Friday, October 24, 2008

Our National Audience

Urban Core
Last week, setting the record for audiences at the Gateway Arch Grounds was a nice day of publicity for our otherwise HO-HUM National Park.

Not that the Arch isn't great, but really, outside of some good scenery, what is it?

Today's cover article on talked a bit about the little struggle we have going over the hope for revisions of the arch grounds.

According to the NPS, they can't just listen to what St. Louisans want. It has to be opened up for a national competition, similar to the one that Eero Saarinen was in. Seems respectable, huh?

This was posted back in April, the last time the media covered it.

Three concerns I have now. 1. The Arch Grounds are a National Park and should be treated accordingly....BUT we have to live with it year in and year out. Plans should be something that takes into account the city's desire for a world class destination, not just a quick makeover.

2. The actual plan that Saarinen submitted for his original contest victory was more involved. What we have is a stripped down version. Original plans include a theater a levee restaurant, an architectural museum and a history museum. Also the grounds would be forested and the Old Rock House would have been re-built from original materials. The NPS had an opportunity to get it right already. It makes a hell of a fairground, but is it something that brings people downtown?

3. My hope was for a call to action from within the city. Contact your Congressman! Of course, saving the economy has been a bit more pressing, but this should be a close second!

Claims that its National Historic Site should prevent local pressure to make improvements is NONSENSE! I would understand if it was Arlington National Cemetery or something of historical significance but c'mon! Everything historic was razed for the modern art, grassy landscaping and westward expansion museum. Nice, but historic? I might even be swayed by a bit more history on the part of the city that was destroyed to plant the Arch.

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