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Jun 22

Gateway Arch: The Gateway to the West

Old Court House and ArchLike most people when I think of Saint Louis one image comes to mind and that is the Gateway Arch which is part of the National Expansion Memorial located on the river banks of the Mississippi.  The Gateway Arch is just one of those iconic places in the United States and a must see attraction in Saint Louis.   Museum of Westward ExpansionThe Gateway arch is the tallest man-made monument in the United States at 630 feet tall and caps the Saint Louis skyline and symbolizes the Corps of Discovery journey west which opened the land up for expansion.  The arch makes up just part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park which also includes a tram ride to the top, the Museum of Westward Expansion, The Old Courthouse, and a park area along the banks of the Mississippi River.  We recommend at least an hour if you are not taking the tram ride up but just seeing the museum and close to two or more if you plan on watching one of the movies they show, the tram to the top, and taking the time to walk around the park and see the Old Courthouse where Dred Scot sued for his freedom.Gateway ArchAt the base of the Arch is the visitor center and the wonderful Museum of Westward Expansion which is a tribute and a history lesson to those that made the great migration west during the 19th century.  The museum starts with Jefferson and his purchase of the Louisiana Territory with a detailed account on the Lewis and Clark expedition.  The museum then chronicles the expansion west with many small displays of tools, transportation, animals, and other relics of that time. A very interesting display at the Museum of Westward Expansion was their Peace Medal display which showed the different types of medals given out to the Native Americans starting in the late 1700s and ending with President Andrew Johnson.Peace MedalOver the next few years the Museum of Westward Expansion along with Old Courthouse will get some needed updating as part of the multi-million dollar plan to improve the Saint Louis riverfront and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park.  The changes are slated to debut in 2015. Having been to the Gateway Arch several times throughout my life it will be sad to see the changes, but at the same time exciting to see what they have in store for the area.StagecoachA few things you should know before visiting the Gateway Arch: all visitors to the Gateway Arch visitor center/Museum of Westward Expansion will have to pass through a security checkpoint, the tram to the top of the arch is small and takes about 4 minutes to get to the top, the windows at the top are small so do not expect sweeping views of the area, and it will get crowded so try to plan to go when they first open up or late afternoon when the crowds tend to be less.Gateway Arch MuseumThe Gateway Arch is a must see if visiting the Saint Louis area and one of those things that if you go to Saint Louis people will ask you about.  We recommend going especially if you are heading on a westward trip it will definitely set the mood of being an explorer.  So you are not disappointed just keep in prospective that going to the top of the arch is more about the experience of being in it then what you can see out of it.Jefferson National Expansion Memorial signGateway Arch
Located at 11 N. Fourth Street, Saint Louis, MO
Hours of Operation: From Memorial Day through Labor Day 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. the rest of year it is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  The tram ride to the top starts about an hour after opening and closes about an hour before their doors shut
Cost as of this Posting: Free to enter the Arch and Museum a $10 for Adults 16 and up to ride to the top $5 for children 3 to 15.
For more information visit their website at http://www.nps.gov/jeff/planyourvisit/gateway-arch.htm

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