Guess which monument is the tallest in the United States. Is it the Washington Monument, the Gateway Arch, or the Statue of Liberty? At 630 feet, the Gateway Arch is definitely the tallest. It is 75 feet taller than the Washington Monument and over twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty.
The Gateway Arch is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which consists of the arch, the Museum of Westward Expansion, and the St. Louis Old Courthouse. The arch stands as the "Gateway to the West," and commemorates the Louisiana Purchase and the westward expansion of the United States in the 19th century.
The Gateway Arch, which was designed by architect Eero Saarinen, is an amazing architectural and engineering achievement. This stainless steel, freestanding arch looks taller than it is wide, but it is exactly 630 feet by 630 feet. It was designed to sway up to 18 inches and can withstand earthquakes and high winds. Also, inside the arch is a one-of-a-kind tram system that takes visitors to the top of the arch for a panoramic view of St. Louis.
To really appreciate the magnitude of this structural achievement, consider this: The plans for the monument called for the two sides of the arch to be built so they would meet at the top, where the last piece would be put into place. For this to happen, the engineers had to be accurate to within 1/64 inch. Just imagine all the money and effort that would have been wasted if the planners and builders had made the smallest mistake.
The Gateway Arch was completed on October 28, 1965. Unfortunately, Eero Saarinen didn't live to see his famous monument built. He died in 1961, a year before construction of the arch began. Mr. Saarinen would surely be pleased to know that his goal of creating a landmark monument of lasting significance was achieved. Not only does the Gateway Arch commemorate the efforts of America's pioneers, but it's also a testimony to Eero Saarinen's vision and the dedication and determination of those who helped to build it.