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The importance of gates can date back to the beginning of time since the existence of defensive walls first appeared. If walls are necessary to protect a town, a gate to protect the entrance is shortly to follow. The two developments probably coincided, in hopes of setting geographical boundaries, protecting those inside the entrance. We can find iconic gates and arches throughout the world globally. Though some gates or arches merely have no purpose but exist to commemorate and externalize memory. In many ways gates and structural arches are symbolic of achievement and commemorating those of the past who sculpted the present. The formal name to these structures are triumphal arches. Triumphal arches and gates play an important and pivotal role symbolizing how the past can be represented through the ideal of collective memories.

Deriving from the word triumphal arch itself, the Arch de Triomphe in Paris remains one of the world’s most renown gateway arches. The Arch de Triomphe is significant because like many other arches and gates, it honors those of the past. This neoclassical structure honors those who fought and died for France during their revolution and Napoleonic wars. It respects those who joined the efforts in war by illustrating the names of French victories and notorious generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. At the same location is The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and similar to the tombs of the U.S., their purpose serves to memorialize service members who have died without being identified. These arches and gates serve a purpose to exist and represent the past and the memories formed from them. The Arch de Triomphe in Paris specifically serves as monument of national identity, patriotism, and to externalize the collective and cultural memory of the past.

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Photo by: Norio Nakayama

Despite the fact a lot of historical arches are built with stone and marble in architecturally aesthetic principle, the construction of newly modern and unique gates is still prevalent. Another newer, yet extremely famous gate is the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. This 630 ft. monument was constructed in 1963 and is the centerpiece to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The Gateway arch remains the world’s tallest arch, man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, and Missouri’s tallest accessible building. The arch was made by Eero Saarinen who was an American architect and industrial designer known for his neofuturistic style. Like other gates and arches the St. Louis Gateway Arch holds a purpose to represent our thrive for expansion. Its purpose was to help revive the riverfront and collectively memorialize the story of the nation’s westward expansion.

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Photo by: Daniel Schwen

These monuments are symbols of our collective memory by externalizing our shared social and cultural experiences. As we’ve narrowed the scope from international monuments to domestic structures, we take a look at a specific gateway arch that impacts our local community’s collective memory. On the east side of our campus stands a large arching golden gate welcoming those who visit UC-Santa Barbara. This 26 feet tall structure is named the Henley Gate, commemorating one of our successful alumni-Jeff Henley. He is well known for serving as a chief financial officer and later chairman for Oracle, a multinational computer technology corporation which is widely known (and even endorses the best basketball team, The Golden State Warriors). The gate was named after him because he is a prolific donator to our university, donating gift sizes up to 50 million dollars- the largest donation our school has ever received. Thankfully Henley’s donation wasn’t used on the entrance itself rather he had planned for it to promote scientific research within the university and help overcome the increasingly new budget cuts. Although the entrance is fairly new being constructed and functioning late July 2008, the gate is already representative and iconic here on campus. The Henley gate is significant to those who attend here because it embodies our thrive for academia, social life, but most importantly our still undecided futures. The Henley Gate symbolizes UCSB’s thrive to become a prestigious research institution, yet also externalizing the fond memories of those who have attended this university.

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Photo by Tony Mastres

Gates and arches have been a symbolism of a new beginning for centuries. The Arc de Triomphe for example, was constructed as a mere award for the French revolution. The St. Louis Gateway Arch was forged due to U.S. determination for expansion of new land, or a new beginning. For those who attend the University of California, Santa Barbara- we look at the Henley gate in a similar fashion. The Henley gate represents a new beginning for us students who have decided to embark on a scholastic journey to pave our future footsteps for our yet undecided futures. When the [Henley] gate opened for us students, we decided to accept our admission and stroll underneath our own personal triumphal arch.