Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, USA
27.02.2002 - 08.03.2002
Seeing the Arch for the first time in person, I must admit that it wasn’t at all what I expected. I had seen it many times on TV, and it always appeared white. This made me assume that it was made of concrete. Walking towards the Arch, even from blocks away, I realized all my assumptions were to be shattered. First of all, the Arch is silver, not white. Arriving at the base of the Arch, I knocked on it and got the metallic ting – the whole thing was made of metal, not cement at all.
After years of seeing the Arch from the camera on top of Busch stadium or from the Goodyear Blimp, I was unprepared for how tall it actually was. It appeared to be very thin at the top of the Arch, but I realized it was just perspective playing a trick on me – the Arch is so tall that the top appears only a few feet wide, even though it is much wider than that.
The final shocking thing about the Arch was that it appeared to be twisted at the top, kind of like a giant half mobius sticking out of the ground.
The first time I saw the Arch was at night with floodlights shining on it. Approaching it from the West, it was glowing against the black background of the night sky, and the lack of lights on the Mississippi River and in East St. Louis. I stood underneath the Arch and faced south – my left foot stood in the east, my right foot in the west, my body split down the middle by the symbol of the gateway between them. I looked east, towards my home in Toronto, a crowded city full of bad memories. It felt like the past. Then I looked to the west, down highway 70 to Denver, over the mountains and all the way to California. The west was full of new cities with wide streets and clean air – it felt like the future.