A Modest Proposal to Connect Existing Features at the Arch Grounds

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on RedditEmail this to someone

Alex iPhone 360With $577 million dollars worth of improvements being proposed to the Arch grounds, here is a small, simple possibility.

Most of the time, the industrial castle of a Cargill grain elevator and the candied fluorescence of the Casino Queen hotel dominate the eastward view from the Arch across the river. But behind these obstructions is the mechanism for one of the tallest fountains in the world —the Gateway Geyser. It has been there, in East St. Louis, for the last seven years.

Few visitors to the Arch even know the geyser exists — nothing on the grounds directs them to look. Even an employee stationed behind the Arch’s information desk said she only heard about it from her father, who noticed it while he was driving. With the fountain’s sporadic schedule, erupting only on certain parts of the day during certain parts of the year, having a sign that electronically counts down to each blast could make the geyser an asset to the Arch Grounds. On a small scale, a countdown could cultivate a sense of intrigue.

The Gateway Geyser took four million dollars to build, but it could take a sign to make an event out of something that already takes place. The fountain is a deserving spectacle when its active, particularly up close, blasting 8000 gallons of water into the sky each minute.

Architect Eero Saarinen originally planned for twin memorials to celebrate the union of the two sides of the river, but the eastern complement to the Arch was scrapped when funding ran out. Constructed in 2005, the Gateway Geyser and its surrounding landscape, the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park, were meant as the long-awaited fruition of Saarinen’s dream.

Though the two Gateway monuments remain alienated, something as ancillary and inexpensive as a countdown sign could do a lot of work to link them. On a windless day, the fountain reaches a height of six hundred feet, aligning with the acme of the Arch.

Gateway Geyser from the Illinois side of the river:

MVVA 01/26/11 Arch grounds design update

More images of the Gateway Geyser via Google image search and Flickr photo forums.

Pin It

Disqus Debug thread_id: 973050748

  • T-Leb

    On CityArchRiver website, under this last photo, it says a tram will be made post 2015… is that still part of the project? So many unanswered questions… at least for me.

  • John

    I really like the geyser and park, though it’s annoying to show up have the wind screw you out of an eruption. Also, I understand why it’s important to make the platform accessible, but if they would have just included a stairway in addition to the ramp I could save myself a lot of time and work getting to the top. I wish they could bury the power lines just in front of the platform, too. Sort of an eyesore on an otherwise picturesque scene. Minor quibbles with an otherwise awesome place. We watched the air show from there last year. It was pretty packed – I’d say quite a few people know about it.

  • Gary Kreie

    A countdown timer is a great idea. People would look across to see it, and then may drive over there to see it up close.

    Add signposts as you come out of the Arch parking garage leading to the Geyser. It is very easy to get to — as you come out of the garage, just cross the historic Eads bridge and then make an immediate left on the other side and go back under the Eads bridge and right along the river to the geyser.

    Go here and then click the “include large map” at the top.
    http://tinyurl.com/bogngtc