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Decaying, Rusting St. Louis Gateway Arch Symbolic of What Happens to Stainless Steel After 45 Years

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The St. Louis Gateway Arch, long a symbol of America's westward expansion, is now showing signs of rust and decay, in many respects a metaphor for the corrosion and decay that occurs over a 45-year period when stainless steel is left outside near a river during extreme heat, cold, wind and rain, and not, as it turns out, a metaphor for America's decaying empire and the slow deterioration in this country's living standards.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the corrosion is increasingly visible and may be extensive throughout the arch's triangular sections. The site of the arch is being rebuilt for its 50-year anniversary in 2015, but the funds approved for the arch site renovations do not include anything for the arch itself or structural repairs.

Tracy Campbell, a history professor at the University of Kentucky, is working on a book about the Arch, told the Post-Dispatch the arch "represents wealth and power in the middle 20th century, right after World War II."

"Like all buildings, it's aging," Campbell added. "What makes the Arch so striking is its sculpture and appearance. As it ages and deteriorates, the question becomes, 'How much do you want to spend to preserve it in its original state?'"

Or, more accurately, not how much do you want to spend; how much can you afford to spend?
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