John C. Guenther

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ALTON - The Hayner Public Library District recently hosted a presentation about the Gateway Arch.

John C. Guenther, an architect based in Missouri, spoke about his new book, “The Gateway Arch: An Illustrated Timeline.” The book follows 90 historical events that led to the creation of the Arch.

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“There’s many ways to describe the Gateway Arch,” Guenther said. “Certainly, it is very much iconic and distinctly American and a work of genius. But we also know it as the
Gateway to the West, and I’m sure if you have visited there, you have lots of descriptions yourself for how you would think of the Arch.”

Guenther’s presentation started in 1699 and spanned American history up to the Arch’s construction in the 1960s. He spoke about the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, which provides historical context for the Arch and its nickname, the Gateway to the West.

He also talked about how St. Louis grew and the architecture in the city, including a few famous buildings and churches that are still standing today. He explained how the Arch was designed and the decision to build the Arch on the riverfront. By combining the history with information about the architecture and construction, Guenther’s presentation aimed to paint a full picture of the Arch.

“It truly is a story of vision and determination and persistence, collaboration, creativity, innovation and comaking. It’s a beautiful example of that,” Guenther said. “It’s just a truly remarkable design and engineering marvel. I hope the next time that you’re there and you take this in, you think about all that led up to this.”

You can see a full recording of Guenther’s presentation at the beginning of this story or by clicking here.

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