The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, is one of the United State’s most recognizable monuments. Well, not really. The State of Missouri and the city of St. Louis has not explored the tourism potential of the nation’s tallest man-made structure as much as they should have. And over the years, the most iconic images of the United States abroad has been either the Statue of Liberty in New York or the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles. In some cases, even the Golden Gate Bridge and the Mt. Rushmore carvings in the Black Forests of Dakota have taken a bigger pride of place on items that represent America the most. Until now. The city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri have devised a plan to revamp the image of the Arch and develop its potential for tourism around the country and around the world.

To achieve this, a competition whose goal is to revitalize the grounds at the Jefferson Expansion Memorial where the Arch is located was set up. The aim was to elicit proposals from architects all over the world out of which the best is chosen and implemented for the beautification of the whole area. “We gave each competitor 10 goals to meet in their plans, including connecting the Illinois side of the river,” Tom Bradley said. He’s the superintendent of the Jefferson Expansion Memorial. The estimated cost for the project is $300 million. So far, each of the 5 finalists of the proposal have been given $100,000 to create not only colourful, but meaningful, proposals which are going to be scrutinized before the winner is chosen.

Speaking with Chancellor of the University Mr. Vaughn Vandegrift last week at the public exhibition held at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, I got the impression that the project is not only beyond the State of Missouri, the State of Illinois and the city of St.Louis where the monument is located, it is beyond this current generation as well. The renovation of the Arch and surrounding which is expected to begin when the winner of the bid is announced later in the year will be expected to be totally complete in 2015. “As this plan makes progress,” he said to the campus newspaper, The Alestle, “students can tell their children and grandchildren that they once saw the winning project on display at SIUE.”

All of the proposed designs incorporate parts of Illinois on the other side of the river into their designs and each presentation make for very enchanting viewing. One proposes an international conference centre around the Arch so that people don’t just come to see the monument but could also come for shows and events. Another one proposes tram, bicycles and pedestrian paths across the Mississippi river in a way that gives a better viewing access to the Arch area. What most of the proposals have in common is their love for flair, and a very thorough re-imagining of the Gateway Arch and its surroundings. If one thing is sure as the judges look over the finalists to choose the winner of the bid, it is that the riverfront and the areas around the Gateway Arch is not going to remain the same in the next ten years. Hopefully, it will open a bigger opportunity for tourism in the St.Louis area of the United States. For me, I will be glad to be able to say that I was here when it started.

The Gateway Arch, also known as the Gateway to the West, is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, Missouri, and was built to commemorate the westward expansion of the United States. It is located at Walnut St & South Memorial Drive St. Louis. It was opened to the public on July 10, 1967 after two years of construction. It is located  is 630ft tall. The Washington Monument in DC, its closest competitor is only 555ft tall, and the Statue of Liberty in New York is 305ft.

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