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St. Louis, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

The James S. McDonnell Planetarium of the Saint Louis Science Center

Forest Park

 
 
The James S. McDonnell Planetarium of the Saint Louis Science Center Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, May 13, 2019
1. The James S. McDonnell Planetarium of the Saint Louis Science Center Marker
Inscription.  Since 1963 this iconic structure has been St. Louis' Gateway to the Stars to over 300,000 visitors a year. Established and first operated by the City of St. Louis, the Planetarium merged in 1984 with the Museum of Science & Natural History to become the first phase of the Saint Louis Science Center, a part of the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District.

[Captions, from left to right:]
Construction on the Planetarium began in 1960, as the Space Race with Russia was in full swing. At the same time, across town at McDonnell Aircraft, America's first manned space capsules were being fabricated.

The Planetarium's concrete shell was complicated to create, requiring complex forms lower down and concrete blown into place higher up. The entire shell, no more than three-and-a-half inches thick, sits on twelve external pedestals.

The Planetarium's first star chamber seated 420 and was dominated by the 16,000 pound Goto L-1 Projector, capable of projecting over 8,000 stars and the planets, sun and moon under the 60-foot domed projection screen. It took Japanese technicians six months to install
James S. McDonnell Planetarium image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, October 15, 2019
2. James S. McDonnell Planetarium
the complex instrument.

A major renovation of the Planetarium in 2000 allowed the installation of an 80-foot projection dome and the Zeiss MK9 Universarium. Under this, the largest planetarium dome in North America, over 9,000 stars can be cast, with flexible seating to even allow for occasional sleep-overs and dining under the stars.

The Planetarium's hyperbolic paraboloid shape, designed by architect Gyo Obata, suggests the orbits of comets and the arcing flight of rockets. In 1966 it also tempted mischievous architecture students from Washington University to rig a ribbon and bow around the building as a prank...and a beloved St. Louis holiday tradition was born.

The Planetarium was built on the former site of the Mounted Police station and stables, which dated to 1894. The $1.2 million Planetarium project was part of a 1955 bond issue for city-wide civic improvements.

 
Location. 38° 37.898′ N, 90° 16.261′ W. Marker is in St. Louis, Missouri. Marker is on Faulkner Drive 0.1 miles south of Clayton Avenue, on the left when traveling south. Marker is located at Faulkner Avenue, which ends when arriving at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium. Marker is placed in front of the Planetarium. Because of the Planetarium being part of the Saint Louis Science Center,
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it has an Oakland Avenue address. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 5050 Oakland Avenue, Saint Louis MO 63110, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. River Des Peres Sewage and Drainage Works (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Jewel Box (approx. half a mile away); World's Fair Pavilion (approx. 0.8 miles away); The Muny (approx. 0.8 miles away); General Franz Sigel (approx. 0.8 miles away); Frank P. Blair, Jr. (approx. 0.9 miles away); Government Hill (approx. 0.9 miles away); Government Hill & The World's Fair Pavilion (approx. one mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in St. Louis.
 
Categories. Air & SpaceNotable BuildingsScience & Medicine
 

More. Search the internet for The James S. McDonnell Planetarium of the Saint Louis Science Center.
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 18, 2019. This page originally submitted on October 16, 2019, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 36 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on October 16, 2019, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. • Devry Becker Jones was the editor who published this page.
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