The Gateway Arch – One of America’s Most Iconic Monuments
The St. Louis Gateway Arch
If you’re moving to St. Louis, there are a few things you should know about one of the best cities in the Midwest.
In 1804, Louis and Clark began their expedition to the West in this city and gave St. Louis the nickname “The Gateway to the West”. Located between the Missouri River and the Mississippi River, St. Louis has a rich cultural heritage and is full of great places to visit and areas to live.
Let’s delve a bit further into the history behind the city, so when you do move there, you’ll have some great facts to impress the locals! French fur trader Pierre Laclede Liguest and his 13-year-old scout, Auguste Chouteau, selected the site of St. Louis in 1764 as a fur trading post. This location was a good choice because it was not prone to flooding and was close to the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Most of the early settlers were French. The city was transferred to the Spanish in 1770, then returned to France under a secret treaty with Napoleon. Then, after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, St. Louis became part of the United States.
Now that you know a little about the history of St. Louis, let’s take a look at the city today.
In the heart of the Midwest, St. Louis is one of the most affordable areas in the country in which to live. Residents love their St. Louis Cardinals baseball team and boast one of the best fanbases in the Major Leagues. You’ll also have to try gooey butter cake, toasted raviolis, and local pizza, which is thin, cut into squares, and topped with provel cheese. All of these delectable delights are considered St. Louis staples. It’s a great city if you enjoy a beer, as one of the most famous landmarks, the Anheuser Busch Brewery, was established in St. Louis in 1852.
With vintage buildings, public parks like Forest Park, the 6th most visited U.S. city park, and many cultural attractions, St. Louis is truly a great city to not only visit, but live in as well. From the St. Louis Art Museum to the Missouri History Museum to the St. Louis Zoo, the Gateway City is full of free cultural attractions. The St. Louis Science Center is a great place for kids, and is located just down the road from the zoo. The City Museum is a fantastic space of discovery that the whole family can enjoy.
One of the most well-known St. Louis attractions, and the focus of this article, is probably familiar to you. It’s the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis.
First, some Gateway Arch facts:
- Construction began on February 12, 1963 and was completed on October 28, 1965
- Cost $13 million to build
- It’s made of stainless steel
- It’s 630 feet tall and 630 feet wide from leg to leg
- It’s the tallest man-made monument in the U.S.
- There are 1076 steps in the stairways of each leg of the Arch
- There are 16 windows on each side of the viewing area – each window is 7 x 27 inches
- The Arch is designed to sway as much as 18 inches, and can withstand an earthquake
- It takes a 50 MPH wind to move the top 1 1/2 inches each side of center
- The observation deck at the top can hold up to 160 people
- Entrance to the Arch is from the underground George B. Hartzog, Jr. Visitor Center, located directly beneath it
- Visitors are carried from the lobby level below to the deck at the top of the Arch by a 40-passenger train made up of eight five-passenger capsules in each leg
- The iconic, elegant arc was shaped by the inspired design of Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. Over 43,000 tons of concrete and steel were used to make the monument that celebrates the westward expansion of the United States and the pioneers who made it possible. Since its completion in 1965, millions of visitors from all over the world have witnessed the majesty of this landmark. Once you get to the top, you can look into the Midwest sky and enjoy stunning views stretching up to 30 miles to the east and west.
The Memorial is a Site That Includes More Than the Arch
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial was proposed by city leaders in the 1930s. Multiple different proposals and ideas were offered and discussed. The Gateway Arch National Park, formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial until 2018, is the park in which the Arch was built. The park was designated as a national memorial in 1935, and is maintained by the National Park Service. Commemorating Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a transcontinental United States, the Gateway Arch National Park extends from the Old Courthouse to the steps overlooking the Mississippi River.
A 1947-1948 architectural competition included 172 entrants tasked with creating a landscape design as well as “a large, central feature”. Most of the competitors included landscape architects on their design teams to account for the 62 plus acres of the site. Eero Saarinen was judged the winner with his vision of utilizing the entire landscape of this large, rectangular area. The spectacular centerpiece of Saarinen’s design, the beautiful Gateway Arch, impressed the judges so much that the landscape design was somewhat forgotten. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is the entire site, and not just the Gateway Arch!
The National Historic Landmark includes the Arch and the Grounds
In 1987, the 62 acres of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, including the Gateway Arch monument and the landscape around it, was designated a National Historic Landmark. Along with the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Rushmore, and the Grand Canyon, the Gateway Arch is one of America’s most recognized symbols.
Eero Saarinen and his landscape architect, Dan Kiley, designed a landscape that truly magnify the elegant lines of the Arch structure. This is why the National Historic Landmark designation included the “curvilinear, graceful staircases of toned concrete at the north and south ends which provide access to the grounds from the riverfront. The grounds themselves are carefully landscaped with ponds, trees, and walkways that again reflect the gentle curve of the Arch. Similar curves are repeated in the tunnel entrances for the railroad tracks that cut through the property.”
The Gateway Arch is a Testament to the American Spirit
The Gateway Arch truly celebrates the pioneering spirit of the many people who shaped the St. Louis area and the country. Thomas Jefferson, who negotiated the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, is the reason St. Louis became part of America. This doubled the size of the United States. Along with Jefferson, Lewis & Clark and their westward expansion, including exploring new territory and mapping a route to the Pacific Ocean, are spiritually connected to the Arch today. Even the Old Courthouse, anchoring the west end of the park, is a salute to freedom, as Dred and Harriet Scott filed suit for their freedom from slavery. In addition, Virginia Minor sued for a woman’s right to vote at the same courthouse. Eero Saarinen designed a magnificent monument that honors them all. The Gateway Arch proudly stands as a symbol of American national identity and an iconic example of mid-century modern design.
What are the Best Ways to Enjoy the Gateway Arch?
There are a few different options for viewing this beautiful monument:
- You can purchase tickets at the base and a train will take you to the top. You’ll be transported 630 feet to the top of America’s tallest man-made monument, with each tram tour taking about 45-60 minutes.
- If you feel a bit more adventurous, you can take a 19th century replica of a paddle-wheel riverboat. Offering both day and night cruises, the riverboats at the Gateway Arch provide stunning skyline views. A riverboat cruise can also include lunch or dinner, making it a truly great way to experience the splendor of the Gateway Arch.
- Experience the Gateway Arch from a helicopter. Taking you high above the Mississippi River and St. Louis, taking a ride in a helicopter is a fantastic way to view the Arch and the city.
In addition to the beauty of the Arch, the Gateway Arch Museum reopened 2018. This new museum will tell the amazing stories of Native Americans, explorers, pioneers, rebels, and others who make up the unique history of America. It will feature six themed exhibit areas for visitors to enjoy.
It’s nice to know something about the city in which you are about to move. St. Louis is no exception. Saint Louis is a great Midwestern city that offers great experiences for those moving to St. Louis or the surrounding areas.
About Cord Moving & Storage
If you are moving to the Saint Louis metropolitan area, call one of the best moving companies in St. Louis, Cord Moving & Storage at 314-291-7440. One of our courteous, knowledgeable moving agents will work directly with you to provide an accurate quote up front. We are a local moving company based in Saint Louis that focuses on customer service and quality. Whether a local move from one of the St. Louis suburbs such as Chesterfield, Kirkwood, or Ladue, or looking for a long distance moving company, our moving services and storage rates are affordable and our promise is to get you and your family moved into your new home so you can start enjoying St. Louis and the great attractions like the Gateway Arch!