You are required to submit a book review on Gateway Arch. The book review should be 750-1000 words long.

Review on Gateway Arch

It should cover the following elements: first, a clear identification of the author’s main point, or THESIS; second, the DEVELOPMENT, or the manner in which the author proves the thesis; finally, your CRITIQUE of the work.

Book Review

The author of the book Tracy Campbell elaborates about Gateway Arch in St. Louis which is a monument mostly revered for western expansion in America. The arch is heightened at 630 feet and is deemed to attract millions of tourists, and it is famous in the whole world. Campbell tends to uncover the complicated and very troubling history about this structure through a cultural, political and social perspective. The book makes an examination on how many crucial participants within the divergent motivation in relation to their ambitions, greed and civic pride led to the fruition of the Gateway Arch but at a price that the country is paying constantly.


Tracy Campbell examines how the vital participants in the different motivations in relation to their civic pride, greed and ambition led the Gateway Arch to fruition but at a price that the country was left to pay regularly. This is a clear explanation that there existed authorities who were behind the building of the Arch who led to the success of its construction and also the fact that people are still paying the price for its development. This statement is the center of discussion in the whole book. Additionally, the statement is used to reveal to the people more about the arch.

Proof of the Thesis

He starts by putting the gateway within the situation of the current history. In the process of developing his argument, he answers comprehensive questions concerning the arch, like “Who benefitted from its construction? Who lost?” (3). The author tries to answer these questions by clearly identifying those who profited from the construction of the memorial, who are the local real estate developers and the architect who designed the arch, Eero Saarinen. He also mentions the people who lost, especially those who owned houses and carried out businesses in the area that the arch was built, the people who were willing to preserve the history of the country, African Americans, and even the city of St. Louis. Moving away from the traditional urban histories through a close examination of the built environment, he challenges the reader who have questions centered on the landscape like “what was there before,” and why food the cities look the way they are.

According to him, “the Gateway Arch came from a grand and failed experiment in urban planning” (3). The legislators at St. Louis did not find a good thing to do with the land standing adjacent to the river long before the conception of the design by Saarinen and it was a problem that came from making the city the modern trading post. In general, Tracy Campbell underplayed the issue of race in St. Louis. In the first chapter, he mentions briefly that the city was segregated from the laws of Jim Crow, and then he explains a situation where one plot to improve the conditions of St. Louis included setting up a parkway through the riverfront district so that they could displace the population which was mostly African Americans. The white Opponents curtailed this only by using the threat of invasions by the blacks to their white neighbors.


The author, Tracy Campbell, presents us with a story full of drama, encompassed with obstacles that the Gateway Arch had to go through to come into being. In my opinion, the writer writes this book intending to bring out the truth that the construction of the arch as a tourist attraction site was advised from a different angle compared to reality. He says that “tourists are presented with a mythical version of history” (1). To express this in a different way, a country that was passing through a hard time after the WWII and the Korean War, and a lot of buildings in the part of the downtown that was abandoned. The project was opposed mostly by the city, and a very long list of setbacks was listed among them being the social problems and the racial problems. These problems were so much that the constructor failed to achieve the completion of the work. This is where we are left wondering about the true history behind the monument. What was there before? What was the main beneficiary of the arch? Who really went through a loss, and what was the situation like?

After the occurrence of World War II, the city might have focused its efforts on rebuilding the front of the river with a monument which they referred to as a Gateway Arch. But now the big question is did the author really provide us with the full details about the arch or they were just scanty and only focused on what the general public wanted. The story behind this arch still remained unknown because most people believe there was more than just building it. Some critics say it was to hide the effect of the war, while others say it was a way of removing the black Americans from the city of St. Louis.


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