The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, holds the record as the world’s tallest monument, having taken the title away from the 555-foot Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. The 630-foot Arch stands impressively on the west bank, or the Missouri side, of the Mississippi River on a site that in 1764 held a small trading post. Through this trading post passed explorers, fur traders, miners, soldiers, and pioneers as they made their way west.
Since St. Louis was called the “Gateway to the West,” the Arch was named the Gateway Arch. It is dedicated to the spirit of the pioneers who passed that way and settled the American West after the Louisiana Purchase. This purchase of land from France by President Thomas Jefferson doubled the size of the United States.
The skin, or surface, of the Arch is covered much like an airplane, with steel stretched over its frame. Each leg of the arch is triangular in shape, starting at 54 feet on each side of the base and narrowing to 17 feet at the top of the Arch.
Visitors can travel inside the leg to the top of the Arch in basketlike trains, much like the baskets of a ferris wheel, or they can climb up the 1,076 steps to the Observation Deck. There, they will be standing atop 17,246 pounds of steel and concrete!
The strength of the Arch is so great that even in a 150-mile-per-hour wind, the Arch would sway only 18 inches!