CityArchRiver

The design competition and remake of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, AKA the Arch grounds.
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My wife and I attended the Gateway Arch Foundation members new museum preview and buffet yesterday. Here are a few of my impressions and photos. They say the museum is about 95% finished.
1. Entrance is great. Spacious and bright with a greeting desk, restrooms and ticket purchase lines all ahead of security. Great view out the front toward the Old Courthouse. Wading pool is finished and filled. Stairs take you from level 3 to level 2 with the big floor map, and where the buffet was set up. Escalators were not on, but they take you straight from level 3 to level 1 where the museum starts. Elevator doors had glass panels like the Arch Pod transporter doors for a nice touch.
2. Museum ceiling was much higher than I expected, and therefore the exhibits were much larger than I expected. Lots of large video panels and screens in the 6 pods that make up the museum: Colonial St. Louis, Manifest Destiny, New Frontiers, Jefferson's Vision, Riverfront Era, and Building the Arch.
3. One of my favorite big screen exhibits was in Colonial St. Louis. It was a digitally created 3-D model of colonial St. Louis that they flew you through, as if viewing from a drone, through trees and back yards and stopping occasionally to show labels on key homes and buildings as you flew through the town.
4. There were lots of artifacts such as peace coins given to native Americans, tools used by settlers, and genuine Native American artifacts.
5. Many of the displays had a small bronze sculptured copy of the large item on display that you could touch. There was a large bronze model of the original Saarinen winning entry and small models of all the finalists with information about the submitters. Later they will add a display where they intend to rotate a few of the 150 entries a few at a time -- and they say some were pretty wild.
6. More interactive things for kids and adults including a game where you use a budget to buy what you need to get from St. Louis to the West Coast. When you hit go, it shows how far you got before you died because you forgot to buy a knife, say.
7. All in all -- not a life changing experience -- but much better at showing the key role St. Louis played in the Westward expansion, and why a monument belongs in St Louis.

Here are a few photos with a GoPro wide angle and a regular camera:
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^Looks great! Thanks for the preview!
Gary, we disagree on football but you rule.
Nice little write-up in Architectural Digest:

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/sto ... on-project
Love the way the new entrance looks. Was out of the box design like the pyramid at the Louvre.
Just as a point of reference, the Arch cost $13M to build in 1967 - including the transportation system. That's about $100M today, adjusted for inflation. The renovation cost four times as much. That's hard to fathom.

^Yes, that. Going down there has left me . . . even more disappointed. It feels more completely and perfectly isolated from the city than ever before. Like a well landscaped wasteland. It's pretty, but no one is there and I see little reason why anyone would be. There's less to do and it costs more. There are fewer actual connections and more barriers than ever before. It's really incredibly off putting.
I'd agree that the loss of a vehicular connection to the Landing via Wash Ave is a major loss for me. And the fact that they did this while not even addressing the safety and accessibility of pedestrian access from northern Downtown makes the whole idea pointless.

They really should have concepted this project with the highway removed or buried. Access from Wash Ave as a pedestrian is a NIGHTMARE.

All in all though, I've seen plenty of people down there enjoying it. Access between free amenities Downtown is well connected and visually striking. Worth $350m+? Not sure. They should have built it to spec to begin with in the 60's.

Re:

symphonicpoet wrote:
Sun May 27, 2018 12:21 am
^Yes, that. Going down there has left me . . . even more disappointed. It feels more completely and perfectly isolated from the city than ever before. Like a well landscaped wasteland. It's pretty, but no one is there and I see little reason why anyone would be. There's less to do and it costs more. There are fewer actual connections and more barriers than ever before. It's really incredibly off putting.
I walk the grounds daily, its a nice walk from 19th and Washington to the Arch and back towards my 15,000 step goal. Arch grounds arent 100% finished and its always packed during the day with tourists...Monday the wait for the ride up for about 1:15 minutes. the vendors on LKS Blvd have opened and they're doing very well already as indicated by the sold out signs for a lot of items by 2-3pm. its easily reached from the City now and most people dont even realize they're walking over a highway. my biggest complaint would be that nothing was done to and around the lakes, i think more could have been done there.

^The experience you describe is precisely the opposite of what I saw. Entirely. Mind you, some of this might be perspective. I've been going there my entire life. Most recently I was there of a Wednesday evening just walking around and went back the next Thursday morning for the tour. We bought tickets in advance, so I can't speak to the wait. There was always a bit of a wait if you bought tickets at the door. The usual practice was to buy tickets and then peruse the museum until your time came. And even when things were quiet that was always an hour or so. And . . . what vendors? The helicopter ride? There seem to be precisely three vendors now: the Becky Thatcher, the helicopter tour operator, and a small cafe associated with them. It's a shadow of what it once was. The riverfront was packed when I was a kid. The vendors there now were all there, plus the McBarge, the Robert E Lee (which would have needed a new name, to be fair), the Inaugural, the Goldenrod, and at times the Admiral. There were several restaurants, not one. There was entertainment. There were always people there. There was music. There was life. It's virtually empty now. Sure, a lot of that was barges with a lifespan that needed replacing. But why can't we find the funding to bring some of that back? Any of it? I truly have no idea what vendors you mean. Do you mean Laclede's Landing? The Adams Mark? The vending machines downstairs in the atrium? The amusement park photo booth? I truly don't understand what you mean there. The vendors have been slowly dying away since I was a kid and it seems to me as though nothing will reverse that trend. There's still a few, but nothing like there used to be.

And it looks far more isolated. Crossing the highway was the easy part. You had a bridge. You have a bridge now. The only difference is that the bridge is grassy now. There's one less street to cross, but the one that's gone was never busy. Broadway is still Broadway. And the thing looks like it's lost in some post-industrial pasture now, rather than in a city. I very much doubt the numbers will ever recover, thanks to the airport style security. I just can't imagine it's pleasant to take a tour of rowdy schoolkids down through that. There just won't be as many. That really will leave a mark. Maybe I'm wrong. But man, it's off-putting. To be fair, a lot of what I dislike is the new security measures: the hills and berms, the security lines. It's an enormous waste of money and effort mandated by scared fools at much higher pay grades. I never went often, but I've gone down there consistently every few years my entire life. It's absolutely not what it was. I went down last year in the height of the construction. I had high hopes. I no longer do. All the money was spent on the wrong things. And again, the landscaping is lovely. It's nice. It's just . . . barren. And it makes the arch feel like it's in the woods. It wouldn't feel much more isolated if it were across the river. Not talking about how long it actually takes to walk. Just the visual feeling; the way it directs your eye. It was never well integrated, but at least before it was flat, the paths focused the eye across, and there was no landscaping of note between the Old Courthouse and the Arch itself. It made the arch the end of a small urban mall. That feeling is gone, never to return. And it's a real loss.
^ I think there are vendor stalls going in, or have already gone in on LKS.

I think it would have been nice to carve out some money to build out barges with boat replicas on top or something to lease out as the vendor space, or restaurant space. I think you're onto something there. I remember McDonalds, Taco Bell, etc. Only thing now is that there's like a flood wall installed to keep LKS from flooding so it almost feels more separated than before. I think they could've saved that money and put it elsewhere. I don't think people use LKS as a major N/S thoroughfare, nor do people really visit the river when it's flooded either. Kind of goofy IMO.

Either way, I still think it is an improvement over the previous iteration. Was it worth the 300+ million? Again, not sure. I call into question some of the planning decisions. But all in all, it looks more polished than it ever did before.

Re:

symphonicpoet wrote:
Wed May 30, 2018 10:56 pm
And . . . what vendors? The helicopter ride? There seem to be precisely three vendors now: the Becky Thatcher, the helicopter tour operator, and a small cafe associated with them.
Since they've finished LKS, there's pretty consistently been burger, hot dog, gyro vendors down there on nice weather days. I wish the options were a little higher quality but I'll take it. I've never been to the cafe on the Becky Thatcher / Tom Sawyer barge but I want to give it a try.
Can we please bring back the name "Wharf Street" now? Infinitely more character.
framer wrote:Can we please bring back the name "Wharf Street" now? Infinitely more character.
When I moved here, I saw tourist pamphlets touting Santa Maria, minesweeper, Admiral, Robert E Lee Restaurant, helicopter rides, Goldenrod Showboat, and riverboat rides. Are there now no vendors willing to anchor an attraction at the Arch to entice tourists and make a little money?


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gary kreie wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 9:11 pm
framer wrote:Can we please bring back the name "Wharf Street" now? Infinitely more character.
When I moved here, I saw tourist pamphlets touting Santa Maria, minesweeper, Admiral, Robert E Lee Restaurant, helicopter rides, Goldenrod Showboat, and riverboat rides. Are there now no vendors willing to anchor an attraction at the Arch to entice tourists and make a little money?

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So much has changes on navigable waters in the last decade or two from regulations, certifications for safety & pollution on one hand and insurance & Liability on the other hand that difficult to see where those type attractions can come back from a pure financial perspective. Deal a lot with it in work with our own equipment, our owns crews and vendors/mechanics on the water. It gets much more involved and things get much more scrutinized when paying costumers, technically passengers, are involved.

Good examples may be how long it has taken to get new riverboat cruises started on Mississippi with new vessel of all things (since they had to be US built the cost was significantly more than the worldwide shipbuilding market) and why you probably won't see an old fashioned paddle wheeler, wood hull vessels come out of retirement. That essentially leaves non profits with an institution or government agency willing to back, pay to insurance and cover liabilities
^Most of the attractions were barges, moored almost permanently in place. The regulations for that are quite different. Then as now the only things that cruised were the Becky Thatcher and Tom Sawyer. The restaurants were on barges. Even the Goldenrod was, essentially, on a barge. Further, maybe half of them were for profit commercial endeavors. Everything not historic. And regulations for moored museum ships are also somewhat different. Virtually every major waterway in the US has some mix of tour boats, museum vessels, and floating commercial attractions. Historically we were no exception. No reason we need to be now. The regulations here are no more stringent than they are in San Francisco, New York, or Cincinnati. We still have a little, but we could have so much more.
One of the challenges is that there are currently no electrical or water services at the open docking locations. When they upgraded LKS, they only installed services to the existing in use locations (the helicopter pad and the riverboat tours). In order to install electric or water at the other sites, the Port authority expects the boat docking at that site to share the cost of installing new services. I don't see that happening.
Big Muddy Adventures is now offering canoe excursions... never been on the Mississippi but was on the Missouri with Big Muddy; pretty awesome.

https://www.riverfronttimes.com/artsblo ... ing-monday
I would love to see the McDonald's back on the riverfront but but I don't want the city subsidizing it at the expense of other businesses. I guarantee that if there was a profit to be made in a restaurant on a boat one would be there. One of the main goals with renovatiion was to drive increased business to the surrounding areas and I think the new development on the Landing is evidence that this might happen but only time will tell.
Speaking of McDonalds...as recent as the late 80's there were at least 5 downtown. The riverfront, St. Louis Centre, olive st, Union Station and Tucker. Now only the Tucker one is left. Just a reflection of how business has dried up.
The dinner cruise boats operated by Metro making a huge profit each year.
A riverfront barge food hall would be cool.
^Attached to a riverfront barge biergarten.
Black02AltimaSE wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 8:45 am
^Attached to a riverfront barge biergarten.
Even just a biergarten in a park downtown would be awesome. I'm forever envious of the way they have biergartens in public parks in Germany. Seems like something St. Louis should have.
Retail tends to beget retail, and traffic (or more accurately, potential customer base) drives all.

The renovations are supposed to drive foot traffic to the river - the kiosks in particular should draw people to the riverfront who want to buy stuff, but I l believe C+A+R foundation is supposed to be scheduling more events there than before, and that those in particular should draw lots of people - all of whom are potential customers. Perhaps that traffic, if properly marketed to potential retailers, could make things more attractive now than they were before.

Consider too, the raising of LKS boulevard. Any retail on the riverfront is inaccessible during flooding - and zero-revenue days (weeks, months, etc) are hard things for businesses to swallow - especially to a business like McDonalds that doesn't have to deal with that at more traditional locations (see: the one on Tucker). However, now that the boulevard is physically higher there should be fewer days where it's closed to traffic. Knowing that (if I recall correctly) 90% of the floods that used to close Lenore K Sullivan are now no longer likely to be zero-revenue days could make a barge-based business financially more feasible than it would have been a couple of years ago.

So there's some 'there' there for retailers to return. What I don't know if any of C+A+R, Downtown STL, inc, RCGA, etc. are trying to market/recruit barge- or riverboat-based retail to the riverfront as being a more attractive option now or not.

-RBB
Oh, and new permanent nearby residents in Laclede's Landing can be a selling point too - maybe not a primary one but it shoulld help for some businesses. Folks living there aren't likely to be frequent visitors of a museum or a river cruise, but a moored restaurant or other retail? I know if I lived in the Landing and had a hankering for some greasy fast food I'd much rather walk/bike down the riverfront to a restored McBarge than get in the car and drive to Tucker.

-RBB