St. Louis Arch
The St Louis Arch, which is actually called the Gateway Arch, is a large arch-shaped monument located in the city of St. Louis, Missouri. It rises high above the city at a height of 630 Feet.
The Arch can be seen for miles around St. Louis, and is one of the first noticeable objects in the St. Louis skyline as you approach the downtown area. It has a metallic grey color from the stainless steel that covers the outside of the monument.
According to St Louis Public Radio and Ryan McClure, the number of people who currently visit the Gateway Arch National Park each year is between 2.5 and 3 Million. Out of those, approximately 1 Million ride to the top.
Quick Facts about the St Louis Arch
- It is 630 Feet (192 Meters) Tall.
- The Arch, museum and associate grounds are a National Park.
- It was completed in October of 1965, but didn’t open to the public until June of 1967.
- The Arch’s design is meant to symbolize St. Louis’ importance as the gateway to the west and development of the west.
- It was also designed as a commemoration of the Louisiana Purchase.
- A new $360 Million development was completed in 2018, which better connects the existing park to the rest of Downtown St. Louis.
- Vice President Hubert Humphrey watched from a helicopter on the day the top of the Arch was completed.
From Wikipedia, plans for a monument at the riverfront have actually been around since the 1930’s. A design competition was held in the 1940’s, and a Finnish-American designer named Eero Saarinen was awarded the design portion of the project.
A company named MacDonald Construction Co. of St. Louis was awarded the construction piece of the project, and construction of the Arch began on February 12, 1963. The inside of the arch was built with of a combination of concrete and carbon steel, and the exterior was covered in stainless steel.
After several delays, construction was completed on October 28, 1965. Interestingly, the arch did not open to visitors until July of 1967.
Visiting the Arch
The Arch is built such that people are able to ride to the top using tram trains in either ‘leg’ of the structure. The tram cars are egg-shaped, and tilt up to 155 degrees as they make their way to the top.
In order to access the trams you will go underground, where the ticket center and trams are located. There is also a museum located here. Entrances to this underground area used to be located near the foot of each leg of the Arch, but the main entrance is now located on Fourth Street across from the Old Courthouse. The old entrances near the legs are now exits.
It takes about 4 minutes to ride to the top in a tram. Once you arrive at the top you will notice windows on each side of the viewing area. On the eastern side of the Arch you can see the mighty Mississippi River down below. Several steamboats are usually docked along the riverfront. East St. Louis is located across the river.
The western side faces Downtown St. Louis. On that side, you can see Busch Stadium, the baseball park where the St. Louis Cardinals play. You can also see the Old Courthouse and Basilica of St. Louis.
For many years, the only easy way to get to the Arch was to go by the riverfront downtown and park in one of the parking garages near the Arch or along Leonard K Sullivan Boulevard. In 2018, a new $360 Million development was completed that better connects the Arch to Downtown St. Louis.
With this new development, visitors can walk across Interstate 44 on a bridge that takes them to the old courthouse. The new entrance to the underground museum and ticket center is located on this side of the park.
Attractions around the Arch
After you visit the arch, you can take a one hour tour on one of the steamboats in the river. They provide food and live Dixieland music. Another great attraction in Downtown St. Louis is the City Museum. It is a fantastic, unique museum that is great for climbing, exploring and inspiring.