An Arch Observation: The Gateway Arch Celebrates Its 46th Birthday

Rarely do modern stainless steel structures come to mind when thinking of national parks, but the famous Gateway Arch qualifies since it is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The iconic parabola celebrates its 46th birthday this year with a "Meet the Builders" event on Saturday, October 22 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Gateway Arch honors Thomas Jefferson and the city of St. Louis (the "Gateway City") for their roles in the U.S.'s westward expansion. At 630 feet tall, it is the nation's tallest monument and remains an architectural wonder. The builders, who were quite skilled for those times, will be on hand to recollect their experiences and share their own photos and memorabilia.

Like any proper birthday party, there will be cake while it lasts! The visitor center will also host a "construction zone" where kids can build arch models and participate in other activities. If you can't make it to this anniversary event, you can at least browse some historic photos of the arch (check out the one where a hot air balloon takes on immoveable steel).

Fun Facts:

  • The Arch is one of three structures that comprise the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the other two being the Museum of Westward Expansion and the city's Old Courthouse.
     
  • The Arch's foundations go down 60 feet, enough to withstand wind and earthquakes. It sways up to an inch 20 mph winds, and it is designed to sway up to 18 inches.
     
  • The designer of the arch was chosen by national competition, and the winner was Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen.
     
  • Saarinen died in 1961, a few months after site construction began. The arch was completed in 1965.
     
  • The total cost of the Arch was under $15 million.
     
  • The Arch weighs 17,246 tons.

Image: Gateway Arch. Source: NPS.gov