GRANITE CITY — The Gateway Arch is one of America’s most distinctive and beloved national monuments.
“The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, the Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch” compiles well-known and rare stories about the visionaries, finaglers, protesters and fearless-but-skilled hands involved in an incredible undertaking that courted as much controversy as it did enthusiasm. The dreamers included the architect Eero Saarinen, who spent 14 years tweaking his design for a Gateway Arch but never lived to see it built. Topping the list of schemers was Democratic St. Louis Mayor Bernard Dickmann, who threatened to throw Missouri to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Republican opponent if Roosevelt would not provide money for the memorial. The book tells the story of the intrepid workers who walked without safety lines hundreds of feet above the ground.
Today, 2.5 million people visit the Gateway Arch every year, and more than 100,000 motorists view the 63-story monument daily from miles away and up close. “The Making of an Icon” helps us appreciate the relentless pursuit, innovation and toil that made the Arch happen. Growing up in suburban St. Louis, author and journalist Jim Merkel went on numerous Sunday afternoon drives with his family to watch the construction of the Gateway Arch. His two previous books are “Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis’s South Side” and “Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans.” He and his wife, Lorraine, live in South St. Louis, 20 minutes from the Arch.
Merkel will sign copies of the book from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at Six Mile Regional Library District Branch, 2145 Johnson Road. This event is free and open to the public.