ST. LOUIS - For years they were the depressed lanes of Interstate 70 in downtown St. Louis, a traffic-filled trench effectively cutting off the Arch Grounds from the rest of the city.
“Being able to walk across the highway and into the park is really a great experience because we're connecting our self with the City of St. Louis,” says Eric Moraczewski, Executive Director Gateway Arch Park Foundation.
It's not just a symbolic move remaking the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and the recently renamed Gateway Arch National Park. The $380 million multi-year project is finally coming to an end as fencing is coming down, welcoming wet visitors to the Arch Grounds.
“So, we're taking down the fences across the park,” says Moraczewski. “So, we have new entrances coming in from Washington Avenue and new entrances from 4th Street across from the park. So, we're really just opening up our access to the park so that people can come in and get in from any direction they're coming from.”
Rain or shine, you can now walk from the Old Courthouse through Luther Ely Smith Square and onto the Arch Grounds and into an aesthetic that is pleasing to the eye. Suddenly, a worldwide recognizable monument might feel a little bit closer, and certainly safer when it comes to getting onto the grounds of Eero Saarinen's celebration to westward expansion.
“Actually, we have several weekends coming up where the trams are already sold out,” says Moraczewski. “So really people are starting to re-engage with the park and it's really fun to see it all happening.”
Up next on the Arch Grounds: June 19 will open the new west entryway, July 3 the grand celebration, and Fair St. Louis returns on July 4.