St. Louisan Jim Merkel's books "Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side" and "Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans" both offer an entertaining, light-hearted look at St. Louis history. Now Merkel turns his attention to our beloved national monument in "The Making of an Icon: the Dreamers, the Schemers, and the Hard Hats who Built the Gateway Arch."
Merkel writes about the civic boosters who proposed a monument, Eero Saarinen and his winning design, and the construction workers. His style is informal, and he packs dozens of interesting anecdotes into brief chapters. The book is heavily illustrated and takes the history all the way to the present plans for renovating the Arch grounds.
While some stories may be familiar, Merkel includes some lesser-known facts. Many know that Percy Green staged a protest by climbing the Arch while it was under construction. I didn't know that Green had worked out the schedule to give himself enough time to get arrested, make bail, and still make it to work at midnight. Also a ten-year-old future mayor, Francis Slay, watched the completion of the Arch on a television at Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic School.
"The Making of an Icon" is another fun St. Louis history from Jim Merkel and local publisher Reedy Press.
--Jennifer A., Headquarters