|Gateway Arch in St. Louis|
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, dominates the skyline. You can see it from everywhere and as we approached it from the airport, I got all goose-bumpy thinking about going up inside, with my main question being – “Exactly HOW does the elevator make the curve?”
Hmmm . . . more about that technological marvel later on . . .
The more pressing question for us was where to park? The Mississippi River had overflowed its banks and some of the parking garages near the Gateway Arch were inaccessible. Fortunately, hubby found a spot and we ambled over.
The space around the Gateway Arch is a beautiful park area with a pond and plenty of lawn for kids to stretch their legs. Normally, there are also river boats moored beside the Arch that take you on hour-long cruises of the Mississippi, but again, with the swollen river, I had to quickly scrap that plan.
|The Mississippi should be BEYOND the building|
You can enter the Gateway Arch (which is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) from either end and as you get closer to the Arch, you see that while exterior looks like concrete, it’s actually covered with stainless steel.
Beneath the Gateway Arch (literally underground) are souvenir shops, an IMAX movie theater, and the Museum of Westward Expansion. With some time to kill before our assigned trip to the top of the Arch, we wandered over.
|A diorama of a sod house|
It’s kind of an interesting design for a museum. When you enter, you’re in a small room shaped like a semi-circle. Then, as you go further into the museum, the semi-circle expands outward following the immigration west. By the time you’re at the outer ring, you’re looking at old jalopies meant to symbolize the migration during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
My guys loved the dioramas of the cowboy era, while I enjoyed the Lewis and Clark timeline traced on the back wall.
By the time we finished (about an hour later), it was time for our trip to the top of the Gateway Arch.
|Entrance to the pod|
Remember how I was wondering how you get to the top?
You basically get into this space-like pod (I can’t think of a better word) that holds at most four people (or five very small ones) . . . in VERY tight quarters. We got in, the doors closed, and then your pod goes to the top – up a little, then clunk! over a little – as it creeps its way along a curved path.
Finally, it stops. The doors open and you walk up a slanted ramp (a steeply slanted/arched ramp to the top). My guys scampered ahead and all I could think as I gripped the handrail to the top was “Holy cow, this does not LOOK right, this does not FEEL right . . . and OMG – what if the wind blows us over?”
Okay, the last thought was a little ridiculous – the Gateway Arch is an engineering marvel made of steel – but still . . . it feels awfully fragile when you’re up there.
|Busch Stadium from the Gateway Arch.|
The views are great, but I was sooooo happy to get back into my little pod and make it back down.
|Down the slanted ramp|
Despite my claustrophobic ravings, I can’t say enough how unique this experience was for my guys. The Gateway Arch is such an iconic part of the American landscape and such a symbol that I find it amazing that it was left off the second edition of Frommer’s 500 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up. I’m not sure what their reasoning was, but ignore them and go anyway if you’re in the St. Louis area.
Thirty-seven places visited, 463 to go!