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Thursday, January 4, 2018

Goodbye Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Hello Gateway Arch! [Update]

Posted By on Thu, Jan 4, 2018 at 1:06 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA FLICKR/JOHN SONDERMAN

Update, February 23: In what might go down as the least controversial move of Donald Trump's presidency, America's Very Stable Genius-in-Chief signed into the law the bill to change the name of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to the more streamlined "Gateway Arch National Park."

In a statement released with the announcement, Mike Ward, Superintendent at the Gateway Arch National Park, assured the public that the name-change won't change the park's overall mission. And although the park is losing its Jeffersonian moniker, Ward noted that, "The stories of Thomas Jefferson and his vision of westward expansion are woven throughout the new Museum at the Gateway Arch, which celebrates its grand opening on July 3."



There you have it. The Arch is still the Arch, but now it's official.

End of update. The original story continues below:

You know that moment when you see the Arch poking above the St. Louis skyline, all gleaming and elegant, and suddenly the words "there's the Arch" float out of your mouth, as if someone had pushed a button in your brain?

But you know what nobody says, ever? "Oh, hey, there's the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial."

Well it seems like Missouri's electeds in Congress have finally realized that too, because a bill that recently passed the U.S. Senate would do away with the clunky Jeffersonian reference in favor of "Gateway Arch National Park."

Sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) and co-sponsored by Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), the proposed legislation passed with a voice vote on December 21. The House version of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis), boasts a similarly bi-partisan list of co-sponsors in Republicans Blaine Luetkemeyer and Ann Wagner.

Still, not everyone is entirely on board with slapping "national park" on the name. During a July hearing before a Senate subcommittee, Robert Vogel, the acting deputy director of the National Parks Service, advised that the area be dubbed instead a "national monument."

In his statement — which was helpfully spotted and posted earlier this week by Redditor PedroHin — Vogel noted the national parks are established to protect the resources of large land or water areas.

"At only 91 federal acres, we believe that the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is too small and limited in the range of resources the site protects and interprets to be called a national park," Vogel said. "Since it is a site similar to the Statue of Liberty National Monument, in its iconic status and small land area, we believe that a more fitting name for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial would be 'Gateway Arch National Monument.'"

We've reached out to Blunt's office for clarification on this Park vs. Monument issue. But semantics aside, we can't help but think this sounds like a common sense update for St. Louis' archiest, gatewayiest landmark. Hey, if we can give the airport a new and simpler name, surely our favorite landmark is equally deserving.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com

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