The St. Louis Arch provides a great view of the area from more than 600 feet above the ground.
The Arch is a major tourist attraction in the United States, so, of course, it was a must-see on our recent trip.
The city is known as the “Gateway to the West” and the arch exemplifies that motto. Construction took place in 1963-65. It opened to the public in 1967.
We’ve been to St. Louis six times in the past 15 years. Each time, the Arch has been a must-see attraction.
It seems to be an architectural marvel, to me. How they were able to build it with a curve is amazing to me.
The structure is beautiful. It highlights the St. Louis downtown and riverfront areas. Even Busch Stadium – home of Major League Baseball’s Cardinals – highlights the Arch with a view from the seats.
The Arch stands as part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial park grounds. It reaches 630 feet from one base to the other, according to www.gatewayarch.com. The legs are 54 feet wide.
The stainless steel facility stands about 630 feet at its peak.
The ride up to the top is “fun.” You sit in an egg-shaped closed car as the tram moves about 340 feet per minute. It takes about four minutes to reach the top via tram. If you are claustrophobic , the trip up may not work for you. However, if you can bear with it for a few minutes, the ride is worth it.
Once at the top, the view is amazing! I love the Arch’s curved walkway to the very top.
You can see for 30 miles one way when you look through the slots at the top. Nearby, you can see the downtown skyline, Busch Stadium, the Old Courthouse. Looking across the river toward Illinois, you can see barges moving up and down the Mississippi River. Illinois’ side doesn’t offer the view that the west side does, but still, it is a great view.
Depending on your schedule, you can spend all the time you want up there. I enjoyed taking a few minutes and just admiring the sites.
There was plenty of snow on the ground and ice chunks in the water during this visit. I prefer seeing green grass and leaves of trees, as well as a clean river. But, that just means another trip to the top on a future visit.
The ride back down only takes a couple of minutes, by the way.
The base of the Arch offers a great visit, as well.
The National Park Service, which operates the Arch, also has a museum highlighting America’s westward movement.
The Museum of the Westward Expansion follows America’s growth, from the days of the Native Americans to the pioneers moving west.
The museum uses characters, such as a person from the Lewis and Clark expedition team, Native American and Buffalo soldier (African American Calvary soldier) using animatronics to provide movement during some exhibits.
The Lewis and Clark team member highlights the expedition and its challenges.
The Native American shares the story of America’s expansion form his view. He shares the stories with a young tribal member.
The museum has an interesting section featuring the tribes Lewis and Clark encountered during their explorations.
The Buffalo soldier discusses what he saw during his travels.
The museum features the challenges pioneers encountered in moving west.
Opportunists trying to take advantage of the Gold Rush, etc., are featured.
The museum does a good job of accurately telling the westward story from several points of view. It doesn’t hide facts or recreate them for politically correct reasons.
Near the end of the museum visit is an exhibit of key expansion dates and events.
The museum, as well as the park grounds, is free and open to the public. The only admission costs are for the ride to the top of the Arch and the movie theaters.
The theaters offer short movies related to the American expansion theme.
We checked out the gift shop for a few souvenirs. If you are a klutz (like someone unnamed on this blog), then you may not want to pick up any breakable items. Again, I sincerely apologize to the National Park Service. They were very nice about not making me pay for the broken arch. Of course, Lisa banned me from touching anything in stores from that day on.
St. Louis is celebrating its 250th birthday in 2014. Volunteers have made 250 birthday cakes to display around the area. We came upon two in the Arch area.
The first was actually at the base of the Arch. It was a nicely designed cake.
The second was a beautifully designed cake near the Old Cathedral on the park grounds. The blue paint used and the design just popped in our view.
The park grounds are great for walking or jogging. We saw both. It was quite chilly during our visit,. So I am looking forward to a return trip in warmer weather to take advantage of the view a walk through the park grounds offers.
FYI: The area is undergoing a lot of street construction. It’s still easy to maneuver around and get to the park. But, travelers need to be aware that some streets are closed near the park.
We had a great visit to the Arch and the national park grounds. As I commented previously, the Arch is a must-see when in St. Louis. We are looking forward to our next opportunity to visit it.
For more information on the St. Louis Arch and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, please see its website at www.gatewayarch.com.
DISCLAIMER: Thank you to the St. Louis Visitors Bureau for the complimentary tickets for the Arch tram ride. However, all opinions, comments and views are ours.