ST. LOUIS – More than a dozen original crew members involved with the construction of the Gateway Arch gathered Saturday morning in St. Louis.
The so-called “Arch builders” signed autographs and shared stories of the Gateway Arch, celebrating 57 years since the final touches of the largest U.S. manmade monument.
On Oct. 28, 1965, crews added a 10-ton centerpiece to complete construction on the Gateway Arch. From start to finish, the project took nearly 1,000 days to complete.
The Gateway Arch has hosted many “Arch builders” reunions, though Saturday’s event was the first in nearly three years due to the pandemic. Many of the surviving builders are now in their 70s or 80s.
Among Saturday’s attendees, Arch builders Jack Cannon, Art Setchfield and Myrt Rollins say the project was quite the experience and many didn’t realize at the time just how important of a St. Louis symbol it would become.
“It’s something else,” said Cannon, who assisted with Arch work as young as 17 years old. “When I was a young boy, I thought ‘Why are they building an Arch?’ I couldn’t understand it [then], but now I do.”
“We’ve come more than we expected,” said Rollins on revisiting the Arch. “The Arch is always special… We changed the name of St. Louis as the Gateway City. That’s pretty good.”
“It’s just something you expected, back then it was not that big of a deal” said Setchfield, one of several atop the Arch when crews added the final piece. “The way this thing has grown [in notoriety] over the years, it’s just totally amazing.”
Many others remember long summer work days and walking up flights of stairs to get the job done. Among those who attended Saturday were:
- Elden Arteaga
- Jack Cannon
- Pete Carmi
- James Chrismeir
- Butch Hepburn
- Everett Myers
- Claude Lynch
- Myrt Rollins
- Art Setchfield
Historians say the Gateway Arch concept dates back to the late 1940s when the City of St. Louis and the National Park Service collaborated and selected a design for a memorial in a nationwide competition. Architect Eero Saarinen came up with the winning design for a stainless steel arch.
Construction costs were funded at $13 million at the time, while organizers also invested in a $3.5 million transportation system. The Arch weighs 17,246 tons, and its 900 tons of stainless steel are more than any other project in U.S. history.
For decades, the manmade monument has stood 630 feet tall in downtown St. Louis on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The Gateway Arch welcomes thousands of visitors on average each day and brought in more than 1.1 million visitors last year.
The entire construction of the Gateway Arch is documented in “Monument to the Dream,” a 28-minute film which plays at the top of each hour in the Arch grounds’ Tucker Theater. FOX 2 also recently compiled some photos from the Associated Press documenting the construction.