Gabriela Marion

Written by Gabriela Marion

Modified & Updated: 21 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


The St. Louis Gateway Arch is not just an iconic national monument, but a symbol of American innovation and engineering prowess. Standing proudly on the banks of the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri, this architectural marvel attracts millions of visitors each year. Designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and completed in 1965, it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States, soaring 630 feet into the sky.

Aside from its impressive height, the St. Louis Gateway Arch has many astonishing facts and features that make it a must-visit landmark. From its unique construction techniques to remarkable trivia about its history, there is much to uncover about this monumental structure. In this article, we will delve into 16 astonishing facts about the St. Louis Gateway Arch that will leave you even more intrigued by this remarkable piece of architecture.

Key Takeaways:

  • The St. Louis Gateway Arch is a towering symbol of American expansion and ingenuity, offering breathtaking panoramic views and a unique tram system for visitors to explore.
  • With its stunning stainless steel exterior and innovative design, the Gateway Arch stands as a testament to architectural excellence and engineering ingenuity, attracting millions of tourists from around the world.
Table of Contents

Monumental Design and Construction

The St. Louis Gateway Arch stands proudly as the tallest national monument in the United States, soaring to a height of 630 feet. It was designed by architect Eero Saarinen and construction began in 1963, taking nearly three years to complete.

Symbolizing the Gateway to the West

The Gateway Arch represents the historic role of St. Louis as the gateway to the western frontier. It was built as a monument to honor the pioneers who expanded the boundaries of the United States.

A Curved Steel Marvel

The arch’s impressive stainless steel exterior is made up of over 142 stainless steel triangles, each weighing between 2.5 and 5 tons. These triangles were meticulously curved and assembled to create the arch’s unique shape.

A Mechanical Marvel

The Gateway Arch has a unique tram system that takes visitors to the top. The system consists of small passenger capsules that rotate throughout the journey to keep passengers upright, regardless of the arch’s curve.

Panoramic Views

From the observation deck at the top of the arch, visitors can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of St. Louis and the Mississippi River. On a clear day, you can see up to 30 miles in any direction.

Hard-to-Reach Cleaning

Due to its height and unique shape, cleaning the exterior of the Gateway Arch is no easy feat. It requires specially trained technicians who rappel down the sides of the arch to clean the stainless steel panels.

A Historic Landmark

The St. Louis Gateway Arch was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987, recognizing its importance as a symbol of American expansion and ingenuity.

A Symbol of Architectural Excellence

Eero Saarinen’s design for the Gateway Arch has been widely celebrated and is considered a masterpiece of modern architecture. Its simple yet elegant form has inspired many architects around the world.

A Photogenic Marvel

The St. Louis Gateway Arch has become a popular subject for photographers, both amateur and professional. Its sleek and symmetrical design lends itself to stunning photographs from every angle.

A Magnificent Lighting Display

At night, the Gateway Arch is illuminated with a mesmerizing lighting display. The changing colors create a vibrant and captivating sight for visitors and passersby.

The Arch is Not Solid

Contrary to popular belief, the Gateway Arch is not a solid structure. The interior consists of a unique tram system, which takes visitors to the observation deck at the top of the arch.

A Magnet for Tourists

The St. Louis Gateway Arch attracts millions of visitors each year. Its striking presence, historical significance, and stunning views make it a must-visit destination for tourists from around the world.

International Recognition

The Gateway Arch’s architectural significance has garnered international recognition. In 2018, it was awarded the “Best Iconic American Architecture” distinction by the prestigious American Institute of Architects.

The Equinox Effect

During the equinoxes in spring and fall, the sun aligns perfectly with the base of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, creating a breathtaking visual spectacle that attracts photographers and nature enthusiasts.

A Movie Star

The Gateway Arch has served as a backdrop for numerous movies and television shows. Its distinctive shape and historical significance make it a popular choice for filmmakers looking for an iconic location.

An Engineering Feat

The construction of the Gateway Arch required innovative engineering techniques. To withstand high winds, the arch is built with a foundation that allows it to sway up to 18 inches without causing any structural damage.

The St. Louis Gateway Arch is truly a marvel of architecture, engineering, and historical significance. These 16 astonishing facts only scratch the surface of its importance and allure. Whether you’re a history buff, architecture enthusiast, or simply looking for a stunning view, the Gateway Arch is a must-visit destination that promises an unforgettable experience.


In conclusion, the St. Louis Gateway Arch is a truly remarkable architectural masterpiece and a symbol of American innovation and ingenuity. Standing at a height of 630 feet, it is the tallest arch monument in the world and attracts millions of visitors each year. From its unique design to its fascinating history and breathtaking views, the Gateway Arch offers a one-of-a-kind experience for tourists and locals alike. Whether you’re interested in learning about its construction, exploring its museum and visitor center, or taking a thrilling tram ride to the top, there is something for everyone to enjoy at this iconic landmark. As you plan your next trip to St. Louis, be sure to include a visit to the Gateway Arch – an awe-inspiring destination that captivates the senses and leaves a lasting impression.


1. How tall is the St. Louis Gateway Arch?
The Gateway Arch stands at a height of 630 feet, making it the tallest arch monument in the world.

2. How was the Gateway Arch constructed?
The arch was built using a unique stainless steel exterior and a triangular truss system for structural support. It took several years of careful planning and precise engineering to ensure its stability.

3. Can you go inside the Gateway Arch?
Yes, visitors can enter the Gateway Arch and explore its museum and visitor center. There is also a tram that takes you to the top, where you can enjoy panoramic views of St. Louis.

4. Is there a fee to enter the Gateway Arch?
While entry to the park grounds is free, there is a fee to access the museum and visitor center, as well as to ride the tram to the top of the arch. Tickets can be purchased online or on-site.

5. Are there any restrictions for visiting the Gateway Arch?
For safety reasons, there are certain restrictions in place. Backpacks, large bags, and outside food and drinks are not allowed inside the Gateway Arch. Additionally, there are age and height restrictions for riding the tram to the top.

6. How long does it take to visit the Gateway Arch?
The duration of your visit to the Gateway Arch can vary depending on your interests. On average, visitors spend around 1-2 hours exploring the museum, taking the tram ride, and enjoying the views.

7. Can I take photos at the Gateway Arch?
Yes, photography is allowed both inside and outside the Gateway Arch. Be sure to capture the stunning views of the city from the top and document your visit to this iconic landmark.

The Gateway Arch's fascinating history and architectural wonder make it a must-see attraction. Visitors can explore more captivating facts about St. Louis, Missouri, home to this iconic monument. For those interested in breathtaking natural landscapes, discover the beauty and diversity of America's national parks scattered throughout the country.

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