On Thursday, we decided to take the boys to downtown St. Louis to see the Mississippi River and the Gateway Arch. We actually crossed over into Illinois so the boys could catch a good glimpse of the river and all of the barges and boats. We plan on reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer to them next, so we thought this might make the story a little more interesting, to see the actual river the story is based upon. We made our way back over the river and over to the Gateway Arch.
First, we should start with a little background on the arch.
The Arch was built as a monument to westward expansion in the USA. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri, the 630-foot tall stainless steel arch rises above the city skyline. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial consists of the Gateway Arch, the Museum of Westward Expansion, and St. Louis' Old Courthouse.
There was a nationwide competition in 1947-1948 to design a monument in St. Louis honoring western pioneers. The architect Eero Saarinen (August 20, 1910 - September 1, 1961) won the contest with his sleek arch.
Construction of the arch began on February 12, 1963, and was finished on October 28, 1965. It was opened to the public on July 24, 1967. (after one of the trams was completed). It cost about 13 million dollars to build. The two bases are equilateral triangles (triangles with three 54 foot-long sides). At the top of the arch, the triangle is only 17 feet long on each side. Visitors enter the arch from an underground visitors center and can travel to the observation deck at the top in a 40-passenger tram that runs inside the arch.
Let me pause here to say there was no way I was about to travel 630 feet into the air crammed into a tram with 4 other people. No thanks, I can appreciate the arch from the ground!
The arch has 60-foot deep foundations. The arch is very stable and was built to withstand high winds and earthquakes. The structure sways about one inch in a 20 mph wind; it is designed to sway up to 18 inches in 150 mile per hour winds. It is really quite amazing to look up at it from the ground and imagine someone building this structure. John and I had visited this before back in May 2002 but this was the first time we've been since having the boys and it was really fun!
And here is my vain attempt to take some visually intriguing angles of the arch.
We also drove past Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals. The 2009 All Star Game will be at this stadium on Tuesday so preparations were in full swing downtown.
Up next is my final installment of our adventures in St. Louis, but seeing how we will be making the 12 hour trip back home in about 7 hours, my guess is it will be a few days before I get to that post!