Monument to the Dream gives the construction workers behind an American design icon their proper due.

Welcome to the latest installation of “Public Access,” where CityLab shares its favorite videos—old and new, serious and nutty—that tell a story about place.

After years of work, a better Arch experience in St. Louis has finally arrived.

As described in great detail by Zach Mortice earlier this year for CityLab and more recently by Curbed’s Alexandra Lange, Gateway Arch National Park now has a refreshed 91-acre site, from its landscape design to its museum and visitor center. The centerpiece, Eero Saarinen’s 630-foot stainless-steel tribute to America’s westward expansion, remains flawless.

As part of the experience today, Arch visitors get to watch Monument to the Dream, a 1967 documentary film about its construction. With dramatic visuals directed by Charles Guggenheim and the confident vocals of narrator Paul Richards, it’s hard not to feel inspired by the labor that made it all happen. Richards at one point describes the workers in the film as “men closer in kin to the trappers and pioneers than they knew. They, too, were a mixed and scattered breed, men given to roaming and reshaping the face of the land.”

As the film concludes, Richards reads American historian Bernard Augustine DeVoto’s words on Lewis and Clark’s return from their western exploration in 1805 to describe the people who completed the arch made in their honor 160 years later:

By strength and skill and valor they rolled the unknown back before them. They were too weary, uncomfortable, and much too seasoned to rejoice. But the idea in the restless mind of Thomas Jefferson had been given flesh. Meriwether Lewis’s dream had come true. And the thing was done.

The camera then pulls back as the sun sets, showing St. Louis with its newest—and instantly most beloved—structure.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo-illustration of several big-box retail stores.
    Equity

    After the Retail Apocalypse, Prepare for the Property Tax Meltdown

    Big-box retailers nationwide are slashing their property taxes through a legal loophole known as "dark store theory." For the towns that rely on that revenue, this could be a disaster.

  2. A photo of a mural in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
    Life

    Stop Complaining About Your Rent and Move to Tulsa, Suggests Tulsa

    In an effort to beef up the city’s tech workforce, the George Kaiser Family Foundation is offering $10,000, free rent, and other perks to remote workers who move to Tulsa for a year.

  3. A photo of British Prime Minister Theresa May announcing her government's Brexit deal outside No. 10 Downing Street
    Equity

    Britain Finally Has a Brexit Deal. Everyone Hates It.

    Amid resignations, it's clear the U.K. government massively misjudged how leaving the European Union would play out.

  4. The charred remnants of a building in Paradise, California, destroyed by the Camp Fire.
    Environment

    How California Cities Can Tackle Wildfire Prevention

    Wildfires like Camp and Tubbs are blazing with greater intensity and frequency, due to factors including climate change and urban sprawl. How can cities stay safe?

  5. A man walks down the Zeedjik.
    Equity

    How a Dutch Housing Agency Rescued an Amsterdam Street From the Drug Trade

    Frustrated by rampant heroin trade, residents of the street Zeedijk forced a public-private real-estate partnership to protect the street while preventing community displacement.