Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Administrative History
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Administrative History
Bob Moore

Chronology - East Side Expansion Effort

Compiled by Michael A. Capps


The City of East St. Louis Planning Department calls for a narrow park on the riverfront, surrounded by industrial facilities, and also proposes a black heritage museum.

July 1964

The Illinoistown master plan for the east side riverfront is published. It recommends establishing a complex for education and recreation on a 524 acre site across from Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.


The PACE plan for urban development is designed to transform East St. Louis. This is prepared under the sponsorship of local civic organizations and focuses on the potential of the riverfront. It outlines an education park, transport museum, and athletic fields surrounded by industrial and high density residential areas. A dollar figure of $750 million is based on 1966 estimates.

March 1967

Relocation of the railroad tracks and facilities is proposed. An analysis is made of ways through which the railroad can be relocated; this advocates the development of the east side as a natural adjunct to JEFF.

Dec. 11, 1967

United States Representative Melvin Price (R-IL) asks for an investigation of the historic value of the East St. Louis riverfront as a first step toward the creation of a national park.

April 24,

The results of the east side investigation are submitted to Secretary


of the Interior Walter Hickel.

July 1969

Secretary Hickel instructs the National Park Service to conduct a suitability/feasibility study for an east side national park.


The NPS completes a suitability/feasibility study. It proposes four alternatives: a city park; a state park; an extension of JEFF; and a national urban demonstration park. The first two are dropped from consideration due to lack of local funding. It is concluded that the east side cannot stand alone as an entity of national significance; thus an extension of JEFF is the recommended proposal.


The NPS completes a Statement for Management and Planning (Management Objectives) based on the selected alternative.


The NPS contracts with R.W. Booker Associates to produce a master plan based on the selected alternative. The Midwest Regional Office of the NPS recommends that the NPS not proceed with the plan.


The NPS prepares a Special Study of the East Side, cooperatively funded by the City of East St. Louis. Identified actions that could potentially increase NPS involvement are: the acquisition of a recommended 55 acre area between Eads Bridge and the Poplar Street Bridge, along the riverfront; strong cooperation with any other area planning; a cross-river transportation system; no NPS development will take place until the railroads and industrial facilities are acquired or relocated by other parties. In general, the NPS is not enthusiastic about the project; cost estimates are approximately $25.3 million.

March 15, 1983

Rep. Melvin Price introduces a bill to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to enlarge JEFF. The NPS opposes the bill due to a perceived "lack of national significance" and high costs.

November 1983

Congress authorizes $100,000 for the NPS to conduct a feasibility study for a Museum of American Culture and Anthropology. The study is prepared by the NPS' Denver Service Center and the Washington Office Park Planning and Special Studies Division.


The Reagan administration opposes the expansion of JEFF, and claims it is nothing more than an urban renewal project.

February 9, 1984

The House of Representatives endorses a bill authorizing the NPS to spend $2 million for the purchase of up to 350 acres, with an option to accept an additional 52 acres owned by private developers.

February 10, 1984

The House Subcommittee on Public Lands endorses the expansion of JEFF and adds $2.74 million for land and site improvements. Rep. Price's original bill is amended to add $2 million for land acquisition and $750,000 for renovation of a freight house for use as a visitor center; it also calls for an east side Commission and a plan to be completed within 2 years.

March 22, 1984

The scope of the east side project is reduced to gain approval; money is reduced to $1 million and land to 100 acres.

June 1984

Support for the bill grows in the Senate, but only with the agreement that land acquisition will be delayed for two years; $350,000 is authorized for annual operating costs and up to $500,000 is to be matched by nonfederal money for renovation and landscaping.

August 24, 1984

President Reagan signs Public Law 98-398, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Amendments Act, which authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to designate up to 100 acres on the east side as an enlargement of JEFF. It also mandates the creation of a Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Commission to develop a plan for the East St. Louis addition.

March 5, 1985

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Commission (JNEMC) charter is signed by the Secretary of the Interior as required by the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

March 12, 1985

The JNEMC Charter is forwarded to the House and Senate Interior Congressional Committees and the Library of Congress.

October 8, 1985

Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel appoints the members of the JNEMC.

Nov. 25-26, 1985

The first meeting of the JNEMC is held. Denver Service Center (DSC) presents a Base Data Planning Project under contract with TDP, Inc. DSC is acting as the Commission's agent. Ron Stephens is elected as the Commission's chairman.

March 24, 1986

The JNEMC holds its second meeting, and allocates $50,000 to the NPS to begin planning for development.

June 26, 1986

The NPS selects Economics Research Associates of Vienna, Virginia, as the prime contractor for the East St. Louis Museum Suitability Study.

July 8-9, 1986

The NPS and Economics Research Associates hold planning meetings.

July 28, 1986

The JNEMC holds its third meeting. Among the topics discussed: fundraising, design competition, and the status of the museum study.

Aug. 14-16, 1986

The JNEMC sponsors informational meetings to solicit public comments. Approximately 1,500 copies of a planning booklet, with a mail-back comment sheet, are distributed.

Aug. 17-20, 1986

A Museum Theme Alternatives Charette is held to reach an agreement concerning the selection of potential themes for the East St. Louis Museum Study. Attendees include museum specialists, NPS staff, and other interested parties.

October 1986

The JNEMC sends out its first newsletter, with news of planning efforts.

Dec. 1, 1986

The JNEMC Sub-committee on Design Competition meets with Paul Sprieregen, a nationally known competition consultant, to acquire technical assistance on preparations for the design competition. Sprieregen suggests an international competition, and estimates the cost at $400,000 and the time required at 15-18 months. The Sub-committee asks Sprieregen to draft a specific proposal outlining in detail at least four steps that will be required (fact finding, development of an overall competition plan, a competition announcement, and competition implementation).

Dec. 8, 1986

The JNEMC holds its fourth meeting. The NPS presents six development alternatives: a Gateway Park, consisting of a grand open area on the east bank serving as a backdrop and viewing platform for the Gateway Arch; a Gateway Monument, consisting of a complementary monumental feature on the east bank, directly across from the Arch; a Gateway Museum/National Museum, consisting of a major national museum managed by a nonprofit organization; a Gateway Museum/NPS Museum, consisting of an expansion of the existing Museum of Westward Expansion; a Gateway Heritage Park, which would focus on the diverse cultural and natural resources along the East St. Louis riverfront; and a Gateway Plaza, which would mix commercial uses with open spaces. The Commission selects the Gateway Museum/National Museum alternative, assuming it is feasible.

January 1987

The Museum Suitability Study is completed. Four theme alternatives are proposed: 1. A "First Americans Museum" to examine the movement of American Indian peoples and adaptation problems associated with this movement prior to European contact; and the accelerated cultural dynamics that occurred during and after European settlement. 2. A "Museum of American Settlement" to tell the story of European-Americans and the involuntary African-American immigrants, their settlement patterns, cultural interaction and change. 3. A "Museum of American Landscape and Man" which would be a study of the North American landscape and its changes under human settlement. 4. A "Museum of American 20th Century Culture" which would broadly cover the theme a "nation in motion."

March 1987

An Ad Hoc Committee is established for the purpose of organizing, promoting, and directing the International Design Competition, under the aegis of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Members include the Sub-committee on Future Planning and Implementation of the JNEMC; a representative from the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association; a representative from the Jefferson National Expansion Historical Association; and a representative from the AIA.

Feb. 27, 1987

The JNEMC holds its fifth meeting. Topics discussed include: a presentation on the Museum Study and a review of the NPS draft report. A motion is passed which states: "The Commission has taken into account the suitability study for the Museum of American Culture and Anthropology in East St. Louis, IL. It supports the concept of a museum as part of the development of the memorial."

May 28, 1987

JEFF Assistant Superintendent Gary W. Easton, Ron Johnson, and Jan Harris of DSC, meet with 10 citizens to review the draft Development and Management Plan for the proposed east side addition. Representatives from Continental Grain Company; Technic-Op, the development firm responsible for the Rivergate Apartment complex; and other local businessmen interested in riverfront redevelopment are in attendance. No media or JNEMC members are present.

May 29, 1987

JEFF Superintendent Jerry Schober, Artis Talley (member of the JNEMC) and 12 people speak about plan implementation. The draft plan receives praise from Barry Freedman, executive director of Target 2000, an East St. Louis business association, and Delmar Valine of the Southwest Regional Port District. A news reporter and two staff members, who represent local legislators, also attend.

June 17, 1987

Senator Alan J. Dixon (IL) writes to Secretary of the Interior Hodel endorsing the plan.

June 19, 1987

Representative William L. Clay (IL) writes to Secretary Hodel endorsing the plan.

June 22, 1987

Senator Paul Simon (IL) writes to Secretary Hodel endorsing the plan.

June 26, 1987

Andrew E. Newman of Downtown St. Louis Inc., writes to Secretary Hodel endorsing the plan.

July 8, 1987

Representative Melvin Price (IL) writes to Secretary Hodel endorsing the plan.

July 14, 1987

Willie B. Nelson of Target 2000 writes to Secretary Hodel endorsing the plan.

July 15, 1987

Mike O'Bannon, Special Assistant and Comptroller to the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, who is the new representative from the Interior Secretary, praises the quality of the plan and asserts his support when the JNEMC formally transmits the document to the Secretary.

August 3, 1987

Senator Christopher Bond (MO) writes to Secretary Hodel endorsing the plan.

August 11, 1987

The JNEMC unanimously approves the plan.

August 13, 1987

The Terminal Railroad Association objects to the plan in a letter to JEFF.

August 14, 1987

The Terminal Railroad Association objects to the plan in letters to Senators Dixon and Simon of Illinois and John Danforth of Missouri.

August 18, 1987

Governor John Ashcroft (MO) writes to Secretary Hodel endorsing the plan.

Sept. 16, 1987

The JNEMC submits the final Development and Management Plan to the Secretary of the Interior.

Feb. 23, 1988

Malcolm Martin of the Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis writes to Secretary of the Interior Donald P. Hodel, and offers to donate approximately 50 acres of land for the east side project.

April 20, 1988

Illinois Governor James R. Thompson writes to Secretary of the Interior Hodel to inform him of key commitments by his state in assuring that a national park is developed on the east side, and tells of the creation of the Southwest Illinois Development Authority (SWIDA), an independently-appointed entity with the ability to develop the non-park areas of the East St. Louis riverfront. SWIDA has the authority to issue development bonds backed by the State of Illinois. The purchase and development of 200 acres surrounding the proposed park is one of its primary responsibilities.

June 17, 1988

The Director of the NPS sends the Development and Management Plan to the Secretary of the Interior, who forwards it to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the U.S. Senate. He does not, however, officially approve it.

Sept. 15, 1988

In a letter to the JNEMC, the Secretary of the Interior says: "Because the acquisition of binding commitments has proven to be an elusive goal, I must withhold my final approval until those commitments are obtained, pursuant to the law." The Interior Department further outlines 14 steps that are necessary for the plan and states: "This will take years to accomplish."

April 18, 1989

H.R. 2028 is introduced "To amend the Act of May 17, 1954, relating to JEFF, to eliminate the acreage limitation on park extension, to allow the acquisition of State lands by means other than donation, to authorize increased funding for land acquisition for the East St. Louis portion of the Memorial."

April 26, 1989

George Walker III (Downtown St. Louis, Inc.); Byron Farrell (Leadership Council, Southwest Illinois); Tom Berkshire (Office of Gov. James Thompson); John H. Poelker (Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis); and James Bogart (St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association) meet with Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan and request that he approve the plan, advise the President to sign the JEFF Amendments Act of 1989, and to visit JEFF and see the site.

August 1989

Secretary Lujan says he will designate the site if the lands are donated and if they are free of any environmental hazards. He maintains, however, that Illinois and East St. Louis have not made "binding commitments."

Sept. 26, 1989

The Illinois Governor's Office agrees to request the State EPA to perform toxic chemical surveys on east side lands.

Feb. 15, 1990

SWIDA accepts donations of property from the Gateway Center and the Southwest Regional Port District to hold in escrow for the park.

April 5, 1990

St. Louis businessman Bill Maritz meets with President George Bush and White House Chief of Staff John Sununu, to brief them on the East St. Louis proposal and to seek support for NPS designation.

April 16, 1990

The Illinois EPA completes an environmental assessment on a portion of the east side lands, and reports no hazardous materials are present.

Nov. 1, 1990

NPS Director James Ridenour, SWIDA chairman Earl Lazerson, and Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan sign a Memorandum of Understanding whereby SWIDA promises to acquire land for donation and to obtain the binding financial commitments required for final approval. Lujan promises to designate the site once the lands are donated.

November 1990

SWIDA holds meetings with the Terminal Railroad Association and Continental Grain Company, and obtains permission for an environmental analysis of their lands; Union Electric and the City of East St. Louis also give permission.

August 26, 1992

President George Bush signs a bill designating the East St. Louis extension of JEFF.

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004