Gateway Arch ST.Louis Missouri – The Tallest Stainless Steel Monument

Cities of Creative Design | | May 20, 2011 at 4:56 am


Whenever we go to any place, it is the surroundings and the ambience that we bring back with us. Often all that we remember is some big structure and something spectacularly singular that we treasure. The Gateway Arch at St.Louis Misssouri is one such monument that surely blows out our mind. At 192m it is today the tallest monument made by man in the United States of America. Designed on a flattened centenary arch the Gateway Arch is located on the banks of the River Missisipi. Eero Saarinen a Finnish American designer designed this along with Hannskarl Bandel a structural engineer in the year 1947. The Arch took around two years to construct from 1963 to 1965. It cost around US$13million at that time to construct.

Purely the idea of Luther Ely smith, the civic leader, the idea was to create a memorial for the public to respect the men who helped in the expansion of the U.S. This memorial had the scope of providing jobs to the jobless during the Depression then. After a lot of discussions and decision, the plan finally went underway. The Mississippi River had an important role to play in the history of St.Louis. So the Arch had to be built near the river. Since there was a railway track there, plans to hide the track under a tunnel came forth. Finally the decision went forward and today there is a long tunnel on the railroad and a staircase connects the levee to the Arch. Many buildings were broken and only the Old Rock House and the Old Cathedral were retained.

The Gateway Arch today is a great piece of architecture with the interiors made of carbon steel, and stainless steel covering the outer side. The filling is concrete and the top is tapering like a triangle. This memorial today surpasses the entire spiritual as well as the aesthetic values and symbolizes the culture of America and its civilization. Today at 192m and with the same width it is the tallest memorial in the U.S. and the tallest monument made of stainless steel in the whole world. The legs of the arch narrow from a measurement of 54ft at the base to 17 feet at the top. The arch is hollow within and accommodates a tram system that can help visitors reach a deck for observing from the top. There were times such as in 1970 when the arch just shrunk 7.6cm.

The structure of the arch is such that such contraction and expansion wouldn’t spoil its construction. The arch is protected against earthquakes and can sway up to 23cm during winds up to 150miles per hour. The arch has lights which are switched on from 10 pomp to 1 a.m by a system of floodlights.

Thus this arch which soars towards a better tomorrow with the richness of the heritage of today symbolizes that the country should also remain thus. Today visitors come here to the 70,000 square feet visitors centre located directly under the arch. Ramps connect the centre to the arch. It has offices, waiting areas, mechanical rooms, waiting places for the trams, the Museum of Westward Expansion. Visitors come here and enjoy the films about the arch that is displayed in the two theatres the oldest of which started in 1972. The Odyssey Theatre is the newer one which was built in the year 1990.

The observation deck on the top is a place where the passengers from the tram come out and see the view from the top. With 32 windows each around 7 by 27 inches give a wonderful view of the River Missisipi and Illinois and St.Louis city. One can come here by the emergency stairs (1076) or by the elevator up to 91 m high or the tram.

The tram is a chain of compartments. They are egg shaped with a window on the doors. 40 people can sit in one tram. Together 2 trams or 80 people can go. The cars look like Ferris wheel cars as they go up and down.

Thus the Gateway Arch St.Louis, a symbol of the spirit of the Americans has become an iconic representation of the culture here. It symbolizes expansion and advancement. Symbolizing Missouri State, today this stands as testimony to a history of the past and the progress of the present.

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