Americas tallest monument till date is a gleaming arch of stainless steel that soars 192 meters above the banks of the Mississippi. It is the world’s tallest arch, the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, and Missouri’s tallest accessible building. Built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States, it is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and has become an internationally famous symbol of St. Louis.
The arch sits at the site of St. Louis’ founding on the west bank of the Mississippi River.
The Gateway Arch was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen in 1947; construction began on February 12, 1963, and was completed on October 28, 1965, for $13 million. The monument opened to the public on June 10, 1967.
In November 1944, Smith discussed with Newton Drury, the National Park Service Director, the design of the memorial, asserting that the memorial should be “transcending in spiritual and aesthetic values,” best represented by “one central feature: a single shaft, a building, an arch, or something else that would symbolize American culture and civilization.”
The idea of an architectural competition to determine the design of the memorial was favored at the JNEMA’s inaugural meeting. They planned to award cash for the best design. In January 1945, the JNEMA officially announced a two-stage design competition that would cost $225,000 to organize. Smith and the JNEMA struggled to raise the funds, garnering only a third of the required total by June 1945.
- There are 29,000 tons of concrete in the foundations of this arch and just under half that amount again packed between its steel walls.
- the stainless steel outer walls weigh 977 tons.
- the two stairways to the top each have 1,076 steps.