Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
Administrative History
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Administrative History
Sharon A. Brown


Symbolically speaking memorial supporters could, in 1949, see the light at the end of the tunnel — the railroad tunnel. Surely with Eero Saarinen's plan now in hand the city and the railroads could agree on an action to move the tracks in a way satisfactory to the Federal Government. The best plan proposed so far recommended placing the tracks into a tunnel running diagonally across the memorial, and with this the project's proponents hoped to head for Washington, D.C., for authorization and appropriation. The time seemed ripe for a fund allocation, with the war over and imminent prosperity beckoning. Missourian Harry Truman's presence in the White House added significantly to this feeling among memorial supporters. Surely the project's completion was near.

Several developments made the situation look hopeful. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had begun making core borings at the points of the triangular base section of the Gateway Arch. The action provoked much local publicity. National Park Service personnel in St. Louis received detailed plans for the development from Eero Saarinen, which included alignments for a railroad tunnel diagonally across the area. Saarinen continued to oppose the recent La Beaume-Terminal Plan which provided for three tracks on a contained fill along the lines of the elevated tracks; Park Service officials agreed with his objections. [1] Instead, they favored either the Bowen Plan or the Bates-Ross Plan, both of which called for the tracks being placed in a tunnel diagonally across the memorial area. Differences between the two plans lay in the connections at both the north and south ends of the property. Julian Spotts believed the Terminal Railroad Association's counsel Richmond Coburn to be making a sincere effort to solve the problem. Spotts wanted to leave the name-calling behind, start from "scratch," and give out no publicity until there was a tentative agreement. Flexibility remained Spotts' creed, for he thought it might be fatal to the negotiations if he adhered rigidly to only one plan. His office preferred the Bates-Ross Plan, but remained willing to accept the Bowen Plan if the TRRA preferred it. Eero Saarinen agreed to adjust his memorial plans to fit the railroad scheme adopted. [2]

Spotts did not know if the negotiations would be successful, but he believed the TRRA wanted to cooperate, possibly being forced to do so by public opinion. Finding a solution would not be easy, but Spotts thought the outlook to be more hopeful now than at any other time in the project's history. There existed no alternative to placing the tracks in a tunnel if they were to be eliminated from sight. Saarinen impulsively stated he would not want to be architect for the memorial if the tracks separated the memorial from the river. Director Newton Drury reaffirmed the Department of the Interior's opposition to the tracks remaining between the area and the river and any design which provided parking facilities other than those essential to the operation and interpretation of the memorial. [3]

Optimism soon faded. By April all the involved interests again began stalling to gain leverage in the negotiations. TRRA counsel Coburn wanted to avoid introducing an enabling act into Congress because he believed it would prejudice the possibility of reaching an agreement favorable to the TRRA. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association's tentative draft contained two major difficulties for the railroad. It made the memorial's improvements conditional upon the Saarinen plan, and it provided that the relocation costs be borne, not by the Federal Government, but by the other interests involved. The railroads balked, saying they would not approve any tunnel plan. The National Park Service responded that they would not agree to the La Beaume Terminal plan. Eero Saarinen was again consulted and asked if he could approve more changes in his plans to accommodate the railroad. In May, Julian Spotts conceded that the prospects had dissolved and that negotiations apparently would continue indefinitely. He could not predict the problem's solution or a date of agreement. [4]

An uproar occurred in June. In a meeting with the association at city hall, Frank J. McDevitt, president of the Board of Public Service, submitted another modified railroad relocation plan. He wanted to lower the tracks and place them in a 1,500 foot cut immediately in front of the Arch, shielded by retaining walls and landscaping. The plan, labeled the Levee-Tunnel Plan, took the association by surprise. Spotts' and Saarinen's plan to place the tracks in a tunnel under the area between Second and First Streets was now called the Hill-Tunnel Plan. Eero Saarinen came to St. Louis to state his views in conferences with various officials. For days Saarinen objected to the Levee-Tunnel plan, while the railroad officials blasted the Hill-Tunnel plan as too hazardous for operation. Finally, at a much publicized meeting in the mayor's office on July 7, the city went for the Levee-Tunnel plan. All three city newspapers reported this as the tentative agreement, even though it was simply city officials praising the plan. Railroad representatives said they would cooperate, Spotts and Saarinen expressed their unhappiness, association members said nothing. No mention was made by anyone about costs. [5] On July 8 Saarinen met again with city officials to study the Levee-Tunnel plan, which he did not like, but which he said he would try to work with to achieve the best possible development. He made several technical propositions, such as placing more tracks in the tunnel to make the plan aesthetically acceptable. [6]

Politics played a major role in the scenario. Association members believed that McDevitt's Levee-Tunnel plan had been deliberately railroaded through by city and TRRA officials when Luther Ely Smith was on vacation and not present at the meeting. Association President William Crowdus' stand was that the group could not in good conscience agree in principle to the Levee-Tunnel Plan. Saarinen was placed on the spot to defend his plan, but his view was not considered. It became evident to association members that Mayor Joseph Darst and city officials were determined to get the Levee-Tunnel plan adopted. Crowdus believed it all had been set up for political reasons. [7] National Park Service representatives had also not been included in the discussions, prompting Julian Spotts to suspect that whatever final plan the city and railroads agreed to would not be satisfactory to the Park Service. He was right, but Eero Saarinen continued to both revise his design and point out the problems connected with having the tracks in a tunnel on the riverfront. The competition set the park's design to a certain extent, such as in the plan for the Arch; however, several other features could yet be changed, and Saarinen feared that the railroad tunnel would interfere with these features. The question of underground parking remained unsolved, as did the final treatment of the restaurants, museums, frontier village, and levee. As far as Saarinen was concerned, "The ideal way for achieving a completely integrated design, in detail as well as in broad outline is to keep the solutions of all the component parts fluid until we know as much as we ever will about the programs of each one of them." [8]

Mayor Joseph Darst took the first step after the meeting. He contacted Secretary of the Interior Julius Krug and informed him that the Levee-Tunnel Plan had been adopted in principle. Darst enclosed a compendium of facts giving details as to the memorial's history and proposals for expediting the project. He recommended that a corporation be formed with the authority to deal with all phases of construction, maintenance, and operation. This corporation could also construct a garage for parking on the memorial site. Darst also wanted the back taxes on the property in the area (approximately $300,000) to be considered as a city contribution, to be matched three to one by the Federal Government. The average value of the streets and alleys vacated by the city for use by the memorial were also to be matched in value three to one, and the Old Courthouse and the property on which it stood, assessed at $1,000,000, was to be considered a city contribution to be matched three to one. [9]

Secretary Krug read the mayor's letter with "deep interest" and appreciated the fact that the city was vitally interested in the memorial project. He did not understand, however, why Darst thought a corporation would successfully manage the construction, maintenance, and operation of the project any better than the National Park Service could. Krug believed that a corporation comprised of Federal and city interests would not prove effective. Even though the Department of the Interior had cooperated with the city in every way, it was apparent to Krug that traffic, railroad, and financial matters concerning the memorial caused the city grave concern. If these matters were of such importance as to require active participation by city officials in the project's future development and administration, then Secretary Krug would join Darst in recommending that Congress legally authorize the city to take over the project, thereby insuring that no interference with city planning would take place. Krug favored this move over the formation of a corporation. If, on the other hand, Mayor Darst concluded that the National Park Service was the proper agency to oversee the memorial's completion, then Krug suggested that the mayor and members of his staff meet with service representatives to discuss other recommendations, including removal of the railroad tracks, and the underground parking problems. [10]

The controversy did not end with this exchange of correspondence. Mayor Darst was determined to get action of some sort on the riverfront, while the association played a waiting game until the city and Federal governments resolved their differences. Local National Park Service officials found "misstatements of fact and errors in logic" as they took exception to Darst's statements concerning the streets and alleys, and cost estimates. Superintendent Spotts explained the controversy surrounding the July 7 meeting to Director Drury, and analyzed the differences between the Hill-Tunnel and Levee-Tunnel plans. Spotts asserted that the Hill-Tunnel plan would cost only $500,000 more than the Levee-Tunnel. [11] Association members lamented the fact that their relationship with the city stood so low. President William Crowdus thought it "rather coincidental" that rumors of opposition to the Saarinen plan started following the railroad negotiations in July. The principal rumors were that no railroad settlement would be made, that Congress would not approve the funds, that Saarinen's arch would not be built, and that the city's businessmen opposed the Saarinen plan and felt that a stadium or housing should be built on the site instead. Luther Ely Smith was busy trying to stop such rumors. The association's only course of action was to confer with Mayor Darst, urging that the National Park Service and the Terminal Railroad Association resume negotiations. [12] Eero Saarinen kept going over the various railroad plans, attempting to eliminate the threat of rumbling trains and fumes from the memorial area. [13]

In November Secretary of the Interior Krug decided to stop in St. Louis while on a trip to Los Angeles. He and New Mexico Senator Clinton Anderson, chairman of the United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission, wished to confer with Luther Ely Smith and the association. Word of his planned arrival could not have come at a more crucial time, for renewed attacks had been made against Saarinen's Arch. Newspapers reported that Mayor Darst himself proposed that Saarinen's design should be dropped in favor of some other development, although the mayor denied this. In a letter to the Post-Dispatch, Darst stated that he favored moving ahead with the project without further delay. Association members were violently opposed to what the newspapers reported the mayor as saying. [14] Even William Wurster, at M.I.T. in Cambridge, Massachusetts, warned, "Darst is ill-advised and he will end in disaster if he has his way." [15] National Park Service officials prepared for the scheduled November 10 meeting with Secretary Krug. Four issues would be raised, including the relocation of the railroad tracks, for which the Park Service favored Saarinen's plan to place the tunnel underground, as opposed to the McDevitt plan seeking an open railroad cut. Second, the Park Service favored retaining the symbolic arch. Memorial proponents believed the arch to be essential even though the mayor and others raised questions of propriety and practicality. Third, National Park Service officials did not want to pay to provide a parking garage for local use. Last, since Secretary Krug rejected Mayor Darst's suggestion of joint administration of the area, and because of the city's great interest in the project, National Park Service officials would not object to introducing legislation transferring the entire area to the city. This would occur only if this would be the most effective way for the city to achieve its ends. [16]

After months of trying to fit the railroad schemes in with his design, Eero Saarinen finally decided to take a firm stand. Because the railroad plan finally chosen would seriously influence the park's design, Saarinen clarified his position to the National Park Service. In his estimation, any of the railroad plans that placed the tracks in an enclosed tunnel west of the memorial arch plaza could be incorporated into the project's overall design. The Hill-Tunnel plan and the Bowen plan met his approval. Conversely, plans placing the tracks on the levee created "great hardships" on his design. The Levee-Tunnel plan established a "formidable barrier" between the memorial and the levee in Saarinen's estimation, and he hoped that everything possible would be done to place the tracks where they would not conflict with the arch design. [17]

Unexpectedly, the November 10 meeting was canceled. Both the mayor and association members Smith and Crowdus had recently been to Washington to see the President, and they accused each other of canceling the meeting. Senator Anderson explained that the meeting was canceled because of the controversy over the project. In actuality, the cancellation was because of a personnel change in the Department of the Interior. [18] Secretary of the Interior Julius Krug resigned on November 11, 1949. The new secretary, Oscar L. Chapman, rescheduled the meeting for December 5 in Washington with all interests to be represented. The meeting proved to be one of the most significant in the history of the memorial. The city, the association, the railroads, and the Federal Government met to obtain an agreement on an authorization bill, to be introduced in Congress in January 1950, as well as to solve the other major uncertainties surrounding the memorial. [19]

Since no decision had ever been made as to relocation, no cost distribution had been discussed between the several interests. Armed with preliminary estimates prepared by Saarinen and Fred Severud, the National Park Service prepared to make recommendations as to their maximum participation in costs. Julian Spotts wanted to avoid any commitment to percentages of the total cost. He further believed that the Park Service should not pay any costs of moving tracks outside the area, nor should they pay all the costs of relocating tracks inside the area. The Park Service's contribution should only be in paying for excavating, lining, waterproofing, and backfilling the portion of the tunnel on memorial property. All other costs should be borne by the railroads. Spotts estimated the National Park Service's costs would be about $2,500,000. [20]

Railroad Agreement

On December 6, after a full day's negotiations on the 5th in Washington, D.C., the various groups vitally interested in the memorial's construction authorized a "Memorandum of Understanding" which was, in effect, a plan for the relocation of the surface and elevated railroad tracks extending in front of the historic site. The relocation was based on a plan designed by Eero Saarinen. The five tracks on the levee would be replaced by three tracks, one owned by the Missouri Pacific Railroad and two by the TRRA, proceeding through a tunnel not longer than 3,000 feet. The tunnel would be approximately fifty feet west of the current elevated line. The agreement would not become effective until several conditions were met. Approval of an eighteen foot vertical clearance (instead of the twenty-two feet normally required in a tunnel) had to come from the Missouri Public Service Commission. Permanent easements had to be granted by both the city and Federal Government to the Missouri Pacific Railroad and the TRRA for the track locations. The city was to be granted an easement for underground parking, while the Department of the Interior would recommend to Congress the transfer of certain areas from the memorial to the city for above-ground parking structures, if needed. No cost divisions were solved in the memorandum; but it said the document would not be effective until all parties agreed on the cost division and the project's cost as a whole. [21] Park Service officials were pleased, thinking that the agreement would serve as a satisfactory basis for future negotiations regarding cost allocations and authorizing legislation. They recommended Secretary Chapman approve the document, which he did on December 22, 1949. [22]

Major compromises had taken place, especially on the part of the National Park Service and Eero Saarinen regarding their long-held positions on both the underground parking and on the tracks remaining between the Arch and the river. At the December 5 conference in the secretary's office, the National Park Service said it held no objections to underground garages at certain locations if their construction, maintenance, and operation were performed without cost to the Federal Government. The garages could not interfere with any subsequent surface development. If city officials wanted above-ground parking, the Park Service would give them the land for such structures. [23]

An agreement about the railroad tracks did not come as easily, for the conference became deadlocked on the matter. After the meeting's breakup in the secretary's office, another conference ensued in National Park Service Associate Director Arthur Demaray's office. This meeting, too, broke up with no results. Eero Saarinen and Julian Spotts stayed together, working until 4:00 A.M. in an architect's office in Georgetown. They developed two plans that were shown to William Wurster over breakfast. On the morning of December 6, 1949, in a conference in Mayor Darst's hotel suite, they reached an agreement on one of the plans, which placed the tracks in a tunnel fifty feet west and parallel to the existing elevated trestle. [24] Thus the "Memorandum of Understanding" could claim that the plan was Saarinen's own.

Now began the campaign to have an authorization bill passed by Congress. The bill drafted earlier in the year was introduced in Congress in January. Julian Spotts wanted all preliminary work finished and construction preparations made immediately following passage of the bill. Eero Saarinen, too, knew that congressional members would want to see railroad, highway, and parking plans during the committee hearings. Yet so many uncertainties still existed that Saarinen did not know if he would design the railroad tunnel, or if the railroads would. Engineer Fred Severud's calculations on the amounts of stress and strain the Arch could endure indicated that placing the tracks next to the Arch would create more expense because of the deeper footings needed, but Severud felt assured that vibrations from the trains would not shake the Arch due to its mass and the bedrock. The design size and location of the parking garages would have to wait until the city was ready to proceed. [25]

Superintendent Julian Spotts helped Saarinen whenever possible by informing him of the exact plans needed. All details of the relocated tracks including design, location grades, allocation of costs, and approval of the Public Service Commission needed determining as soon as possible. Saarinen also needed studies of the tunnel's location with a profile of the grade lines. To stop any rumors that might jeopardize the authorization bill's passage, Spotts believed that Saarinen's plan should remain essentially the same as the one accepted in the "Memorandum of Understanding." His plan, drawn up in the early morning hours of December 6, provided that the Arch would be placed east of the railroad tunnel. There were major construction difficulties in this but they were not insurmountable. Nevertheless, Spotts assured Saarinen that if subsequent studies indicated a more desirable location, Saarinen should feel free to adopt a better solution. [26]

Jefferson's memorial appeared to be on the brink of reality. More than ten years of negotiations between the railroads and the city of St. Louis came to an end as the TRRA agreed on a solution to the track problem approved by the Federal Government. Mayor Joseph Darst took an aggressive stand to solve the situation, which hung like a pall over his city's development. By provoking action and making statements against Saarinen's design, he generated controversy and thus publicity for the memorial. The association initially labeled Darst's remarks as "sabotage" but they presented a unified front with the mayor when they went to Washington. Publicity, in the form of newspaper items, editorials (the St. Louis Star-Times ran a series of six favorable to Saarinen's Arch in November and December), and paid advertisements (purchased by the association) seeking citizen response, appeared almost daily during the last few months of the year. The project was publicized as a national affair, not local. [27] This was brought to Darst's attention with deafening reality when Secretary Krug offered to give the site back to St. Louis if their local interests were more important than the nation's. Even as late as 1949, fourteen years after the park's establishment, the possibility existed that the site might not be used for the purpose intended.

The National Park Service's long-held position on parking was altered as the city promised not to let their underground parking interfere with above surface development. Even more radical was the decision to put the tracks in a tunnel on the levee. Only a threat that the entire project might fail if no agreement were made could have influenced Park Service officials and Eero Saarinen to accept less than what they wanted. Saarinen's last minute revisions, accepted by all concerned, saved the project, at least for the time being, since memorial supporters had believed the railroad relocation to be the worst obstacle in the memorial's path.

Ailing seventy-six year old Luther Ely Smith was cheered as "Mr. Riverfront" for his work toward his dream. [28] He personally felt indebted toward Secretary Chapman for holding the conference, and praised the "earnest spirit" of the meeting's other participants which made the agreement possible. Smith's principal hope was that the authorization bill would be ready for introduction into Congress on January 3 by Representative John Sullivan. [29]

A stiff battle lay ahead. The National Park Service needed money for other more pressing problems. Many national parks stood in states of disrepair after the war years. The growing number of postwar visitors created demands on the already inadequate accommodations; many western parks needed road repairs, and money was needed for protection, maintenance, and preservation throughout the entire system. Ever present calls for cuts in government spending threatened expenditures for parks. Additionally, St. Louis itself had to convince Congress that the memorial was nationally significant and worthy of receiving Federal funds. [30]

Work on drafting an authorization bill began earlier in the year when the association sought an appropriation (pending the track removal). Since any bill had to pass judgment by each of the varied interests, the association started in February by submitting their drafts to the executive committee of the United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission. Secretary of the Interior Julius Krug and National Park Service Director Newton Drury also examined the drafts and made changes. In April 1949 Luther Ely Smith was told that Congressman John Sullivan had received a draft approved by the Department of the Interior, containing a provision that no money would be spent until the tracks were removed. Because this conflicted with the basis of the association's negotiations, Smith asked Sullivan not to introduce the bill. Meanwhile, city officials worked with TRRA representatives to resolve their objections. Julian Spotts attended so many group conferences with association members in connection with the legislation drafts that he wished for "more action and less discussion." [31] Eventually, after adoption of the "Memorandum of Understanding" in December all groups agreed on a version of the bill. [32]

Authorization Efforts

As soon as Congress convened in January 1950 Representative John B. Sullivan of Missouri introduced the bill (H.R. 6573) which was referred to the Committee on House Administration. On the Senate side Senator Clinton P. Anderson introduced the same bill (S. 2784) and it was referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration. The identical bills provided for the construction of the memorial in accordance with the plan (Saarinen's) approved by the United States Territorial Expansion Memorial Commission. The secretary of the interior would be authorized to grant easements and such sums needed to carry out the project would be appropriated. The bills called for the project's completion in 1953, the 150th anniversary of Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase. Luther Ely Smith worried that in this short session and election year, congressional members would want to get home for the primaries and general elections, and thus would avoid all issues raising economic questions. Smith feared the bill would not be passed, which would mean the loss of a year. [33]

After both bills were referred to subcommittees, Senator Anderson, Representative Sullivan, and association member Judge James Douglas watched their progress through the maze of congressional law making. Luther Ely Smith gave Representative Ken Regan (Texas), chairman of the House Library Subcommittee, full details of the project's history, stressing its public support, the lack of "competent" opposition, and its potential economic benefits. All through the ensuing battle to secure the appropriation, Smith, association members, city officials, and others with varied interests in the memorial bombarded the congressional committee members with letters, telegrams, and other messages of support for the bill. [34]

Despite his agreement with the basic bill, Secretary of the Interior Chapman recommended to both Senator Carl Hayden (Arizona), chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, and Representative Mary Norton (New Jersey), chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, that another section be added to the bill. Chapman wanted to add the provision that the project not be undertaken until an agreement was reached, satisfactory to him, providing for relocation of the tracks. Luther Ely Smith opposed adding the amendment, as he believed it would both encourage other interests to offer amendments, and would jeopardize the bill's passage. [35] The bills retained their original wording when in May Representative Ken Regan's House subcommittee scheduled a hearing on H.R. 6573. The Senate subcommittee was invited to attend. [36]

With the association paying expenses, the project's supporters gathered materials and traveled to Washington. On May 10 they submitted oral and written statements, documents, and miscellaneous material to the legislators. City officials presenting oral arguments included the current mayor, two former mayors (Dickmann and Kaufmann), the city's counselor, the comptroller, and the presidents of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Retailers of St. Louis. Railroad officials, St. Louis businessmen, state governors, and George Howe, the competition advisor, all contributed written statements. The association supplied documents pertaining to the memorial's establishment and Saarinen's winning design. Even though Representative Regan wanted Senator Theodore Green's (Rhode Island) Senate subcommittee present at the hearing, Green could not attend, and only a scant quorum was present. Nevertheless, to accommodate the St. Louisans Regan agreed to hear as much testimony as possible. Superintendent Julian Spotts attended the hearing but did not testify, and Representative Regan made arrangements to hear late testimony from Director Newton Drury. Luther Ely Smith regrettably could not attend because of illness. [37]

Six days passed while the House subcommittee considered the testimony and preferred amendments. On May 16 the committee reported the bill out favorably, but with several amendments recommended by the city, the Department of the Interior, and the committee itself. The bill now called for the project's construction, provided that the secretary of the interior be authorized to convey portions of the site to the city for an above ground parking structure. The railroads were to be relocated with limited Federal funds ($1,875,000). No appropriations would exceed $5,000,000, and only five specific elements would be completed: railroad relocation, grading and filling, landscaping, paving, and restoration of the Old Courthouse. The work was to be finished by 1953; the bill did not authorize construction of the Arch. Representative John Sullivan introduced the amended bill (H.R. 8591) into the House on May 22, 1950. [38] He kept up the pace by seeking a special meeting of the House Administration Committee to consider the bill. Sullivan wanted the authorization passed before President Harry Truman's scheduled visit to St. Louis on June 10. Truman, a member of the Thirty-fifth Division Association (a veteran's group), was to attend that organization's thirtieth reunion in St. Louis, make a major foreign policy address, and dedicate the site of Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. [39] Despite Sullivan's desires, authorization was not in hand by the dedication date.

The reunion proved to be a momentous affair in St. Louis. President Truman, walking in a parade with his fellow Thirty-fifth Division veterans from Seventeenth and Olive Streets to a reviewing stand on the east steps of the Old Courthouse, attracted crowds estimated at 250,000. In his speech he concentrated on the growing crisis in Korea (which would later seriously affect the memorial's progress). Truman dedicated the site and once inside the Old Courthouse further indicated his interest by inspecting Eero Saarinen's model. [40]

The resultant publicity given to the memorial project added irony to the fact that no authorization or appropriation existed for the memorial's main features. Mayor Joseph Darst capitalized on the publicity by telegraphing Representative Mary Norton and many other members of the House and Senate Administration Committees, telling them of the dedication and urging them to support the bill. [41] Two days later, on June 29, Representative Norton's Committee on House Administration reported favorably on H.R. 8591. Representative Regan immediately went to the House Rules Committee in an attempt to get the bill on the House floor before adjournment. [42]

His efforts proved fruitless because of an event then occurring halfway around the world. On June 25, 1950, the North Korean People's Army invaded South Korea. Within three days Seoul had fallen and the Republic of Korea's Army was shattered. On June 30, the day after the House committee's favorable report on the memorial bill, President Truman ordered United States ground forces into Korea.

As yet unaware of the effect these events would have upon his dreams, a thrilled Luther Ely Smith turned toward getting action on the Senate side for the bill which had to pass through Senator Green's subcommittee, Senator Hayden's committee, and the Senate itself. Senator Clinton Anderson began the process by introducing the amended bill (the counterpart of H.R. 8591) into the Senate (S. 3867) on July 6. The lobbying onslaught began again as association members, St. Louis businessmen, and other project supporters contacted members of the Senate subcommittee both orally and with written material supporting the project. In previous years members of the House of Representatives had been the major opponents of the project, but in 1950 the stumbling block proved to be the Senate. Two weeks after Anderson introduced the bill, the subcommittee met and failed to report out the bill. Instead, the senators decided to confer with the National Park Service to consider giving a portion of the site back to St Louis to be sold with the proceeds then being used to finish the grounds and rehabilitate the Old Courthouse. Fiscal conservatism clearly became the principal consideration; for in fact the Senate had just killed a bill for construction of a Senate Office Building to save money for the Korean Conflict. Senator Clinton Anderson could not envision his colleagues voting down their own office building and then giving money for a memorial in St. Louis. [43]

In St. Louis, association members correctly read the Senate mood and took steps to appease some of the opposition. They adopted a statement of policy requesting that everything possible be done to have the authorization bills passed, but they decided to postpone seeking an appropriation until the President of the United States or the secretary of the interior believed the time to be propitious. Association members believed that if the authorization bills died during the current congressional session, all their expenses and preparation time incurred for the House Library Subcommittee hearing would be for naught. All involved congressmen were notified of the association's statement, especially Representative Ken Regan, who continued to monitor the bill's progress in the House. [44]

Luther Ely Smith found himself caught between two crises, the one in Korea, and the climax of his own seventeen-year effort for the memorial. Smith did not want to see the memorial fail after the efforts of the past few months in Congress, so he proposed dropping the bill's clause providing for completion by 1952 in hopes of eventual passage. [45]

Senator Anderson wanted the National Park Service's opinion of the proposal to return a portion of the site and contacted Director Newton Drury, who immediately saw the implications. The reasons for developing the area according to the plan adopted by the Commission far outweighed any reasons for compromise involving reducing the site's size. The memorial's boundaries were essentially those of St. Louis at the time of the Louisiana Purchase and thus of great historical significance. Drury pointed out that reducing the memorial's size probably would result in the abandonment of Saarinen's plans. Any revision would probably produce a design resulting in an unsatisfactory national memorial. Selling the most valuable commercial property near the north end of the site would not yield enough funds to affect the project's overall cost. Drury believed that only $3,000,000 or $4,000,000 could be raised in this manner, and this at the sacrifice of the memorial's approved design. He predicted considerable protest from previous property owners if the property were released for commercial purposes. [46]

After this reply from the National Park Service, Senator Green, to avoid having the bill reported out of his subcommittee adversely, submitted it to the full committee without recommendation. Senator Anderson emphasized the association's stand on deferring the appropriation, but the full committee decided not to pursue any further action on the bill during the current session. [47] In the House the bill fared little better. Because H.R. 8591 authorized the expenditure of more than $1,000,000, it required concurrence from the House Committee on Rules, headed by Representative Adolph Sabath (Illinois), before the House could consider it. Such a ruling could not be requested by anyone except Representatives Mary Norton or Ken Regan. Norton told John Sullivan that she would immediately ask for a ruling, while Sabath told him he would grant it. Unfortunately, her doctor ordered Mary Norton to bed and Ken Regan went home to Texas to fight for reelection, so the right people were not present in Congress for the needed results. Luther Ely Smith and William Semsrott believed they should not ask Regan to apply for a ruling because of the association's policy concerning appropriations and the completion date, unless they had President Truman's support for such legislation. [48] But Harry Truman's concerns were in Korea, not St. Louis. By October United Nations Forces crossed the Korean thirty-eighth parallel and the first Chinese Communist troops entered the country. On October 15 the President and General Douglas MacArthur met at Wake Island.

In the same month the association's executive committee contemplated having a hearing before Senator Green's subcommittee, bringing in prominent figures to testify. The association members realized that they had the approval of those who had been present at Representative Regan's hearing, and the disapproval of those on the Senate side who missed the hearing. After meeting with Vice President Alben Barkley and Senator Anderson, association leaders were assured of a hearing before the full Senate committee during the current congressional session. Simultaneously, association president William Crowdus appealed to Representative Ken Regan to make an application to the House Rules Committee for a ruling on the million-plus amount. [49]

When another month passed with no action, the association's executive committee prepared for the worst. They proceeded to write a new authorization bill to be introduced into the new Congress in January 1951. Only a bare possibility existed for passage during the current session, although there would still be a hearing before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. More pressure was placed on Representative Regan to secure a ruling, but both he and John Sullivan believed they should wait. Considerable difficulty lay in passing legislation because of the international situation and its effect on Washington. By December Regan, so far an avid supporter of the bill, wondered if it were advisable to attempt anything during the current situation, since if the bill failed it might adversely affect efforts in the spring. [50] Vice President Alben Barkley strongly recommended against holding a Senate committee hearing, saying nothing would be accomplished by it. With this advice from one of their own commission members, the association gave up any further attempts to have the authorization bills passed. They focused instead on their chances in the coming year. These depended most directly upon the international situation, but also indirectly upon the makeup of committees in the new Congress. John Sullivan did not believe that the value of all the work and effort in the past year was wasted. Impressed members of Congress would stay impressed, most of them would probably be returned to Congress, and the record of proceedings before the House subcommittee was one of the finest. Additionally, it would be preferable to present their case to a new Congress, which might act on the authorization. [51]

Events had taken a harsh turn against the Jefferson memorial project. At the beginning of the year the situation had seemed ripe for the project's authorization and appropriation in Congress. Association members had come out of a slumber using the momentum started by the architectural competition to push through their bills. They had identified the pivotal congressmen, placed pressure upon them, worked with them — but in the end had to take congressional advice to abandon the efforts. All the vested interests (city, Federal Government, railroads, and association) had presented a united front once they worked out an authorization bill to their liking. But as unfamiliar names such as Inch'on, Wonsan, and P'yongyang entered the vocabulary of Americans, the memorial backers had to abandon their domestic desires for the sake of national interests.

Railroad Tunnel Clearance

While project supporters waited in Washington, decisions were made in St. Louis concerning the railroads. The 1949 "Memorandum of Understanding" called for an eighteen-foot clearance in the railroad tunnel, and for the Arch to be placed to the east of it. The substandard clearance had to be approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission. Meanwhile, Eero Saarinen considered Superintendent Julian Spotts' suggestion to move the Arch's location from the east side of the tracks to the west side. Spotts believed there was merit in moving the Arch while leaving the tunnel plans as they were. The tunnel could be built while the elevated still operated, and Saarinen risked starting a new controversy if he departed from the memorandum's requirement that the tunnel be fifty feet west of the present elevated line. [52] Saarinen finally agreed and made the changes. He moved the Arch west of the tracks, eliminated the historic arcade, which was to be composed of courts with sculpture and paintings, and removed the recently restored Old Rock House, as it stood in the way of the tunnel. Julian Spotts did not think the changes were the railroads' concern, but he was anxious to avoid any controversy that might arise. For that reason only Spotts' office, Saarinen, Luther Ely Smith, and a few National Park Service officials knew of the changes. They did not affect the memorial's concept or cost.

This secrecy proved justified in Julian Spotts' mind, for several railroad officials expected Eero Saarinen to solve all the problems attendant to relocation. Looking at Saarinen's plans, they raised so many problems about grades, tie-ins, and other matters that Spotts thought them delinquent in their cooperation. He felt it was not Saarinen's function to investigate all the problems involved, and Saarinen agreed. If all the burden of proof fell on Saarinen, he would have to hire a railroad consultant, something he wanted to avoid until the project was actually commissioned. Spotts' policy was to keep the status quo agreement to avoid jeopardizing the authorization, while studying the detailed problems. [53]

Mayor Joseph Darst stayed active and interested in the railroad plans. He held conferences with the National Park Service and railroad union representatives interested in the operations aspect of the project. Committees were appointed to study various problems and to secure conferences with the public representatives concerned. One particular problem was the tunnel clearance question and the resultant need to get a ruling from the Missouri Public Service Commission allowing the tunnel roof to be lower than standard. [54] The normally required twenty-two-foot clearance was, in this case, impractical. Certain physical facts made it impossible to depress the tracks to gain the necessary twenty-two feet. Conceivably, the tunnel's height could be raised to the same elevation as the elevated tracks, but this was not satisfactory in the minds of Park Service, association, and city officials because it ruined the so-called "Saarinen vista." This was the aesthetic view between the Old Courthouse and the Mississippi River. City officials believed it necessary to provide Eero Saarinen with impartial expert testimony to defend the vista's aesthetic importance before the Public Service Commission. [55]

The hearing began June 14, 1950, in Jefferson City, Missouri, four days after President Truman dedicated the memorial site. Additional testimony came on July 17 to 19, with oral arguments given on September 8. As complainants, the city of St. Louis and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association sought an order from the commission requiring the defendants, i.e. the Terminal Railroad Association, Bridge Terminal Railway Company, and the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, to execute the eighteen-foot vertical clearance tunnel plan in accordance with the "Memorandum of Understanding." The complainants wanted detailed plans and specifications of the project to be approved by the commission, along with restrictions and safeguards on operating practices the commission deemed necessary for public safety. [56]

Fifteen witnesses testified for the complainants on June 14, including Julian Spotts, William Crowdus, Bernard Dickmann, and Eero Saarinen, who defended the three main points of his design. Most important was the Arch. Secondly, he wanted to use as much of the site as possible for a forest with trees. The third factor was the relation of the monument to the river. The Arch was not placed in the center of the site, but on its edge on the levee. One of the memorial's most historic aspects was its relationship with the river, because "Most of the history of the west has passed by that levee." [57] If there were any way of preventing it, Saarinen wanted to keep the tunnel's elevation from extending above 429 feet to preserve the sloping area between the levee and the memorial plaza. Saarinen testified, "It is not only the relation between the levee and the Plaza which becomes so very difficult, it is also the profile through the whole project. At present you can see the river from the Old Courthouse ... and if this was raised beyond 429 you would not see enough of the river to know that there was a river there." [58]

The dean of the architectural school at Washington University testified after Saarinen and provided more support for the 18-foot clearance from an aesthetic viewpoint. Having a 22-foot clearance would raise the tunnel to an elevation of more than 429 feet, which would be extremely harmful to the overall design. In the dean's mind, adding anything to the crest of the hill between the levee and the site would harm or destroy one of the basic relationships that made the memorial distinctive. Furthermore, since the memorial was not a utilitarian project, beauty remained a principal consideration. [59]

Opposition to shortening the tunnel by four feet came from five St. Louis railroad brotherhoods, which did not oppose the memorial's construction or Saarinen's design. Rather, they opposed the construction of the relocated track in violation of safety laws of the state of Missouri when there existed no "real" reason as they saw it, to depart from the vertical clearance statute. In their opinion the complainants had not demonstrated by any physical means that the additional four feet of tunnel would be a visual barrier. Even if ventilation and operational restrictions were placed in the tunnel to eliminate dangerous working conditions, the defendants' counsel still opposed the tunnel because it was a substandard clearance and because it was a tunnel. He was not convinced that a tunnel was even needed in the situation. [60]

The completion of oral argument on September 8 closed all testimony, and the Public Service Commission retired to ponder the evidence. Their task was to weigh whether aesthetics were important enough to influence the construction of a substandard tunnel. Two years passed before the commission made its decision. On August 7, 1952, they approved the eighteen-foot vertical clearance in the tunnel for relocating the tracks. Their approval fulfilled one of the conditions of the "Memorandum of Understanding." Eero Saarinen offered faint words of hope to Julian Spotts, saying "Congratulations! If we live long enough we'll have the railroad underground and the monument built." [61]

Building the monument still meant having all aspects of the development ready as soon as Congress passed authorization bills. Even while the tunnel clearance controversy was going on, other National Park Service officials were reexamining the memorial's initial "interpretive prospectus," a Park Service document setting out the basic theme of the park to guide planning. It was obvious that correlation was needed between the Saarinen plan and the Park Service's pre-war interpretive planning. Park Service officials accepted Saarinen's space allotments for the proposed western museum and museum of architecture as well as the other general building plans. The proposed building interiors needed additional study by the chief historian and chief of the museum division on cost and space allotments for laboratories, storage, and exhibit space. After the historical museum's completion Park Service officials planned to move the Old Courthouse exhibits into the new building and incorporate them in the new exhibits. The plan was to use the Old Courthouse only for offices. According to Acting Director Conrad Wirth, using the building as a museum was a makeshift arrangement only. Some differences existed between Saarinen's plans and Park Service ideals over the proposed frontier and cathedral villages. Park Service officials simply did not want them. It was left up to Superintendent Spotts to work with the chief historian to review the interpretive proposals and prepare a memorandum for Director Drury formulating a definite interpretive plan. [62] Later developments changed Saarinen's grounds development plans considerably. Soaring costs effectively forced the removal of the proposed villages, trails, and outdoor campfire theatre. In the late 1950s Eero Saarinen had to drastically cut his proposals down to the basic elements of Arch, forest, and the memorial-river relationship to get congressional appropriations.

Further Authorization Efforts

In 1951 the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association and its supporters in Congress attempted once again to secure authorization for the memorial. Specific changes were made in the 1950 (81st Congress) bills, S.3867 and H.R. 8591, to increase their chances for survival. After conferring with the National Park Service and City Counselor James Crowe, Luther Ely Smith readied new bills for introduction. Appropriations for the five elements to be completed by 1953 could not exceed $5,000,000, as in the previous bills, but there was no longer a written ceiling on the amount of money the Government could spend for railroad track relocation. Another change resulted from the highly charged atmosphere of the Korean War. The new bills provided for construction of underground bomb shelters on the site. Senator Clinton Anderson introduced the Senate bill, now S. 230, on January 8, 1951, and it was referred to the Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs. The House equivalent, H.R. 2937, was introduced by Representative Frank Karsten (Missouri) and referred once more to the Committee on House Administration. [63]

Several basic facts influenced the two major changes. There was strong demand for bomb shelters and within the business district of St. Louis the memorial site was the only large vacant space available for the purpose. The ceiling on Federal costs for track relocation was dropped because of the uncertainty as to future cost levels. Because the construction date seemed remote, association members deemed it advisable to leave the determination of the Federal Government's limit of fiscal contribution until a later date. Association members also wanted other changes in the new bills.

They wanted to eliminate the $5,000,000 appropriation limit, the reference to the 1953 completion date, and the project's limitation to the five central elements (still excluding the Arch). Instead, they preferred that the bill authorize up to $15,750,000. They believed placing dollar limitations in the authorization bill to be dangerous, in that any restrictive language would prejudice the ultimate grant of sufficient appropriations. The $15,750,000 figure came from the remaining unexpended portion of the 1934-1935 Government funds. [64]

Despite the association's wishes, Senator Clinton Anderson reintroduced the bill with the first two amendments but without the others. In his opinion it would be difficult enough getting the $5,000,000, let alone $15,750,000. He left the original request for $5,000,000. [65] Association members sought to delete the 1953 completion date because they were not requesting any appropriation and wanted to be certain that there existed no misunderstanding about their position as to future appropriations. They feared Congress conceivably could take action to change the project's scope by completing only portions of the plans and not authorizing the Arch's construction. Finally, Missouri Senator Thomas Hennings, Jr., agreed that changing the bill would clarify the backers' position, and leave no room for misunderstanding on the appropriation question. He promised to consult Senator Clinton Anderson on the subject. [66]

Association member William Semsrott spent some time in Washington, D.C. with Representative Frank Karsten, going over details of H.R. 2937 before its introduction in the House. Karsten, too, knew there was no chance for a $15,000,000 authorization. He believed it best to make the bill identical to S. 230, so that it would pass the House Committee on Administration. [67] After the bill's introduction, Representative Karsten took additional efforts to point out to his fellow legislators the distinction between an authorization and an appropriation. He pointed out repeatedly that the memorial bill was an authorization only, but he soon discovered that many legislators found it difficult to distinguish between the two. Nevertheless, Karsten believed that if those in opposition would analyze the situation they would agree to the authorization. [68]

Association members hoped to have a joint session of the Senate and House committees to consider the bills. They received no support in the endeavor from either Frank Karsten or Clinton Anderson, both of whom believed the best approach lay in securing a Senate hearing a day or two after the House hearing. [69] In the early months of 1951 several outside conditions affected the attempt for authorization. The Korean conflict continued and there was no end in sight. General Douglas MacArthur had promised that United States troops would be home by Christmas. Now, in April, the old soldier was relieved of his duties by President Truman. Truce talks would not begin for another three months.

Death of Luther Ely Smith

On April 2, 1951, another blow shattered the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association. Luther Ely Smith, the group's guiding light for seventeen years, suffered a fatal heart attack while walking to his office for another working day. His death at age seventy-seven came at a time when his riverfront project remained a plan on paper. Friends, associates, and co-workers sent their contributions for his memory to the association for use in furthering the memorial. Just a month before his death, Smith received a fitting tribute from National Park Service Director Newton Drury, who was leaving office. "Part of the compensation for distasteful aspects in this job has been the rich associations with cultured gentlemen like yourself and the opportunity to observe your skill and accomplishments." [70]

Association members carried on Smith's work, determined now more than ever to get the project authorized. But the Senate committee refused to set hearing dates until it received reports on the measure from the secretary of the interior and the Bureau of the Budget. [71] Even after reports came in favoring the project, Congress took no action. By June, association members deferred their request for a hearing, even though the bills sought no appropriation. They decided to postpone their efforts because of the pressing problems facing Congress. Representative Frank Karsten approved of the move. [72]

The maneuver did not mean the project was abandoned. On the contrary, while the memorial's supporters felt justified seeking the authorization, they merely decided to wait until the international situation improved. At this point yet another suggestion was made to return the site to the city of St. Louis. The suggestion came from Representative Ken Regan, one of the association's congressional supporters, and association president William Crowdus denounced it. Strong legal and moral grounds existed, in Crowdus' estimation, for the Federal Government to complete the memorial project. [73] In Washington the situation remained at a standstill. While the association's congressional backers watched developments, spoke to members of the two administration committees, and remained ready to give the word when the situation might turn favorable, the members themselves coped with the loss of Luther Ely Smith while trying to do things the way Smith would have wanted them done. Trying to economize, the association essentially closed down their office, leaving it open only two days a week to keep contacts. [74]

Association member William Semsrott kept communication open with the various involved congressmen. Representative Karsten remained interested and advocated the project among his colleagues, but reported that their principal priorities, the military situation and fiscal conservatism, seemed to add emphasis to the idea of having the Federal Government return the site to the city. Representative Ken Regan agreed to be flexible, to "tread water" until the group wanted to try again for authorization. At the same time he was willing to arrange for the site's return to the city if St. Louis so wished. [75]

St. Louis city officials made arrangements during the year with the secretary of the interior to use revenues from the municipal parking lot on the memorial property to pay for temporary landscaping. Under the old contract the city had to pay $10,000 a year rental to the National Park Service for the parking site. Now all the parking fees were to be used for maintenance and beautification. On March 30, 1951, Mayor Darst turned the first spade of earth for the beginning work on the section of land east of the Old Courthouse. This block held first priority for grading and seeding, to turn it into a sunken garden. [76]

In 1951, in addition to the city's efforts to improve the site's condition, and the association's effort to secure authorization, Eero Saarinen continued carrying out his contract with the National Park Service. His services were used more broadly than was first anticipated because of the railroad and parking lot situations. By January 1951 he completed work on twenty-one drawings, including profiles of the Arch, scale drawings of the museums and restaurants, various parking proposals, the effect of the levee-tunnel railroad plan on the Arch footings, the Arch foundations, the Third Street Expressway, and the internal and external structure of the Arch. The engineering firm of Fred N. Severud provided the Arch's structural calculations, based on wind tunnel tests of an Arch model. Conferences were held with a bridge company to solve erection and stainless steel fabrication problems. When Saarinen fulfilled his contract for the preliminary investigations, the National Park Service approved his work and paid him. [77]

While Saarinen and Superintendent Spotts awaited the outcome of the Missouri Public Service Commission case (the eighteen-foot tunnel), Spotts appeared before the commission in another hearing, this time regarding the Missouri Pacific Railroad tracks on Poplar Street. St. Louis city officials had the tracks. The city, the railroads, and the State Highway Department all agreed on costs and design, but protests came from several railroad labor unions over some substandard clearances. Spotts testified that the plan would benefit the memorial, even though the National Park Service was in no way concerned with the case because of the tracks' location outside the memorial's boundaries. [78]

In 1952 the Missouri Public Service Commission approved the tunnel's eighteen-foot clearance. This was the single decision of that year toward the memorial's development. No further work was done on the physical site itself, Congress took no action on the authorization while the war raged, and the association sat in shock after Luther Ely Smith's death. The Korean war effectively served, as had World War II, to stop all progress on the Jefferson memorial.

The post-competition years were bittersweet. Saarinen's plan was the prize at the end of the rainbow, but the project's supporters were finding the way there a rough road indeed. They could see some encouraging signs; they had managed to unite all the involved interests on the railroad question, arriving at a "Memorandum of Understanding." Eero Saarinen kept up his flexibility and optimism by drawing scaled plans and shifting the Arch's location. President Truman provided legitimacy for the project by dedicating the site. But the bitterness came when the association failed for three years to secure an authorization, let alone an appropriation. The association felt Luther Ely Smith's loss, both emotionally and professionally. And of course they would try again in 1953 to obtain the coveted authorization; they still held faith in the project. As Minette Forthmann, the association's long-time secretary, asserted to Eero Saarinen, "But we all still have enough hope and determination to see it through." [79] Success was just around the corner.

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Last Updated: 15-Jan-2004