When people hear the name of the city of St. Louis, most immediately picture the massive steel arch that stands as a gateway to the west in the city. The Arch was created along the riverfront to revive it and stimulate the economy hopefully. It stands as the tallest memorial in the United States, and also the most towering steel monument in the world. Architects battled in competition for the prize money the winner would receive if their design were picked for the memorial. The structure accomplished its mission, as it gets thousands of visitors to the area which will naturally help the economy in St. Louis.
The Massive Arch
After winning the contest, architect Eero Saarinen began plans on the towering 630-foot-tall arch, and the width across is the same distance. The two legs of this massive arch are set in concrete that is 60 feet deep, to support the weight of the structure. The legs are wider, and the arch tapers down as it nears the top, making itself wider as it descends to the other leg. The arch is also resistant to earthquakes. It was designed to be able to sway should one strike, and it can move up to 9 inches in either direction to absorb the impact. The arch can also withstand winds up to over 140 miles per hour, making the structure stable yet flexible.
The Visitor Center
The Gateway Arch has an underground visitor center that lies directly below it. Covering over 70,000 square feet, the center has some great exhibits and is the location of the arch trams. Two theaters are available to watch films on the construction and history of the arch. Several hundred exhibits are available to wander around and look at. There is plenty to do and see here, and it is fun and entertaining for all ages.
The Arch Trams
Yes, you can go up in the arch! There are three ways to do this. First, there are the emergency stairs, a set of 1,076 in each leg. That is a lot of stairs, but if you want something easier you can take a 12-passenger elevator up to 372 feet in height. Lastly, there is a tram in each leg that will ascend you up the arch. The trams can seat 40 people to carry to the top and back down. Once you reach the top, you can exit the tram to the observation area. Small windows are available to see the top-of-the-world view and take some memorable photographs. The height of the arch offers incredible views up to 30 miles from all angles, so don’t forget your camera as it is breathtaking.
The massive arch can be tempting for people to try stunts. A Huge steel structure has seen vandalism, a man that climbed the Arch using suction cups and then parachuted to the ground, a hot air balloon and its captain tried to fly through the middle but hit the arch, and then there are the pilots and the airplanes. If you have any experience as a pilot then maybe you could understand seeing that massive arch and the sudden desire to fly through the middle of it, almost like an airplane obstacle course. In 1965, the Federal Aviation Administration warned aviators that any who flew through the arch would have their licenses revoked and some hefty fines to pay. Since then, at least a dozen pilots have disobeyed these orders, and zipped through the arch, most likely to the delight of those in the observation area at the top, and definitely to the pilot.
The administration warned aviators that any who flew through the arch would have their licenses revoked and some hefty fines to pay. Since then, at least a dozen pilots have disobeyed these orders, and zipped through the arch, most likely to the delight of those in the observation area at the top, and definitely to the pilot.
Lighting of the Arch
The idea of lighting up the arch was tossed around for a few years before they were installed. The arch is now illuminated every night from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. by floodlights. Here are 44 light fixtures that have been installed in 4 pits a little below ground level. The arch was lit up with pink lights during breast cancer awareness month; show its support and providing a beacon of sorts to those that are struggling. The lights of the arch at night are amazing, and as it gleams and stands proudly, representing the gateway to the west.
The Grounds and the Arch
While it is is the main attraction, the walk to and around the structure is breathtaking. The mighty Mississippi River is close, and you can see the boats and ships that are working their way up and down the river. There are another 62 acres that make up the grounds surrounding the arch. They are all nicely paved accompanied by green grass and trees for a peaceful setting. The Old Courthouse, the Luther Ely Smith Square, and a few surrounding streets are all part of the entire memorial area.
There is only one arch
There is only one such structure in the world like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Masterfully created down to the last detail has enabled this massive gateway to withstand the elements including earthquakes, lightning, and high winds. Daredevils attempt to parachute or fly their planes between the legs of the arch and some summon their courage to take a tram to the top, where 16 small windows on either side await providing some of the best views you will ever see