Built as a monument to the Western Expansion of the 19th century and symbolises the ‘Gateway to the West’, the Gateway Arch in St Louis is one of the most recognisable symbols of America.
Standing at 630ft tall it is not only the tallest arch in the world but the tallest monument in the United States. Designed by American-Finnish architect Eero Saarinen it was officially opened in 1965, four years after his death.
Here are some facts about the Gateway Arch
- 40 Blocks of St Louis were demolished to accommodate the arch and it’s surrounding park
- The arches two legs were built separately and if the measurements were off by 1/64 of an inch they wouldn’t have joined at the top
- The arch is as tall as it is wide
- The designer of the tram had no formal engineering experience. Dick Bowser came up with the project in under two weeks and it is part lift and part ferris wheel
- Dwight D Eisenhower is the only President who has been to the top and that was after it had closed for the night in 1967. Apparently the Secret Service won’t allow Presidents up there due to security concerns
What I was completely unaware of was that you could ride to the viewing gallery besides even going inside it. Each leg is hollow to allow a system of trams to take passengers to the top. Now I couldn’t picture what kind of a tram could possibly be inside the arch so actually experiencing a ride to the top was not what I imagined. Each of the two ‘trams’ consists of eight cars that are oval shaped and seat up to five passengers each. These are boarded by waiting on steps outside each car.
Admittedly it was very cramped inside but it is a quirky experience to ride to the observation deck. Even looking at images of the arch it gives the impression of being flat and not hollow at all. Between each of the legs is a large museum and gift shop.
The arch and surrounding park reopened in July 2018 after a five year and $380m renovation project.
See more about Gateway Arch National Park here. Tickets are offered to visit the arch combined with riverboat cruises to make the most of your visit.