Stainless-steel marvel

In 1935, 40 city blocks were cleared on the St. Louis riverfront to make room for a memorial to commemorate Westward expansion. 

Designing the Arch

"The arch's design initially drew criticism, but before long the city of St. Louis embraced it."

(Historian Bob Moore discusses the Arch)

Arch facts

Tallest U.S. monument (630 ft.)

6,400 visitors daily

Can sway 18 inches in 150 mph winds

Tram ride takes 4 minutes up and 3 minutes down

Distance across its base is same as its height

After a nation-wide competition, Finnish architect Eero Saarinen's design was chosen for the monument.  Saarinen's unique design for the Arch was based on a catenary curve, the form that a chain takes when suspended freely between two points. 

Construction began in June of 1962 when the concrete foundation for the Arch was poured. 

On October 28 1965, three years and almost $13 million later, the final section was lifted into place and the stainless-steel-faced Arch was complete. 

Pierluigi Serraino.
Köln ; London : Taschen, 2009.
Eero Saarinen was one of the 20th century's great visionaries, both in the fields of furniture design and in architecture. Marrying curves and dynamic forms with a Modernist aesthetic, he brought a whole new dimension to architecture.
Eero Saarinen : buildings from the Balthazar Korab archive
edited by David G. De Long and C. Ford Peatross.
New York : W. W. Norton ; [Washington, D.C.] : In association with the Library of Congress, c2008.
Eero Saarinen and Balthazar Korab constitute a unique team in the history of architecture: Saarinen, the mid-twentieth-century architect who challenged the architectural conventions of his time; and Korab, an architect in Saarinen's office whose perceptive photographs reveal the brilliance of Saarinen's work.This visual sourcebook illustrates nineteen Saarinen commissions in photographs drawn from Korab's archive, providing multiple views of the buildings themselves and some views of their construction and of architectural models that were critical to their design. Images of Saarinen's office and home provide personal ambience, and an introductory essay positions Saarinen's work within the broader context of his time.Seen in detail, such earlier works as the General Motors Technical Center (1948-56) or the Miller house (1953-57) show departures from orthodox modernism; Saarinen's assured handling of new materials and new building functions impart lasting value to his career, as seen in the Trans World Airlines Terminal (1956-62) and Dulles International Airport (1958-63), which have become iconic images.
Eero Saarinen : shaping the future
edited by Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen and Donald Albrecht ; with essays by Donald Albrecht ... [et al.].
New Haven : Yale University Press ; New York : In association with The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York ; Helsinki : The Museum of Finnish Architecture ; Washington, D.C. : The National Building Museum ; New Haven : Yale University School of Architecture, c2006.
  1. Published in conjunction with an exhibition held in the Helsinki kunsthalle and other venues in Europe and the U.S. 2006-2010.
  2. Includes bibliographical references and index.
Eero Saarinen : 1910-1961 : a structural expressionist
Pierluigi Serraino.
Koln ; Los Angeles : Taschen, c2005.
Includes bibliographical references.

The Gateway Arch opened to the public in 1967 when the passenger transit system was in working order.

Today, more than 40 years after its completion, visitors to the Gateway Arch can ride the Tram to the top for spectacular views of the city of St. Louis. 

The Museum of Westward Expansion, located below the arch, features exhibits on the American Indians and 19th century pioneers who shaped the American West.  Also, two movie theaters in the museum show films on the construction of the arch and on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The Gateway Arch, rising above the St. Louis skyline and Mississipi River bank beckons visitors and city residents year-round.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff