Heading southwest from Chicago to St. Louis, we drove along stretches of the nostalgic Route 66. We passed through miles upon miles of cornfields and wind farms until we reached the Gateway City of St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis was often called the “Gateway to the West” during the pioneering era, when western bound settlers stocked up on provisions before departing for the frontier. In 1804, the famed explorers Lewis and Clark set off from St. Louis on their journey west to survey the Louisiana territory that President Thomas Jefferson purchased from France.
Architect Eero Saarinen designed the Gateway Arch to symbolize America’s expansion westward. The Arch holds many records: it is the tallest arch in the world, the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, and the tallest accessible building in Missouri. It opened to the public in 1967, with a tram ferrying passengers to the top of the 630 foot structure, where visitors can get a bird’s-eye-view of the city from one side of the arch and can even catch a glimpse of a St. Cardinals game at Busch Stadium below. The windows on the other side offer views of the great Mississippi River.
I love interesting architecture and this building ranks among some of the best in the world. Tickets are available online, but finding your way to the entrance is a bit complicated due to a major renovation project underway at the base of the monument. The visit to the arch and the trip to the top was definitely worth my time.