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The Gateway Arch: A Soaring Symbol of St. Louis

Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch, an iconic and awe-inspiring monument in St. Louis, Missouri, stands tall as a symbol of America’s westward expansion and the city’s pivotal role in the nation’s history. Towering at 630 feet, the stainless steel structure not only offers breathtaking views of the city and the Mississippi River but also invites visitors to reflect on the courage and determination of the pioneers who sought new opportunities in the West. In this article, we will explore the Gateway Arch’s history, design, and significance, as well as the various activities and experiences that await visitors at this remarkable landmark.

History and Design

Designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen in 1947, the Gateway Arch was completed in 1965 after nearly three years of construction. The winning design from a national competition, Saarinen’s vision for the monument, was inspired by the “gateway to the west” notion and sought to create a timeless, elegant structure representing the city’s pioneering spirit.


The Arch is a weighted catenary curve, the shape of which is determined by gravity and tension. This unique design allows the structure to stand firmly without any internal or external support, making it a feat of modern engineering. Clad in stainless steel, the Arch gleams in the sun and changes hues with the shifting light throughout the day, adding to its breathtaking beauty.

Visiting the Gateway Arch

Visiting the Gateway Arch offers numerous experiences, including a tram ride to the top, an underground museum, and riverboat cruises on the Mississippi River.


  • Tram Ride to the Top: The Journey to the Top tram ride takes visitors on a thrilling four-minute ascent to the observation deck of the Arch. From here, you can soak in the panoramic views of downtown St. Louis, the Mississippi River, and even spot the Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals.

  • Gateway Arch Museum: Located beneath the Arch, the Gateway Arch Museum delves into the history of St. Louis and America’s westward expansion. Through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and stories, visitors can learn about the region’s Native American communities, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the construction of the Arch itself.

  • Riverboat Cruises: For a unique perspective of the Gateway Arch, consider taking a riverboat cruise along the Mississippi River. These one-hour cruises offer stunning views of the Arch and the St. Louis skyline, accompanied by historical commentary from the captain.


The Gateway Arch is more than just a monument; it is a testament to America’s pioneering spirit and the unwavering determination of those who ventured westward in search of new opportunities. Visiting the Arch provides a chance to appreciate the remarkable engineering, design, and history of this iconic symbol of St. Louis. Whether you take in the breathtaking views from the top or explore the rich history in the museum, the Gateway Arch is an unforgettable experience for all who visit.


City Museum