History of Us
The ASCE St. Louis Section was organized in February 1888, as the “St. Louis Association of Members of the American Society of Civil Engineers.”
The 1930s were the years of the Depression. The Section, as well as the Society, were concerned with the unemployment problems of many members. The Section cooperated with the various programs of the federal government in coping with the unemployment situation of those years. The Society reported that $200,000 in dues were written off for those members who had been unable to pay them due to unemployment and attendant problems. The 1940s saw many Section members off to World War II. Upon their return, a number of programs were presented depicting their war experiences. The post-war problems facing the nation and community were the concern of the Section. The problem of traffic jams, transit systems, flood control and navigation on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers received serious attention and discussion.
In 1953, a Section committee selected the Seven Engineering Wonders of St. Louis. Their first selection was as follows:
Eads Bridge, St. Louis Union Station, Chain-of-Rocks Filtration Plant, River Des Peres Drainage Channel, Chain-of-Rocks Locks and Canal System, Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Meramec Power Plant of the Union Electric Company. The National Convention of ASCE was held in St. Louis in 1955. Activities of the convention included tours to the Airport Terminal Building, the Aeronautical Chart Center and the Chain-of-Rocks Canal and Locks.
The Gateway Arch, nearing completion in 1965, at the center of the Memorial.
In the 1960s, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial was featured by the Section on several occasions. Located between the historic Eads Bridge and Poplar Street Bridge on the St. Louis Riverfront, the area commemorates Thomas Jefferson's vision of continental expansion of the United States, marked by our famous 630-foot Gateway Arch, the Museum of Westward Expansion, and St. Louis' Old Courthouse in the surrounding grounds. Thus, all within about a half a mile on the St. Louis riverfront are three "firsts" in civil engineering:
The National Convention of ASCE was held in St. Louis in 1981. As part of the convention, St. Louis Union Station and Chain-of-Rocks Water Filtration Plant were formally dedicated as National Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks. St. Louis Union Station was one of the first railroad stations providing a centralized terminal for many different rail lines. When it first opened, Union Station had 22 lines converging into it - 13 from the east and 9 from the west. Union Station is also innovative from a structural viewpoint with the train shed, being 700 feet long by 606 feet wide, believed to have been the largest existing at the time of its construction, made use of the longest metal roof trusses ever constructed up to that time.
St. Louis Union Station (now a renovated city attraction)
Chain-of-Rocks Water Filtration Plant represented the first time that advanced filtration processes used in Europe were combined with sedimentation and rapid mix functions. At the time of its construction in 1894, it was considered the largest water filtration system in the United States, processing 160 million gallons of muddy Mississippi River water daily. The plant was used as a model for many other municipal waterworks during the early 1900s. In 1988, as St. Louis repeated as host of the National Convention, the River Des Peres Sewerage and Drainage Works was dedicated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, becoming the Section’s fourth landmark. The River Des Peres drains approximately 115 square miles of the St. Louis City and County areas.
The Eads Bridge is the first tubular steel arch structure of its kind, as well as the first in the U.S. to sink piers by the pneumatic caisson method. It is also the oldest surviving bridge crossing the Mississippi River.
The Poplar Street Bridge, the first orthotropic bridge in the U.S.
The stainless steel Gateway Arch, a unique and unparalleled structure embodying modern design and construction concepts.