When you see pictures of St. Louis, there is always one landmark that stands above the others, the arch. The St. Louis
Arch, also known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, stands 630 feet in the air. That’s over twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty, which measures in at 305 feet. So, that means the arch is pretty high. An interesting side note, the arch is also 630 feet wide.
When you arrive at the arch, be prepared to go through a security check point. From there you continue on in order to purchase tickets for a ride to the top of the arch. While waiting for your tram ride, you can browse through the Museum of Westward Expansion or shop at either of the two gift shops.
When it’s time for departure, you will get in a small capsule, with five seats. When I say small, picture the inside of a dryer! Once seated inside, you are ready for a four minute trek to the top. As you go up, the capsule sways slightly as it straightens itself out in the curve of the arch leg. As you go up you will see stairs leading all the way to the top. Don’t get excited. Visitors are not allowed to use the stairs, which total 1,076. After reaching the top you will be in a small observation room with rectangular windows for viewing.
On one side of the arch you can see the Mississippi River and Illinois. On the other side you can see St. Louis, including Busch Stadium, the Edward Jones Dome, and the Old Courthouse. On a clear day you can see thirty miles in each direction! This is when you realize just how high you are. There is no time limit in the viewing area, as long as you’re out by closing time. So, enjoy the view as long as you want and take lots of pictures.
While you are in the viewing area have no fear. The arch has never fallen, and it is actually quite sturdy. It was designed to withstand hurricane force winds up to 150 mph. The arch is also designed to sway slightly with the wind. It sounds scary, but in order for the arch to sway 1 inch, there must be 50 mph winds. That’s pretty windy! Fortunately, on a normal day the arch does not sway. Once you are done in the viewing area you will take another tram down. The journey down is about a minute faster than the journey up.
After your trip to the top you can stick around for some souvenir shopping or keepsake photos. It is a wonderful journey that you are sure to enjoy.