Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Webpage: National Park
General Description: The Gateway Arch is an architectural marvel built between 1963 and 1965. The structure is a sandwich of stainless steel on the outside, carbon steel on the inside, and reinforced concrete in the middle. The “Gateway Arch National Park commemorates St Louis’ role in the westward expansion of the United States in the 1800s”. Due to its location at the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois River, St. Louis has long been a successful trading center. When the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 doubled the size of the US, it ensured the prominence for St. Louis as the launching point for westward expansion. By the 1840s it was the last major city on the way west and served as an outfitting point for the westward covered wagon expeditions to California, Utah, and Oregon.
1) For anyone traveling through St. Louis the Gateway Arch cannot be missed. It prominent location on the shores of the Mississippi River makes it visible for miles around the city of St. Louis. While parking can be a challenge in downtown St. Louis, visiting the Gateway Arch is certainly worth the effort. Outside is a nice park surrounding the Arch with both the Old Courthouse and Old Cathedral within easy walking distance.
2) As of 2018, the new facilities underneath the Arch are a marvel in and of themselves. Within you can purchase your tickets to ride the tram to the top of the Arch, viewing the movie about the construction of the Arch, and the steamboat ride on the Mississippi. After you pass through the extensive metal detectors you enter the new museum that is the new location for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The museum is ultra-modern and IMPRESSIVE. It has many exhibits about the westward expansion that provides a very good overview of this time in US history. You get the opportunity to learn about this expansion from both the viewpoints of the emmigrants and the Native Americans.
3) The ride up to the top of the Gateway Arch is a once in a lifetime experience. If you are expecting an amusement park ride, you will be disappointed. It is a sedate ride in an enclosed ball that continuously adjusts itself to keep if level as it goes from the vertical to the horizontal at the top of the Arch. However, the views from the top of the Arch are well worth the time. Be sure to look both to the east and west as there are many things to be seen in both directions. It is also a thrill to be able to look straight down as well.
4) The movie about the construction of the Arch is also worth the price of admission. Nothing like this has ever been tried before and to learn that they were successful with very few problems is absolutely amazing. Once the arch got high enough that ground based cranes could not lift the sections, they had to use cranes on rails that could be moved up the outside of the arch as it continued to extend upward. In order to install the final piece, they actually had to push the two columns apart in order to make enough room to insert the final piece. It is a very interesting story.