MISSOURI STATE SYMBOLS
The Gateway Arch is perhaps Missouri’s most iconic and recognizable structure. In the 1930s, St. Louis officials developed the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association intended to revitalize the riverfront and increase tourism in the city. After a decade of research and fundraising, they opened a public design competition with the goal of erecting a monument to western expansion. St. Louis was near the site of the 1804 Lewis and Clark Expedition launch, and the city later served as a gathering place for pioneers collecting supplies for trips to the American West, earning the city the nickname “Gateway to the West.”
Architect Eero Saarinen designed the winning monument in 1947 in the shape of a weighted catenary arch. Construction began in 1963 and was completed in 1965. Today, approximately 4,000,000 tourists visit the site every year. Visitors to the Gateway Arch may explore an underground museum and ride a tram up the inside of the Arch to the top where an observation deck provides a stunning view of St. Louis, the Mississippi River and surrounding areas.
In February 2018, the Gateway Arch and nearby Old Courthouse were designated as Gateway Arch National Park, the first national park in Missouri. Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill in 2021 designating the Gateway Arch as Missouri’s official state monument.
- The Gateway Arch is 630 feet tall, making it the tallest human-made accessible structure in Missouri (i.e., people can go inside), the tallest monument (not the tallest structure) in the entire Western Hemisphere and the world’s tallest arch.
- Its supports go 60 feet underground.
- When the wind blows, the Arch sways.
- U.S. Presidents are forbidden from traveling to the top of the Arch by order of the Secret Service.
- The legs of the Arch were built first, then slowly approached each other to meet in the middle. If the calculations had been off, the arch shape would have failed!
Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo)
§10.240. “The Gateway Arch” in St. Louis is hereby selected for and shall be known as the official state monument. (S.B. 72)
approved 13 July 2021
effective 28 August 2021
Click on an image below to enlarge and read a caption. This will open a new window in the Missouri State Symbols Flickr album.
Gateway Arch National Park official website: https://www.nps.gov/jeff/index.htm.
Harris, NiNi. Historic Photos of the Gateway Arch. Nashville: Turner, 2009.
Merkel, Jim. The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, the Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch. St. Louis: Reedy Press, 2018.
Moore, Robert J. The Gateway Arch: An Architectural Dream. St. Louis: Jefferson National Parks Association, 2010.
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