Browse this timeline of benchmark moments that make up the inspiring story behind the tallest man-made national monument – the Gateway Arch.
1933 | Civic leader Luther Ely Smith conceived the idea for the memorial as a way to help revitalize the riverfront and stimulate the economy.
1934 | The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association [JNEMA] was chartered.
1935 | JNEM was created through a Presidential proclamation and became a unit of the National Park Service.
1947 | An architectural competition was held to decide the design of the memorial.
1948 | Architect Eero Saarinen’s design of a stainless steel Arch won the contest.
1958–1961 | Saarinen perfected his design.
1959 | On June 23, 1959, St. Louis celebrated with a groundbreaking for the memorial.
1961 | Excavations for the foundations began.
1962 | The Bi-State Development Agency was asked to finance the $2 million tram system that would take visitors to and from the top of the Arch. They did so by selling revenue bonds, which allowed trams to open in 1967.
1963 | Construction began on February 12, 1963.
1963 | Work was delayed due to a strike by hoisting and operating engineers. Later, construction on the south leg was delayed because of problems achieving the proper tension in the interior sections.
1965 | The final section was placed and the Arch was completed on October 28, 1965.
1966 | The Building and Construction Trades Council unanimously voted to stop work on the visitor center over issues of hiring contractors not affiliated with the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). This controversy was initiated when an African-American plumbing company was hired in an effort to meet federal equal opportunity requirements. Later, a temporary injunction was filed that required union workers to return to work.
1967 | The Visitor Center opened to the public and visitors took their first ride on the north trams.
1976 | The Museum of Westward Expansion opened to the public.
1981 | Landscaping was completed.
1991 | The underground visitor center was augmented with a 70mm giant-screen theatre, as well as exhibits throughout the tram load zones.
1998 | The north and south tram load zones were extensively renovated to create additional space for museum displays. The three-story atrium was altered by the infill of the concrete flooring slab, removal of the concrete guard walls and installation of carpeting over the terrazzo flooring.
2001 | Permanent floodlights were installed to light the Arch exterior.
2003 | The Grand Staircase was completed.
2009 | CityArchRiver hosted a design competition for renovations to the Arch grounds.
2015 | St. Louis celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the completion of the Arch.
Discover more details about the Arch here.