The Gateway Arch, St Louis

The Gateway Arch

This 630ft high monument, the gateway to the west, is just mad. It's the tallest monument in the USA and this this stainless steel construction is really a sight to behold.

It forms part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.which includes the museum of westward expansion (located at the base of the arch) and the St Louis Old Courthouse.

Brief history of the Gateway Arch

In 1935, it was decided to build a monument to 19th centaury westward expansion on the St Louis riverfront. Land was purchased and 40 city blocks of homes and businesses were cleared, but further progress towards building the monument were halted due to World War II.

In 1947, a group of St Louis citizens conducted a nationwide competition soliciting designs for the monument. The Finnish architect, Eero Saarinen, was the eventual winner. His other buildings included the Trans World Airlines building at JFK International Airport, the MIT Auditorium and Chapel and the Dulles International Airport.

Construction finally began in 1963 and was completed in 1965. With completion of the tram in the north leg of the Arch, the public was allowed to the top in July 1967. The total cost of construction was $13 million.


On a summers day, with both the north and south trams running, as many as 6400 can visit the top. When you clamber into one of these trams (read 'tiny elevator that follows the curve of the arch') you might well wonder if you are stepping into a prop from the film 2001 : A space odyssey. As I said earlier, this thing is mad.

On a clear day you can see for thirty miles. Don't be surprised if you feel the arch swaying, it is designed to move up to 18" and to survive an earthquake.

To go from ground level, up to the viewing area and back can take about 45 minutes.