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Spotlight on St. Louis, Missouri: St. Louis Arch
Part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the St. Louis Arch is located directly over the Museum of Westward Expansion in downtown St. Louis. Also called the Gateway Arch, it was built to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase and pay tribute to President Jefferson, the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and others that contributed to western exploration. At 630 feet tall, the arch is twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty. It has a base that is 630 feet wide, and even with its weight of 43,000 tons the structure still moves. Designed to withstand an earthquake, it will sway up to an inch in winds of 20 mph and has the capacity to roll up to 18 inches in a 150 mph wind. The catenary arch is made of inverted steel. It was designed by Eero Saarinen and engineered by Hannskarl Bandel in 1947, opened to the public on June 10, 1967 and designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark on May 28, 1987. In 2002, Randy Burkett, a St. Louis based lighting designer, created the lighting system that bathes the arch in white light every evening between 10:00 PM and 1:00 AM. Photo credit: James Hills of Mantripping
Visitors can reach the top of the St. Louis Arch via either its 12 passenger elevator, two sets of 1,076 steps or one of the 40 passenger trams located on each leg. Once at the top, the 32 windows of the arched observation area or the 160 person observation deck provide a view that extends for 30 miles on a clear day, and includes the Mississippi River, the city of St. Louis and the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. At the arch base, the Museum of Westward Expansion features complimentary exhibits on the history of St. Louis and the American west, including biographical examinations of Lewis and Clark, cowboys and life-size models of tipis and covered wagons.