Gateway Arch National Park

Gateway Arch

Saint Louis

Gateway Arch National Park commemorates Saint Louis’s role in the westward expansion of the United States. Situated at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, Saint Louis was the ideal location from which to explore America’s new territories.

The French founded Saint Louis in 1764. They developed trade with the Osage Indians. The city grew into a successful fur trading post.

In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson signed the Louisiana purchase. The new territory doubled the size of the United States. Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on a mission to explore the new lands. Lewis and Clark set out from Camp Dubois in May of 1804 to establish a route up the Missouri River to the Pacific. They returned to St. Louis in 1806.

Gateway Arch

President Franklin D Roosevelt designated Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in 1935. To create the memorial, 40 blocks of old buildings on the site of the original French colony were demolished.

In 1947 the park ran a contest for architects to design a fitting memorial. Europeans Saarinen’s Gateway Arch design won the contest. Sadly, Saarinen passed away shortly before construction began.

I visited the Arch with the National Park Travelers Club. We started our tour with the movie, “Monument to the Dream.” The movie covers the unique engineering challenges to making Saarinen’s dream a reality. We saw actual footage of men (without harnesses) building the 630 foot tall structure in the 1960s. They hoisted the last steel and concrete triangle into place on October 28, 1965.

From there, we rode the tram up to the viewing platform at the top. The tram cars are small, enclosed compartments with 4 foot tall doorways. They rotate as they go so that you are always level, not tilted.

The museum at the base opened in 2018 when the Memorial was elevated to National Park Status. It interprets the history of the Native Osage people as well as the French Colonial and Westward expansion periods. After exploring the exhibits with Park rangers, our group completed the experience with a steamboat ride on the Mississippi River.

St. Louis Posts

  • Gateway Arch
  • Gateway Arch Museum
  • Peace Medals
  • The Old Courthouse
  • Mississippi River
  • Lewis and Clark Camp River Dubois
  • Confluence Tower
  • Chahokia Mounds

Location: 11 N 4th St #1810, St. Louis, MO 63102
Designation: National Park
Date designated/established: February 22, 2018
Date of my visit: July 14, 2022