Gateway Arch



The St. Louis Arch

When you approach the city of St. Louis and get your very first glimpse of the downtown skyline, the first thing to catch your eye is the spectacular sweeping lines of the Gateway Arch. Poised like a giant steel-blue rainbow, it perfectly frames the tall downtown buildings that share the skyline. On most days when the sun is out, the edge of its peak catches the sun and it shines like a star. On other days, depending on the light, it can look like it’s made of cool granite stone or a prism of glass reflecting the clouds around it.



The Arch is an architectural marvel – 900 tons of stainless steel sections assembled and completed in 1965 as a symbol to honor exploration, and to commemorate the spirit of pioneers as they blazed trails to the west. About 4 million people a year come to see the Gateway Arch and behold its towering beauty and simple elegance, and to learn about how St. Louis was the starting point to push into the great frontier out west.

The St. Louis Arch

The Gateway Arch sits on what is called the Gateway Arch National Park (formerly the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial), a 100-acre national park with large fields, bikeways and pathways, reflecting pools and gardens. On the Arch Grounds you’ll also find the Museum at the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse where the historical Dred Scott trials began.


Lewis and Clark statue

In 1803, the United States territory did not extend past the Mississippi River until Thomas Jefferson oversaw the acquisition of an enormous amount of land (almost one million square miles) known as the Louisiana Purchase. He then commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to set forth from St. Louis and head west into the wild unknown. They were instructed to explore and map out a route to the farthest western point, establish trade with tribes of Native Americans and study plant and animal life along the way.


Photo: Missouri State Archives

Yes, the Arch is tall. It happens to be the tallest man-made national monument in the United States. In fact, it’s the tallest arch in the world, standing at an impressive 630 feet tall. Travel to the top inside the Arch and experience breathtaking views that let you see up to 30 miles away on a clear day – with the winding Mississippi River on one side and downtown St. Louis on the other.

The St. Louis Arch under construction


The St. Louis Arch grounds

Massive renovations to the Arch Grounds began in the summer of 2014 and were completed in July 2018. The $350 million makeover puts this destination as one of the most anticipated “must see” attractions in the Midwest and beyond. The riverfront area was reconstructed for easier access between the Arch and the riverboats for both pedestrians and cyclists. The park was extended over the highway so that you can walk easily from the Arch to the Old Courthouse. In July of 2018, the new Museum at the Gateway Arch opened and features interactive exhibits telling stories about the colonial 1600s through present day.

Go West, young man, go West
and grow up with the country.

– Horace Greeley



The brand new Arch Grounds is also the site for Fair Saint Louis – the largest annual festival in the city that is free to the public and runs for several days around the 4th of July. The Independence Day celebrations are a spectacular favorite - drawing thousands of people from miles around to enjoy great music, shows, food and a nationally renowned fireworks display.

The St. Louis Arch with fireworks


The St. Louis Arch with flower blossoms

After the Independence Day celebrations are over, there are plenty of events, activities and festivals going on under the Arch throughout the summer. The new Arch Grounds is a perfect place to start for your own exploration of St. Louis and other attractions throughout the city.