Facts About The Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, is the tallest arch in the world and the tallest monument in the Western Hemisphere. It was built as part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial to honor Thomas Jefferson’s vision and the role St. Louis played in the expansion of the United States westward. The plans for the memorial were first drafted by a citizen Luther Ely Smith in 1933 after seeing a memorial in Indiana that inspired him to imagine a memorial on the banks of the Mississippi. However, construction did not begin until February 12, 1963. On October 28, 1965, the last steel section of the Gateway Arch was installed.
Near where the south leg now sits, a man named Pierre Laclede used an ax to mark a tree in 1763. This established the site of a French fur trading post that eventually became a French colonial town that is now the city of St. Louis.
Former President Thomas Jefferson was responsible for the Louisiana Purchase, which helped to expand the United States. He was also responsible for sending Lewis and Clark on the famous expedition to the west. It was his vision to expand the United States that is honored with the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
Sadly, Eero Saarinen was never able to see his vision come to life. He died in 1961 of a brain tumor at the age of 51.
The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial includes the Gateway Arch, the Old Courthouse, and the Museum of Westward Expansion.
The monument opened to the public on June 10, 1967.
The Gateway Arch was designed by Eero Saarinen, a Finnish-American architect, and Hannskarl Bandel, a structural engineer, in 1947.
To climb to the top of the arch by foot, you would have to take 1,076 steps.
The foundation for the Gateway Arch was laid in 1961 but the arch’s construction did not begin until February 12th, 1963.
By comparison, the Washington Monument has 897 steps, and The Willis Tower in Chicago has 2,109 steps.
The foundations for each of the legs of the Gateway Arch are approximately 60 feet deep.
There are 16 windows on each side of the observation area.
The Gateway Arch is 630 feet tall. This is equivalent to 63 stories.
Made out of ¾ inch plate glass, each hinged and locked window measures 7 inches by 27 inches.
The Gateway Arch has a 630 foot span when measured from the outer edges of each leg. At their base the legs are 54 feet wide.
From the east side windows visitors can view the Mississippi River and the state of Illinois, and from the west side windows you have a great view of the city of St. Louis.
It took 142 stainless steel sections to create the Gateway Arch.
The top of the arch won’t sway until the wind blows about 50 miles per hour, and then it would only move 1 ½ inches from the center.
The weight of the memorial is 43,220 pounds. This includes the stainless steel, the concrete layer between the outer and inner stainless steel, and all other components required to construct the arch.
There are six 1/2 by 20 inch lightning rods plus an aircraft light on the top of the arch.
The 16 windows at the observation room are 7″x 27″ in size. They are small because larger windows could not withstand the pressure at the top of the structure. The observation room is 7’2″x65′.
The cost to build the arch totaled 13 million dollars.
When the Gateway Arch was completed in 1965 it had cost $13 million to build. By today’s value that $13 million would be equal to $180 million.
The tram system that Dick Bowser created to carry visitors to the top of the arch was developed in just two weeks.
There are trams that take visitors to the observation deck. If only one tram is running 240 passengers can be taken to the top every hour. This number doubles if both trams are running.
There is a tram with 8 capsules on each leg of the arch. Each capsule holds 5 passengers. It takes approximately 4 minutes to get up to the to of the arch at a speed of 340 feet per minute.
Although there are stairs to the top, visitors can’t use them. There are 1,076 stairs but they are reserved for emergencies and maintenance.
The arch has been bathed in white light between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. via a system of floodlights since November of 2001.
There are elevators in the Gateway Arch, but these are for maintenance and emergencies only. The elevators can travel at 400 feet per minute.
The arch has been illuminated in pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
In 2014 stain samples were taken and an estimation was made as to the cost to clean the Gateway Arch. It is estimated that it will cost $340,000.
Graffiti is scratched on the lower five to seven feet of the monument.
The Gateway Arch has been featured in television shows and movies, as well as in books and other literature.
The arch was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1987, and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.