Gateway Arch – St. Louis, Missouri
Regardless of which way you come into St. Louis you will see the outstanding national monument, the Arch. This is the tallest national monument in the United States standing 630 ft tall. This carenary curved structure is considered the most structurally sound arch shape possible.
There are 900 tons of stainless steel in the arch with a weight of 17,246 lbs. It cost $13 million to build and another $3.5 million for transportation system costs. There could be no more than a 1/64th inch margin of error as to where the constructed legs would meet in order to assure the safety of the arch. The Arch sways a maximum of 18" (9" each way) in a 150 mile per hour wind. The usual sway is 1/2".
The Arch has windows for you to look out of when you are on the top which are 7" x 24". This allows you to look out over the river and the city from a truly birds eye view. The Observation platform can hold 100-140 people at a time. Visitors to the top can stay as long as they like but the usual trip is 45 minutes (or until closing time.)
You are taken to the top of the Arch on a tram designed to work in this configuration. It sounds scary as you move up (or down) as the tram "clicks" with each adjustment to keep you level. The trip up takes about 4 minutes while the trip down takes about 3 minutes.
While at the top of the Arch you can see Illinois across the Mississippi River and downtown St. Louis from the other side. Since St. Louis is often hazy there are days with, in addition to the fog off the river, your view will be less than perfect, but it is part of being on the river!
Visitors waiting to ride the trams to the top have two unique exhibits they can look over. "When Riverboats Ruled" is in the South Tram load zone where you will see the history of the riverboats influence on the city of St. Louis. On the North Tram load zone you will see the exhibit "Fitting the Final Piece" which shows you the final piece of the Arch being put in place.
Lewis and Clark Photomural Exhibit
This exhibit is on permanent display on the back wall of the Museum of Westward Expansion under the Gateway Arch. The exhibit consists of 33 large format murals depicting campsites and places where major events took place in the Corps of Discovery Expedition from 1804-1806.
From Lambert International Airport (North)
Traveling east on I-70, take the Memorial Drive-Downtown Exit (250B). Travel through one stoplight (Pine St.), then turn left on Chestnut. Cross over the highway then turn left on Memorial Drive. Stay in the right lane and turn right on Washington Avenue. Traveling east, the garage is on the right. Note: If you’re flying your own plane into St. Louis, we suggest landing at St. Louis Downtown Airport, located five minutes from the Jefferson Memorial.
From Illinois (East)
Traveling west on I-64, I-55/70 cross the Poplar Street Bridge. Take the Memorial Drive/Arch Riverfront/Convention Center Exit Only (right lane). Garage parking and the riverfront are accessible by traveling past the Arch and taking the first right onto Washington Avenue. Traveling east, the garage is on the right.
From South St. Louis
Traveling north on I-55 and I-44 (I-44 East merges with I-55 North) take the Downtown Exit (209A) and then take the Memorial Drive Exit (251C) which is the 2nd right-hand lane (the far right lane goes to Illinois). Garage parking and the riverfront are accessible by traveling past the Arch (right lane) and taking the first right (Washington Avenue). Traveling east, the garage is on the right.
From West St. Louis
I-64/40 will be closed from Ballas Road to I-170 for the duration of 2008.
The following directions will apply if you enter the highway east of I-170. Traveling east on I-64/40 take the Broadway Exit (last Missouri Exit-40B). At the stoplight at the end of the ramp turn left. Go through one stoplight then turn left onto Fourth Street at the second stoplight and travel north to Walnut. Turn right on Walnut and travel east to Memorial Drive. Turn left on Memorial Drive. The Arch garage is past the Arch (traveling north). Turn right on Washington Avenue. Traveling east, the garage is on the right.
The Jefferson Memorial is easily accessible from St. Louis’ MetroLink Lightrail. Board at any station and exit at Laclede’s Landing and follow the signs to the Memorial (a five minute walk). The trip from Lambert National Airport to Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is 28 minutes, with departures to and from Lambert every 10 minutes.
A bus drop-off area is available to better serve our visitors. It is located alongside the Old Cathedral parking lot, with access from Memorial Drive. Parking for buses and recreational vehicles is available in the privately-owned parking lots on the south end of the Arch grounds at 2nd and Poplar Streets. Leonore K. Sullivan Boulevard, on the east side of the Arch, can also be used as a bus drop-off area.
Paid parking is available in the Arch Parking Garage located on the north edge of the Arch grounds off of Washington Avenue. Parking is $6 for the first 9 hours and 75 cents for each additional half hour. The garage has an Early Bird special of $4 for those entering the facility between the hours of 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Maximum vehicle height is seven (7) feet.
Please note that it is a considerable walk from all parking points to the Arch. The Old Courthouse is located adjacent to many public parking areas within one to two city blocks.
For most of the year, the Gateway Arch and Museum of Westward Expansion are open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
(winter hours). They are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
The remainder of the year from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Arch and Museum are open from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m (summer hours).
Fees: Adults: $10 for the tram, $7 movie, $12 Riverboat, $14 Tram and Movie and $22 Tram & Riverboat. Youth: $7, $4, $12,, $11, $19 respectively with Chidren being $3, $2.50, $6, $5.50 and $9.