The Gateway Arch: The Representation Of Westward Expansion

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This 630-foot monument to one of the founding fathers is a stunning sight. The Gateway Arch is what I’m talking about. The Gateway Arch is an arch in St Louis Missouri, right next to the Missipissi river. The Gateway Arch intrigues visitors through its impressive construction process, its representation of westward expansion, and it’s still grand appearance.

The Building of the Arch

The building of the arch was a long and tedious process to build. It all started in 1934 when St Louis local Luther Ely Smith thought of the idea to honor Thomas Jefferson. On the website, states that “The JNEMA planned to carry out Smith’s vision with a public memorial that would highlight the accomplishments of early westward pioneers”. JNEMA stands for “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association”.They then got the funding from the city, and they assembled a panel of judges. These judges would be the deciding factor for who won the contest. They posted the contest and a total of 173 people joined the competition, including a father and a son. The father Eliel Saarinen, was a respected architect, and the son Eero Saarinen, an uprising architect ( Eliel Saarinen ended up getting a call congratulating on winning. His son starting having a large celebration for his father. They then got a surprise call from the embarrassed judges who called the wrong person and meant to send it to his son, Eero Saarinen with his stunning arch ( They started by breaking ground in 1959, but didn’t start building until 1963 ( They weren’t made in St Louis, but actually all the way in Pennsylvania and were shipped by trains. They placed the first one down and just kept going. After that, they had some problems once they reached the point that cranes couldn’t reach, but they attached the cranes to the side of both legs. It was actually very dangerous to work because there were no safety harnesses at all, and no nets to fall into. They reached piece number 142 in October of 1965. There was a crowd of at least 5,000. They watched as they tried to cool off the metal legs so they didn’t expand (InterestingAmerica). They safely attached piece 142 and finished off the arch. The elevator was designed by Dick Bowser and was actually designed in a stunning two weeks. Did you know that if they had made the arch 1/64th of a inch different, they not of been able to fit together?

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St Louis was very important in the westward expansion of the USA and in many other things. In the 1800s, St Louis was a French town. When the USA wanted to buy the territory from France, they met and bought it. I mention this because who was going to explore this land? Louis and Clark obviously! These two were St Louis natives and an obvious choice for exploration. Finally, in 1804 Louis and Clark set off, and they earned a lot of knowledge of their new territory ( They got back to St Louis in 1806, and was celebrated for their courageous and brave acts. One thing that you do at the top the arch is get married, and also you can get engaged. Another thing happens there is that celebrities and VIPs go up. In the 1960s Johnny Carson frequently went to the top (InterestingAmerica). The only president to go up was Dwight D Eisenhower, and he was the person who allowed construction of the arch (InterestingAmerica). The arch is actually the second tallest freestanding monument, just after the Eiffel tower. Henry Adams mentioned on says “All experience is an arch, to build upon”.

Opening and It Today

Even though it was built in 1965, it didn’t open until 1967, and still only had the north tram running. There are reports that the arch only cost 15 million dollars. In 1973, a woman by the name of Nikki Caplin, fly a hot air balloon through the two legs of the arch. In 1980 Keneth Swyers attempted to land on top the arch and then paraglide off. Sadly, he fell to his death when the winds got too strong ( Recently, there has been massive renovations. They opened again with a massive underground museum, a large gift shop, and a food court (InterestingAmerica). When they added all this, they also added the Old Courthouse. Old Courthouse was the site of the Dred Scott Case, where a slave, Dred Scott, sued his owner (InterestingAmerica). I think this quote from Susan Saarinen, daughter of Eero Saarinen, found on, sums the arch up pretty well “Neat”.


The Gateway Arch catch’s the visitors through its impressive building process, its representation of westward expansion, and it’s still stunning appearance. In building, no one died on the site. Also, the arch was actually made to be as wide as tall. Doesn’t it sound like a stunning sight for the founding fathers?


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