The Gateway Arch is St. Louis’ most recognizable landmark. The 630-foot (192-meter) high stainless steel archway looms high over downtown. Climb to the top for breath-taking 360-degree views of the city. There’s a museum, educational cinema, gift shop and gourmet food store inside the arch.
Stand beneath the monument to get a different perspective on its size; the width at the base is the same as the height. It’s the tallest man-made monument in the U.S.
The Gateway Arch sits at the center of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, a park in downtown. Architect Eero Saarinen designed this monument to commemorate Thomas Jefferson, and St. Louis’ role in the U.S. expansion to the west. The Arch was opened to the public in 1967 and since then has been a steady draw for out-of-towners.
Tickets to the top of the arch often sell out during the busy spring and summer months, so make sure to purchase in advance online. An eight-carriage tram takes visitors to the top in lieu of an elevator. There are an additional six flights of stairs to the viewing platform, which isn’t accessible for wheelchairs or strollers. On a clear day, it’s possible to see as far as 30 miles (48 kilometers) from this pinnacle above the city.
The Museum of Westward Expansion, located inside the arch, provides some great photos and information on the construction of this steel marvel. There are also a rich array of displays depicting life in St. Louis in the 1800s, when it was a bustling port city. There are some great details about early pioneers and the U.S. expansion to the west. The museum theater shows two documentaries daily: one about the building of the monument, and the other about the historic expedition of Lewis and Clark. Pick up souvenirs at the museum gift shop, and gourmet food and home wares at the Levee Mercantile shop, both at the bottom of the arch.
The Gateway Arch is open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. It’s a short walk from central Washington Avenue, where there are hotels, shops and restaurants, and is well-serviced by trains and buses.