Standing 630 feet above the Mississippi River is St. Louis’ most iconic landmark: the Gateway Arch. The tallest national monument in America, it is a legendary engineering triumph, designed by Finnish-born architect Eero Saarinen. As part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Gateway Arch serves to commemorate the accomplishments of 19th-century westward pioneers and celebrate the city’s role as the ‘Gateway to the West.’
Plans for the Arch were first envisioned by civil leader Luther Ely Smith in 1933. Smith, who sought to revive the waterfront, raised his idea in a meeting with city leaders; by 1935, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association was created. The JNEMA planned to carry out Smith’s vision with a public memorial that would highlight the accomplishments of early westward pioneers, notably President Thomas Jefferson (for the Louisiana Purchase of 1803), Lewis and Clark, and other great builders of the nation that aided in the development of St. Louis.
From 1947-1948, the city held a nationwide competition to design the new monument. Finnish-born architect Eero Saarinen, who received his education in the US, won with his stainless steel arch. On June 23, 1959, St. Louis celebrated by breaking ground, and excavations continued until construction began in February of 1963. Saarinen, who was working at the time to perfect his design, unfortunately, did not live to see the construction of the arch; he died of a brain tumor in 1961.
On October 28, 1965, the massive stainless steel arch was completed, standing 630 feet above the river. In 1967, the internal tram system to take visitors to the top and the Visitor Center, which included exhibits, opened to the public. Less than a decade later, the Museum of Westward Expansion opened underneath the arch with exhibits on St. Louis’ role in the rapid westward expansion of the 19th century.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.