Follow @ejourna (517 followers)

Gateway Arch — St. Louis

Gateway Arch-Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

St. Louis' Gateway Arch

St. Louis’ Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch, sit­u­ated along the banks of the Mississippi in the mid­dle of down­town St. Louis, can be seen from a great dis­tance away. As a child, I have many fond mem­o­ries of see­ing the arch appear out across the flat expanse of Illinois. It marked the mid-point of our long dri­ving trips from north­ern Illinois to north­east Arkansas.

Believe it or not, The Gateway arch is the tallest man-made mon­u­ment in the United States, at 630 feet. It attracts more than four mil­lion vis­i­tors each year. The Arch is a struc­ture known as a cate­nary curve, the shape a free-hanging chain takes when held at both ends, and is con­sid­ered the most structurally-sound arch shape. The span of the Arch legs at ground level is 630 feet, the same as its height.

There are two under­ground entrances to the Gateway Arch.

The south entrance fea­tures life in St. Louis dur­ing the 1800s, a time when the St. Louis Riverfront was alive with steam­boats, fur traders and merchants.

The north entrance takes you back to 1965, the year con­struc­tion of the Arch was com­pleted. You can expe­ri­ence what it was like for the con­struc­tion work­ers fit­ting the final piece of the Arch in place.

The base of the Gateway Arch is home to the The Museum of Westward Expansion, which pre­serves  arti­facts from the days of Lewis and Clark. The exhibits allow you to explore the world of the American Indians and 19th cen­tury pio­neers who shaped the his­tory of the American West.

Complementing the museum is a gift shop. If you visit the gift shop, I highly rec­om­mend pick­ing up one of the gor­geous books detail­ing the his­tory of St. Louis or the mak­ing of the Arch.

From here you can take a tram up into the Arch. The trams are strange and inter­est­ing, but are not for the claus­tro­pho­bic. If you’re fairly tall or large, fit­ting into the tram cars, which are shaped like the egg space­ship from Mork and Mindy (I’m dat­ing myself, aren’t I?), will be a bit of a chal­lenge. I’m 6′ 1″ and felt a bit cramped, with four other peo­ple in my tram car.

Fear not though, the ride to the top of the arch is pretty short and there are air vents in the tram car to keep you from com­pletely freak­ing out. Once you’ve reached the top and climb out of the egg, you find your­self at the apex of the arch. Its a mod­er­ately sized space that slopes from side to side. Both “walls” of the obser­va­tion deck are fit­ted with win­dows and plaques show­ing how the area looked a hun­dred years prior.

The view from the top of the arch out over the Mississippi is breath­tak­ing. You can see for up to 30 miles into Illinois and up and down the river on a clear day! If you turn around, you find your­self fac­ing down­town St. Louis, with a per­fectly aligned view of St. Louis’ Old Courthouse in all it’s fed­eral style majesty.

View of Courthouse from top of Arch

View of Courthouse from top of Arch

Tickets for the tram are $7.00 for adults 16 years and older, and $5.00 for chil­dren 3 to 15 years old.

The Tucker Theater  shows a doc­u­men­tary titled “Monument to the Dream”, which is a 30 minute long film doc­u­ment­ing the con­struc­tion of the Gateway Arch. Cost is $4.00 for adults 16 years and older and $2.50 for chil­dren 3 to 15.

You can also see the 40 minute film, “Lewis & Clark”, on the 40 foot giant screen of the Odyssey Theater. Ticket prices are the same as for the Tucker Theater.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Arch and Museum are open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, which are con­sid­ered the sum­mer hours. Winter hours are from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. The Arch and Museum are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

As if that weren’t enough to do, you can also take a 60 minute site see­ing cruise aboard the Tom Sawyer or Becky Thatcher river­boats! A National Park Service Ranger nar­rates the cruise, teach­ing you all about the his­tory of the St. Louis Riverfront, the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch.

The cruise costs $14.00 for adults 16 and older, $8.00 for kids 3 to 15, and is free for infants and tod­dlers under 3 years.

For more information:

St. Louis Riverfront
St. Louis, MO 63102
Phone: (314) 982‑1410
Toll-Free: (877) 982‑1410
Public Email:

The National Park Service also hosts a num­ber of pod­casts, called Jeff’s PastCasts. Follow any of the links below to down­load the MP3 pod­casts and load them on your music player or play them from your computer.

PastCast: Colonial St. Louis
PastCast: After Lewis and Clark
PastCast: A Budding City
PastCast: Westward Ho!
PastCast: A River City

Related posts:

  1. Holiday Travelers Receive a Free Night at the Renaissance St. Louis Grand & Suites Hotel
  2. City Museum Saint Louis Family Vacation Package
  3. St. Louis Proudly Wears Pet Friendly Destination Collar
  4. Girls Just Want to Have Fun: Great Gals’ Getaways in Missouri
  5. National Parks of New York Harbor Video Tours

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>