Louis, a free annual food and culture festival that’s been displaced due to construction (July 4, 6-7). It kicks off on Independence Day, a fitting way to honor a monument and a city whose challenges and triumphs are so essential to the story of the United States.
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