Visited St. Louis for the day on September 10th, 2002. Immediately after landing, I rushed over to the Metrolink and rode all the way to Laclede's Landing. Walked over to the base of the Gateway Arch and bought a ticket to go up to the top. Rode up in a tiny little pod which seated five people. At the top there were great views of St. Louis and the
M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. It was a bit scary looking out the tiny windows because it felt like the Arch was going to tip over at any moment but then I got used to it.
Along with the Museum of Westward Expansion and the Old Courthouse, the Gatway to the West is part of Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
It has been build as the symbol of the people leaving for a better life on the western side of the country. Saint Louis was actually the last city they could find before the endless Great Plains of the West. As a reminder of that time, the giant arch proudly stand with its 192 meters high, imitating the shape of the canvas’arches of the pioneers'covered wagons. Designed by Eero Saarinen in 1965, the arch is a wonderful stainless steel gleaming construction. It’s difficult to take a good picture of it unless you’re in a distance.
Inside the Arch, you can visit the museum dedicated to the Westward Expansion, with pictures of Indian Chiefs and stuffed animals as main attraction. I especially remember the giant stuffed bear that stood there, quite impressive !!
You’ll also find a shop selling books and all sorts of souvenirs and a nice fountain in the middle of the museum.
If Saint Louis is famous for one thing, it is the arch. You can se the arch from anywhere in the city, and we saw it from as far away as Cahokia. The arch wasn't a thrill a minute, but to go to the top (after the $10 fee is paid) requires a four minute ride in a unique elevator that reminded me of the escape pods on the Starship Enterprise. One you are at the top, you can look outside of tiny, envelope-sized windows out at the city skyline. It is a really nice view, but the views of the arch itself are better from outside.
The Gateway Arch, or Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, is the most recognizable structure in St. Louis. It commemorates the Louisiana Purchase and settlement of the American West. The construction of the Arch began February 12, 1963 and was completed on October 28, 1965. The Arch stands 630 feet (192 m) tall, and is 630 feet (192 m) at its widest point. Each wall consists of a stainless steel skin covering reinforced concrete from ground level to 300 feet (91 m) or carbon steel and rebar from 300 feet (91 m) to the peak.
A visitor's center rests at the foot of the structure. From the visitor's center one may move to either base of the Arch and enter a unique tramway much like an elevator. It takes four minutes to reach the top whre the observation area is. Small windows, almost invisible from the ground, allow views across the Mississippi River and southern Illinois.
There's a wonderful museum tucked away underground beneath the Gateway Arch in the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial called The Museum of Westward Expansion. This museum documents man's irrepressible urge to explore. The museum made me feel as though I were on the trip to explore and settle lands further and further westward. I was delighted to see that Park Rangers are on hand to answer questions for visitors.
Also under the Arch is a bookstore and gift shop run by the National Park Services.
Personally, I was quite impressed with the size and scope of this museum. My favorites were the gigantic photographs of Indian Chiefs who are wearing the Peace Metals given to them by Lewis and Clark.
Here are Jill's impressions of this museum:
"Underground at the bottom of the arch is the free Museum of Westward Expansion, recording the westward movement of pioneers and their effect on indigenous peoples. It describes the Lewis & Clark expedition. Although this exhibit is 30 years old, it has worn well. It uses the technological advances of the time. Two robotic figures, Lincoln and a Cavalryman with Custer, introduce the exhibit. There are also a number of dioramas with stuffed animals in their habitat. Bear, bison, and long horn steer give a sense of being there. This permanent exhibit uses small artifacts in wall cases and the walls themselves to show shifting scenes as viewers walk by.
Although the scope of the exhibit is the chronology of populating the west, quite a bit of the space deals with Lewis & Clark. Words from the journal illustrate the numerous photo murals. Much of the exhibit's impact comes from the large photos and painting reproductions. One criticism is the lack of identification of famous photos and their photographers."
Open daily 9am- 6pm Winter
You can reach the top of the arch from where you’ll get an unbeatable view on Saint Louis’ skyline. Therefore, you have to buy a ticket that gives access to a sort of little lift, where you can sit, and that brings you to the top in 4 minutes. It was quite a strange feeling, as it goes all the way up step by step :-) The view from up there is really worth it...
The St Louis Gateway Arch is a marvel of engineering. The arch was designed by architect Eero Saarinen in 1965 and the tram system by Dick Bowser.
The ride to the top of the 630 foot (192 meter) arch is a experience not to be missed and I can only liken it it to a ride in Mork's Egg Spaceship from the television show, "Mork and Mindy." The views are breathtaking once you are at the top!!!!
The "transporter system" was designed in two weeks by a man who actually dropped out of college, Dick Bowser. Bowser and his father developed elevators that could travel horizontally and diagonally. His challenge for the arch was to design a conveyance system to transport 11,000 people in a 14 hour day. Using a combination of elevator principles and Ferris Wheel principles, the "train of capsules" system was born.
Each capsule rotates 155 degrees during the trip to the top of the arch. When the capsule starts out from the lower zone the tracks are overhead but as it goes up the arch the tracks then go beneath the capsule.
Once you exit the capsule you are on a small observation platform within the arch. The windows are tiny because of the immense pressure from the arch itself, if the windows were any bigger they would blow out.
Looking out you can see downtown St Louis on one side and Illinois and the mighty Mississippi River on the other.
By far, this is the most famous site in St. Louis. This gleaming arch rests near the shore of the Mississippi River. It dwarfs all nearby structures and stands as a shining metallic monument to America's westward expansion. It is possible to go up to the top via a special type of "pod" transport. Each pod fits about 5 people inside as it slowly goes through the hollow interior of the arch. After you buy tickets, there are some exhibits before you board the pods. The view from the top is impressive as you can see the city of St. Louis and gaze across the river.
Tickets can be bought online and might be a good idea if you think it will be a busy day and you are somewhat limited for time.
As the most recognized symbol of St. Louis, any traveler must see the Gateway Arch. At the top of the arch, one looks down 630 feet over the city, the Mississippi River and beyond.
A warning for anyone with claustrophobia: the ride to the top requires a four minute ride in a very small, egg-shaped capsule that holds four people. It is very claustrophobic. Now I know how Mork from Ork must've felt...
Don't miss it.
"Well this is the one thing that everyone knows about St Louis"
"That whacking big arch"
"Can you go up it ?"
"Certainly can, the lift is supposed to a masterpiece of engineering. It's actually more of a 'tram' than a 'lift', or 'elevator' I suppose for Americans. Then you can walk out across the very apex. Of course being in America you could'nt possibly use shank's pony and walk up the legs, like you can with the Eiffel tower."
"Any smart comments about it then ?"
"Well, I think it's only half-finished, it looks to me that they should have built another one next to it and painted it yellow"
"Then it would create a giant M...oh I see what you mean..."
"They would have least have got sponsorship for it"
"The McDonald's arch eh ?"
"At least its appropriate, an arch symbolises a new beginning, and once you leave St Louis, the real wild west begins"
"Well saddle 'em up cowboy and we'll hit the trail"
"Yee haa pard-ner"
This is why you came to the city if you didn't know anyone here. It is unique, not just a tower, but an Arch. The is a museum in the base. It is worth the time for the view, plus the extras near the riverfront.
Obviously if you visit St. Louis the Gateway Arch should be at the top of your list for places to visit and sites to see as it is one of the major landmarks of the United States. While visiting the Arch you should also make it a point to visit the Jefferson National Expansion Museum located beneath the Arch. The museum includes history of the natives from the region as well as the story of Lewis & Clark. You can also take a small car from the base of the Arch to the top for a great view of both the Missouri and the Illinois sides of the Mississippi River.
My favorite fact about the Arch is that it is as wide as it is tall. Impressive!
Take a ride to the top of the arch to see some great views of the city. Be warned that the elevator going to the top is very cramped and creaks so it may not be good for those who are clastrophobic. Once at the top see some great views. At the bottom, you get to see the westward expansion museum.
If you go to Saint Louis must see this. Located downtown it is worldwide landmark built 1968(I think) it is about 630 feet and the park around is nice. Of course you have to take the tram and go up to the observation deck where you take pictures of downtown or the riverboats in the Mississippi river out of the 32 viewing windows. The tram takes only 3 1/2 minutes to get to the top and the same amount of time to get to the bottom. The price of tickets for Adults is $8.00. Located under the arch they have a couple of gift shops and the Westward Expansion Museum which show exhibits of the westward expansion, The Lewis and Clark expedition and other related exhibits the museum is free. You can also take the riverboat tour also I am not sure of the price.
The arch is 630 feet tall and to get to the top you ahve to sit in a little pod that holds five people and you are bent over it is 4 foot by 4 foot it takes 4 mins to go up and 3 mins to come down , it is on a pully system one side up while the other goes down ,once up there you have about 6 small windows to look out of.