The Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis, the Illinois Expansion of the Gateway Arch National Park, and Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park all have fascinating and interconnected histories. Learn about each of them below.
Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis
The Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit located in St. Louis, Missouri. The nonprofit was incorporated in 1969. The Gateway Center's primary mission is to assist the National Park Service in expanding the Gateway Arch National Park into Illinois via Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park and other lands adjacent to it. Our secondary mission is to provide funding to Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD) for Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park until the park is donated by MEPRD to the National Park Service as part of the Illinois Expansion.
Illinois Expansion of the Gateway Arch National Park
Eero Saarinen's original concept for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (now called the Gateway Arch National Park) included areas on both sides of the river. Ever since Saarinen's original plan, there have been individuals and organizations like the Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis attempting to make the Illinois component a reality.
Here are just a few of the many influential leaders who have worked towards the Illinois Expansion over the years. United States Representative Melvin Price in 1967, Secretary of the Interior Walter Hickel in 1969, Illinois Representative Paul Simon and President Ronald Reagan in 1983, Secretary of the Interior Donald Hodel in 1985, United States Congressman Jerry Costello, William Clay, and Richard Gephardt in 1989, and President George Bush in 1990.
More recent efforts date back to around 2015, when significant improvements were made to the Gateway Arch grounds to celebrate its 50th anniversary. As part of that work, efforts resumed on the Illinois Expansion, only for them to be placed on hold once until improvements to the Arch grounds, Kiener Plaza, and the Old Courthouse are finished. The Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis and Metro East Park and Recreation District continue to work tirelessly toward the Illinois Expansion and are excited to announce that some work has recently resumed regarding the expansion.
Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park
On June 7th, 2005, the Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis (Gateway Center) transferred title of the Gateway Geyser and 30+ undeveloped acres of land to Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD). The Gateway Center had worked for 40 years to protect the property up to that point and with the transfer, entrusted MEPRD with the task of transforming the property into a public park. On June 6, 2009, the park officially opened as Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park.
Metro East Park and Recreation District continues to own and operate Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park to this day and in July 2023, MEPRD approved and the forwarded a Letter of Intent to Donate the park to the National Park Service for the Illinois Expansion of the Gateway Arch National Park. At the same time, the Gateway Center removed deed restrictions on the property to expedite the NPS's expansion efforts.
The park is not only home to the Gateway Geyser, but also the Mississippi River Overlook, which stands 40 ft. tall on the west end of the park. Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park is without a doubt the best place to photograph the Gateway Arch and St. Louis skyline. Many St. Louis postcards are captured by photographers from the overlook. The structure offers visitors spectacular views of the park and unprecedented views of the Gateway Arch, the Mississippi River, and the St. Louis city skyline. The park also provides passive open green space, ideal for play and picnics, and a series of walking paths, perfect for leisurely strolls throughout the park.
About Malcolm W. Martin (1912-2004)
Malcolm W. Martin was born in St. Louis in 1912. He graduated from Yale University in 1933 and St. Louis City College of Law in 1941, the same year in which he co-founded Martin, Peper, and Martin with his father and Chris Peper. Shortly after founding the firm, the United States entered into World War II. Martin was drafted into the U.S. Army as a private, spending much of his service time in London. He was promoted to sergeant, and was later involved in planning the D-Day invasion at Normandy. He studied the tides of the English Channel to find the best place, time, and method for the ships to arrive on the beaches. These contributions led to his promotion to captain, and involvement in coordinating the ships on D-Day. For his contributions in planning and coordinating the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, he received a Bronze Star.
After the war Martin continued his contributions to the community. He was one of the founders of KETC Channel 9 and the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis. He was a trustee of the St. Louis Symphony, a member and president of the St. Louis Board of Education from 1965-1977, Chairman of the St. Louis Committee on Foreign Relations, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and trustee of the St. Louis Art Museum. He received the 1984 St. Louis Award and the National Conservation Award of the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1988 for work related to the proposed future development of the east bank extension of the Gateway Arch National Park.
Before the Gateway Arch was completed in 1965, Martin wanted to extend the Memorial Park to encompass both sides of the river, and complete Eero Saarinen’s (the architect of the Gateway Arch) original vision for the Gateway Arch National Park, which included an Illinois component. Martin became chairman of the executive committee of the federal commission established in 1987 to plan the Illinois extension and established the Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis.
Making the Illinois expansion of the Gateway Arch National Park a reality was Malcolm Martin’s top priority and goal. Upon Mr. Martin's death in 2004, Malcolm donated over $5 million to the Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis to continue this work. A goal the Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis and Metro East Park and Recreation District continue to work towards to this day.
The Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis partners with a number of valued organizations in the St. Louis area. Here are a few of them.