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1967: A Chicago man is first in line to go the top of the Arch

1967: A Chicago man is first in line to go the top of the Arch

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On July 24, 1967, nearly two years after completion of the Gateway Arch construction, visitors were finally allowed to take the trams to the top. Here is our original coverage of the Post-Dispatch from that opening.

The long-awaited public opening of the Gateway Arch transportation system took place today after a ribbon cutting in the Visitor Center beneath the Arch.
 
Several hundred persons who arrived early in the morning to be among the first to ride today heard George B. Hartzog Jr., director of the National Park Service, describe the Arch as "a monument to rank with such engineering triumphs as the Eiffel tower, the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty."
 
"The monument is testimony in shining and everlasting form to the creative co-operation of men and their ability to work toward a common goal," Hartzog said.
 
The ceremony originally was to have been held out of doors between the legs of the Arch, but threatening weather forced it inside.
 
Among the dignitaries attending were Gov. Warren E, Hearnes, Mayor Alfonso J. Cervantes and Lt. Gov.. Samuel H. Shapiro of Illinois.
 
At the conclusion of the ceremony, about 30 of the invited guests formed the party for the first train ride of the day to the top of the Arch.
 
At noon, the automatic ticket dispensers in the Visitor Center were activated, marking the opening of the cable-pulled train system to the public.
 
Standing first, in line to purchase a ticket was Al Carter, of Chicago, who said he had arrived in St. Louis by bus yesterday.
 
He said he walked the streets of the city all  night awaiting the opening of the Visitor center.
 
Carter, who said he had been interested in history for many years, gave impromptu lectures on the Old West to small groups of other persons waiting for tickets.
 
Near the head of the line were five Brentwood youths, who said they spent the night in an automobile on a riverfront parking lot.
 
They were Kerry Harris, 18 years old; Norvel Derickson Jr., 19; Nelson Morgan, 19; Dan Larson, 16, and Donald Iffrig, 15.
 
Although some concern had been expressed in recent months about the mechanical depend- ability of the tram system, the public debut was flawless. This could not be said, however, about the two automatic ticket dispensers. Both of them broke down within minutes of the opening, forcing uniformed attendants to serve as cashiers.
 
About 2,000 persons went for a preview ride on the cable-pulled trains yesterday. They peered out the 32 windows at the top of the Arch for a view of Busch Memorial Stadium, where the Cardinals were playing the Atlanta Braves in a doubleheader, and watched boats moving in the Mississippi river.  There were some good-natured complaints about the size of the viewing windows about 7 by 27 inches but most of the early visitors were too impressed by he view to speak in anything but superlatives, "Magnificent," "breath-taking," and "incredible" were among the most common comments.
 
The view extended for almost 30 miles yesterday. The trains were in operation from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. yesterday and the cars were crowded throughout that period.  
 

 
The Gateway Arch: Take a look at some amazing photos showing how it was built
 

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