Gateway Arch Facts

Impressive Facts About the Marvelous Gateway Arch

Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, the Gateway Arch is an arched gateway to the American West. This article provides some more interesting facts about this monument.
Part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Gateway Arch is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the world, and a national monument in the United States. This magnificent memorial, built to last a thousand years, has people marvel at its construction, and return with stories of its dazzling height and sheer strength. Some interesting facts about the Gateway Arch are mentioned below.

When was it built?

The Gateway Arch was built in 1965 by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. His design was chosen after a nationwide competition held between 1947-1948, to design a monument honoring the iconic image of the city of St. Louis, Missouri. The construction of the arch which started on 12th February, 1963 was completed on 28th October, 1965. The Arch cost about 13 million dollars to build, and is shaped in the form of an inverted catenary. It was opened to the public on 24th July, 1967, immediately after a unique tram system that combined an elevator cable lift system was installed inside it.

How tall is it?

At a height of 630 feet, the Gateway Arch is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. It is also the tallest accessible structure in Missouri and the tallest arch in the world. It is grounded with 60 foot deep foundations that make it strong enough to withstand earthquakes and high winds. The structure is designed to sway nearly 18 inches in winds of up to 150 miles per hour. The dimensions of the two legs of the Arch have an interesting history. Both legs were simultaneously constructed, and when it was time to connect them together at the apex, it created a thermal expansion problem during architectural alignment. The St. Louis Fire Department came up with a novel idea and sprayed the south leg with water until it had cooled to the point where it could be aligned with the north leg.

How much does it weigh?

The Gateway Arch weighs 43,000 tons, of which nine hundred tons are stainless steel, used to build its exterior. Each wall is made of stainless steel, which covers two carbon steel walls with reinforced concrete in the middle from ground level. This is what adds to the structure's strength and keeps it grounded while it sways in high winds. It has a hollow interior to facilitate a tram transport route and two emergency stairwells of 1,076 steps each.

What does it stand for?

The reasons for building the Gateway Arch were numerous. First, it was built with a vision of being an avant-garde construction that would symbolize the architectural expression of simplicity and modernity. Second, in 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial National Historic Site to memorialize the role of Thomas Jefferson and others responsible for America's territorial expansion to the west. Third was the decision related to building it in St.Louis. It was done to acknowledge the importance of St. Louis's citizens in the settling of the west, and finally, to revitalize the deteriorating riverfront. All these reasons contributed to its construction.

The Gateway Arch is a perfect blend of beauty and modern architectural styling. Millions of tourists visit it annually, not only to view this marvel, but to take its tram ride, which is only a four minute ride up to the top. Just reading about the Gateway Arch will not do justice to this structure, but visiting this imposing artifact on the banks of the Mississippi river sure will.
St. Louis Skyline with the Gateway Arch
St. Louis Gateway Arch
Downtown St. Louis, MO with the Gateway Arch