ST. LOUIS — Looking back at downtown St. Louis in 1935, housing and commercial buildings made of brick packed the landscape.
That same year, the federal government decided to clear 36 city blocks to create a memorial to westward expansion.
In 1948, an international design contest was announced, and architect Eero Saarinen's simple but majestic stainless-steel arch or rainbow was chosen, symbolizing the link between the two halves of the country.
Downtown St. Louis looked almost bare after the land was cleared. All that remained after site prep was the Old Cathedral.
There was $30 million designated for the project. Construction began on Feb. 12, 1963, which is 59 years ago this month. Saarinen would not live to see that day. He died in 1961.
The legs of the Gateway Arch were joined on June 17, 1965, as hundreds of St. Louisans, including Mayor A.J. Cervantes, gathered to watch cranes raise a 58-ton strut.
Once in place, engineers granted our camera crew, including photographer Dick Deeken, soundman Maurice Hurley and reporter Chris Condon, a trip to strut level.
Our camera caught some other big projects underway downtown at the time. Busch Memorial Stadium was under construction, as were the Poplar Street Bridge and the Mansion House complex.
It was the beginning of the rebirth of downtown.
Finally, on Oct. 28, 1965, the Gateway Arch would be complete.