Thursday, August 09, 2007

St. Louis, Or A Big Thing You Can Walk Under

So back in the fifties, some guy (Eero Saarinen, if you're really interested), who was apparently not satisfied with being able to drive ten feet and see two arches at McDonalds, decided to build this 600 foot stainless steel arch in St. Louis. I'm always on board with hubris like that, so when I got on the ground there, I took the train to go see this thing.

Hubris, with a capital hyoo, is how you spell this arch. Wow. It goes way up there. The first time I went to see it, I had gravely underestimated how long the train took to get there, and so I only got to marvel at it for maybe ten minutes before having to rush back to the hotel. Didn't get to go in. However, with the magic of modern internet technology, you are spared the week of waiting that I suffered waiting to go back a week later, and get to go back inside immediately.

At the base of the arch is a cool museum, chronicling its design and assembly, complete with trivia about the process. I found it amusing that the idea of the design contest was to come up for a monument to symbolize 'the gateway to the West,' and the winning designer only realized that what he'd come up with was an actual gateway a few years after it was finished. This thing pictured here is one of the elevators, which is four and a half feet at its tallest point inside, and a vision of what they thought the future would look like fifty years ago. You and four of your newest friends end up crammed in cheek to cheek like sardines for the four minute ride up. Luckily, this time it was just the FO and me.

When you finally get to the top, there's a little crow's nest.

It's got portholes so you can look out.

Thing is, the arch is basically an extruded triangle with the point facing in, so these portholes face straight down instead of out. Most people would be flipped out by that, but I'm not all that smart, so I thought it was cool. Here's proof (that's the base of the arch on either side there).

Here's our shadow.

And here's a plenty good view of downtown St. Louis, including the venerable Cards' home turf (the arch is the last stop before Illinois, so the Cubs don't have far to travel to lose).

The museum at the bottom is actually very engrossing. It's round, and the walls lead you around with quotes from Lewis and Clark's famous expedition. There are several animatronic people who move and lip synch very badly to interesting vignettes about the era.
And after that much history, there was nothing more to do but hit the local Hooters and get toasted. I love America.


Blogger Clarence said...

All the arch needs is a Skycoaster, and they'd be rolling in dough. And possibly wrongful death lawsuits.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You might want to doublecheck me on this, but I believe it's "chronicling." No charge. L.M.

10:04 AM  

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