Updates / Latest News /
Updates / Latest News /
What’s in a Name?
…For the Gateway City, a lot. Standing tall above the newly renovated park grounds, our iconic Gateway Arch defines the downtown St. Louis skyline and has magnetic appeal for millions of visitors every year. Soon the Museum at the Gateway Arch will re-open to the public, offering an impressive, interactive learning experience detailing the history of our region, Thomas Jefferson's role in opening the West and the pioneers and native peoples who helped shape American history. The Arch’s renovated park grounds provide the National Park Service with even more opportunities to engage visitors. While these renovations reflect the visitor experience, the name of the park quite simply hasn’t.
Today, CityArchRiver partners and members of congress announced Gateway Arch National Park as the new name of the park, replacing, “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial”. Sen. Roy Blunt and Rep. William Lacy Clay introduced the legislation that changes the name of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to Gateway Arch National Park. The legislation was co-sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill as well as Reps. Wagner and Leutkemeyer. At the park, all signage will be updated to reflect the name change. While the renovation project is still underway, all of the needed changes will add no additional cost to taxpayers.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (JNEM) was designated in 1935, long before the park’s most recognizable attribute, the Gateway Arch, was designed in 1947 and completed in 1965. Since that time, the public has not adopted the JNEM moniker, nor has awareness that the Arch and Old Courthouse are part of the National Park Service taken hold. Anecdotally, as most people in St. Louis will tell you, no one says, “Hey, let’s go to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.” Two independent studies have further proven the name’s lack of public adoption and the low awareness of its national park status.
Building awareness that the Gateway Arch is an urban national park is more than a semantic exercise. The name change will support tourism through clearer, more accurate marketing communication.
Although the park’s name has been changed to “Gateway Arch National Park,” the core mission of the park will not change. Thomas Jefferson and his vision of an expanded America will still be recognized in the Arch’s new museum. At the Old Courthouse, visitors will continue to be educated about slavery and Dred Scott’s freedom suit that started there.
The Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse are historic places. Both will remain so – documenting the roles of many, especially Thomas Jefferson and Dred Scott, without whom our nation’s past and present would be entirely different.
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