Home | Experience the Arts | Public Art Directory | Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

Public Art

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

By Eero Saarinen
Category: Miscellaneous


In a project that began in 1933, civic leaders set out to accomplish two goals: to have the riverfront designated a historic site within the National Park System, and to raise $225,000 to sponsor a national competition for the design of a monument to Thomas Jefferson and the spirit of westward expansion. Conditions of the competition for the forty-block site called for, among other things: a museum, places for recreation, parking, relocation of existing railroad tracks, a heliport, a tree-shaded park, and a monument representing seven given historic events in St. Louis’ past.

Five first-stage winners were awarded $10,000. First prize for the second stage winner was $40,000. 172 entries were received from which it took the seven-member jury three days to select the five winners. After a five month period for final submissions passed, the jury reconvened and on the first ballot made a unanimous decision. The winner was Eero Saarinen, a thirty-seven year old architect and son of the famous Eliel (who also entered the competition). Young Saarinen’s basic inverted catenary form “had the inevitable quality of the right solution,” the jury commented.

Saarinen died in 1961, shortly after the groundbreaking. His partners supervised the three and one-half year construction of the Arch.

Dimensions: 640′ x 640′
Year Completed: 1965
Material: Stainless steel
Owner: National Park Service
Donor: Private donors

About the artist:

Arts and cultural events are waiting around every corner throughout the St. Louis region. Explore the abundant creativity our area has to offer. From gallery shows and performances to public installations, St. Louis is rich with culture and the arts in all forms. Browse these links to experience our arts community firsthand.


Due to the ongoing financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) has been working diligently to adjust our annual grantmaking programs to ensure alignment with RAC’s strategic priorities, and in response to feedback from the arts community.


We have gathered a variety of news, information, and other resources to sustain the health and vibrancy of our arts community.


As the leading public catalyst for arts and culture in St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission leverages the power of creativity to strengthen and enrich our community. Read our commitment to diversity, racial equity, accessibility, and inclusion, and see our strategic plan for the next five years.


Covid-19 has impacted us all. But what it hasn’t changed is RAC’s commitment to finding innovative ways to support arts programming, arts organizations, and individual artists through the pandemic, and to resuming these programs as soon as conditions allow.


Skip to content