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All that hoopla last year about the old Busch Stadium taking the pipe somewhat overshadowed the fact that Busch's neighbor, the Gateway Arch, hit the big 4-0 in 2005. But you know the Arch — it doesn't feel the need to trumpet its presence with a lot of hoopla. The Arch has an understated dignity, much like the city it represents. Or does St. Louis perhaps now represent the Arch? That's the intriguing nature of our shiny monument — its perceived mutability. Conceived as a symbol of a younger America's Westward expansion, the Arch has come to stand for more than a nation's manifest destiny. It represents St. Louis: our civic pride, our identity, our shared past and our collective future. But the Arch itself really does none of those things. We as a city project those meanings onto the Arch, and it graciously bears the burden. And so when we get our panties in a twist about a new stadium, the Arch keeps its stately silence and remains steadfast on the banks of the Mississippi, graciously not pointing out that in 40 years when we're welcoming Busch IV, we'll still be standing in the shadow of the one and only Gateway Arch.

Patrick Murphy explores this enigma of the Arch in his new documentary, Monumental Reflections. His film receives its first public screening at 7 p.m. this evening at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org). Admission is free.
Thu., May 25

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