News Release

National Park Service Celebrates the 101st Birthday of Dick Bowser

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Date: August 30, 2022
Contact: Pam Sanfilippo, 314-655-1634
Contact: Jenna Todoroff, 618-580-8187

“Dick Bowser is a trailblazer in innovation and invention, and will always be an important figure in Arch history,” says Pam Sanfilippo, Program Manager, Museum Services & Interpretation, Gateway Arch National Park. “Without his Tram Ride to the Top design, tens of millions of visitors to the Arch would not have had the experience of ascending 630 feet to the top of the monument. Join us on September 15th in celebrating Dick Bowser and honoring his incredible contributions to the Arch.”“Dick Bowser is a trailblazer in innovation and invention, and will always be an important figure in Arch history,” says Pam Sanfilippo, Program Manager, Museum Services & Interpretation, Gateway Arch National Park. “Without his Tram Ride to the Top design, tens of millions of visitors to the Arch would not have had the experience of ascending 630 feet to the top of the monument. Join us on September 15th in celebrating Dick Bowser and honoring his incredible contributions to the Arch.”

DICK BOWSER/TRAM HISTORY
A second-generation elevator manufacturer, Bowser was asked by Gateway Arch architect Eero Saarinen to develop a way to bring visitors to the top of the Arch and back down. The project was challenging given the curve of the Arch (it is much narrower at the top than at the base), and the fact that he had to leave room for an observation platform at the top as well as space for a stairway in case of emergencies. Although he was given just two weeks to come up with a design, Bowser’s tram ride concept was accepted by Saarinen and his team. Bowser was then hired to build and install the tram, which opened in 1967. He served as tram maintenance supervisor until 1972.

To learn more about Dick Bowser and the Tram Ride to the Top, visit https://www.nps.gov/jeff/planyourvisit/dick-bowser.htm.

BIRTHDAY EVENTS
All celebratory events are free and open to the public and will take place on Thursday, September 15.

Arch Tram Mechanics Guest Speaker Event: 1-2 p.m.
Gather in the Tram Lobby, located on the lower level of the Arch facility, to hear firsthand accounts from three tram mechanics about their work on the tram ride. Harry Breitenstein was trained into the job by Bowser himself and worked closely with him for many years. Later, Roger Smith succeeded Breitenstein as maintenance supervisor. They will be joined by current Tram Supervisor Kirk Lofland in discussing maintaining the Tram Ride to the Top and other stories from their experiences.

Ranger Talks: times to be determined
Park rangers will be on hand to share more about Bowser and the Tram Ride to the Top at several Ranger Talks throughout the day. These chats will last between 15-20 minutes. Please check with the Information Desk in the Arch Visitor Center about talk times.

Tram Stories Short Film: all day in the Tucker Theater
Before watching the award-winning documentary movie “Monument to the Dream,” which chronicles the construction of the Gateway Arch, catch a short film featuring Roger Smith and Terry Diblasi, retired tram mechanics, discussing their experiences working on the Arch tram system.

Bowser Birthday Button Coloring Station: all day
Kids are invited to color a commemorative button that celebrates Bowser’s 101st birthday, which they can also take home as a souvenir (while supplies last). The button station will be located near the giant video screens on the lower level of the Arch facility.

Free Cupcakes at the Arch Café: while supplies last
Visit the Arch Café, located on the lower level of the Arch facility, for a free mini birthday cupcake in honor of Bowser.

Discount on the “Cable Arch” at The Arch Store: all day
Own a piece of the Gateway Arch! The Arch Store, located in the lower level of the Arch facility, will offer a 25% off discount on both the small and large sizes of the popular “Cable Arch” gift. It is made from the tram cable used to transport visitors to the top of the Arch.

Selfie Station: all day
Mark the occasion with a photo op at the replica tram car in the Arch Visitor Center! Smile for a selfie with a cut-out of Bowser, and pose in front of the replica tram, which will be festively decorated in honor of Bowser’s birthday.

ARCH VISITOR REMINDERS
Visitors to the Arch must enter the monument at the new glass west entrance, which faces the Old Courthouse. The Arch legs are exits only. Entrance to the Arch Visitor Center and the Museum at the Gateway Arch is free. All visitors must pass through an airport-style security checkpoint to get to the lower level of the Arch facility.

The Tram Ride to the Top of the Arch sells out early and often. Visitors are strongly encouraged to purchase tram ride tickets in advance at gatewayarch.com/buytickets. Please plan to arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of your scheduled tram time. For more information, visit nps.gov/jeff or gatewayarch.com, or call 877-982-1410.

Parking: Arch parking is available at the Stadium East Garage, located at 200 S. Broadway, St. Louis, MO 63102, for a fee. Visit iparkit.com/TheArch to pre-purchase parking with no validation required. If parking is not pre-purchased, validation is required by scanning/stamping parking tickets at one of two validators located inside the Arch Visitor Center. With each parking purchase at the Stadium East Garage, $1 will go to support ongoing conservation and preservation efforts, educational opportunities, and community programs at Gateway Arch National Park through Gateway Arch Park Foundation.

Metered street parking is also located near Gateway Arch National Park.


ABOUT GATEWAY ARCH NATIONAL PARK: The Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse are part of Gateway Arch National Park, located on the riverfront in downtown St. Louis. The Gateway Arch features the Tram Ride to the Top, the Museum at the Gateway Arch, the documentary film Monument to the Dream, The Arch Store and The Arch Café. It is operating in its summer hours of 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Labor Day. The Old Courthouse is currently closed. The park is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Most programs are FREE of charge and open to the public. Programs and events at the park are made possible by the generous support from park partners Gateway Arch Park Foundation, Jefferson National Parks Association and Bi-State Development. For Tram Ride to the Top and Documentary Movie tickets, go online to gatewayarch.com, call 877-982-1410 or visit the ticket counter in the Arch Visitor Center.


 



Last updated: August 30, 2022

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