The Making of An Icon: The Dreamers, the Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch

November 18, 2014 Posted by: Tom Dewey, Librarian

The Making of An Icon: The Dreamers, the Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch, by Jim Merkel. St. Louis: Reedy Press, 2014.

The Making of An Icon: The Dreamers, the Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch compiles stories from many viewpoints offering a fresh look at the history of the making of the country’s tallest man-made monument. Author Jim Merkel’s approach is to gather many individual stories that tell a much bigger one when read from cover to cover. Many books have been written about the Arch, but very few have captured the spirit behind its conception and construction as well as Merkel has in this book.

The author examines the stories behind the long and sometimes exhausting effort to bring the memorial to the riverfront area of St. Louis. Some of the topics include: the transportation system within the Arch legs, the selection of the Arch design, architect Eero Saarinen, the triangular shape of the Arch sections, demolition of buildings on riverfront grounds, labor disputes, and of course, tales of Arch construction.  

The author lives in St. Louis and thus provides much local color in his writing. Merkel is clearly a fan of the monument and his hometown and it comes through in this book. The story of the Arch is a compelling one and the author’s journalistic background and skill at telling human interest stories add a lot to the facts and figures he supplies throughout this engaging and entertaining book.


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