St. Louis Arch: Gateway to the West

St.Louis this weekend had nothing on Seattle as far as rain goes! It has poured rain in buckets most of the time I was there. But I managed to visit the famous St. Louis Arch.

The Arch is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, commemorating the Lewis and Clark expedition. It was completed in October 1965, and at 630 feet, it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. Visitors can ride a “pod”-like tram (five seats, very cozy!) to the top and view the city on one side and the Mississippi River on the other. The tram takes one million visitors to the top annually.

In 1947 a competition challenged architects to design a memorial that would symbolize the dramatic story of westward expansion. Eero Saarinen‘s entry was the winner. It wasn’t built until the early 1960s and took two years. Workers struggled against high winds, biting cold and searing hear, along with dizzying heights and uneven surfaces. Saarinen died while undergoing an operation for a brain tumor at the age of 51 in 1961, before the Arch was finished. His other work includes the TWA terminal at JFK Airport, NYC, and Dulles airportWashington, D.C., and the General Motors Technical Center in Michigan.

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