Snapshots: Walker Speaker Informs St. Louis Audience of Gateway Arch Backstory

| March 30, 2015
Tracy Campbell's presentation outlined unknown facts from his award-winning book about the iconic St. Louis landmark, the Gateway Arch.

Campbell’s presentation outlined unknown facts from his award-winning book concerning the history of the iconic St. Louis landmark, the Gateway Arch.

On March 27, the Walker School hosted University of Kentucky history professor Tracy Campbell for a presentation about the Gateway Arch. A renowned historian, Campbell is the author of The Gateway Arch: A Biography, examining the complicated history of St. Louis’ signature monument. The Gateway Arch was also chosen as one of the “Best Books of 2013″ by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and won the 2014 Missouri History Book Award.

Benjamin Akande, dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology, opened the event by welcoming guests and introducing Campbell. He said that while few of the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the Arch each year understand the monument’s complicated history, Campbell’s book brings to light the true origins and meaning of this icon.

Campbell began his presentation by sharing the reason why he chose to research the history of the Arch.  ”Behind every great building is the story of what was there before,” he said.

Envisioned in 1947 but not completed until the mid-1960s, Campell described the Arch grounds as, “Some of the most contested soil in U.S. history.” The reason, he explained, was because of the social, political and cultural factors at play during this time. “The Arch is deeply ironic. It is huge and a magnificent work of public art, but it is also symbolic of a flawed strategy of city renewal.”

Walker School dean Benjamin Akande and associate dean Peter Maher with Tracy Campbell (center.)

Walker School dean Benjamin Akande and associate dean Peter Maher with Tracy Campbell (center.)

In addition to discussing the construction of the Arch, Campbell offered insight into the life of architect Eero Saarinen, whose prize-winning design brought him acclaim but also charges of plagiarism. While Saarinen never lived to see the completion of his vision, Campbell described him as a sculptor at-heart and said the Arch was his greatest sculpture.

Following the presentation, Campbell took questions from guests and signed copies of his book. A video recording of the presentation will be available on the Walker School’s website in April.

Read the full story at the Walker School blog.

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Category: Campus Snapshots, St. Louis Campus News

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