The number one thing I wanted to see in St. Louis was the arch. Surprisingly I had no idea that the Gateway Arch was a national park. Since it is a goal of ours to eventually visit them all you would have thought I knew, but honestly until we saw the sign I had no idea. The fact that it was a national park and that the museum underneath had been renovated a couple of years ago made the visit even more special.
The only time I had seen the arch was from the window of an airplane and I really didn’t understand the scale until we got close. The grounds themselves are very big, going right down to the Mississippi and the arch, well I took some pictures for scale so you can see for yourself.
Look for me at the bottom of that very last picture. It was just huge and quite beautiful close up. The grounds were also very nice, although I was bummed when I learned later that the only woman on the team had designed a sculpture garden as well which had never been made. I think they should go back and put it in!
The museum underneath was really beautiful as well and very well done. They included all of the different ethnic groups who lived in the area and also included some specific portraits of real people which I enjoyed.
One of my favorite parts of the museum was information about the design and building of the sculpture. There were several designs in contention and this could have looked quite different if another one had been chosen. The chosen design was by the person who designed the tulip chair as seen below. One really interesting feature is you can ride up inside the arch but it is 5 people in a VERY small pod and after looking at it I was definitely not interested. Lee thought about it but it cost extra and he ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it to him. The movie is also extra and although we didn’t pay to see that, my sister saw it and said it was excellent.
The history of the area was also interesting, including the fact that women could vote in the territory until they became part of the United States and then they lost that right. I wasn’t aware of that. The fact that the city was on a major river made it a valuable piece of territory and I didn’t realize the city was founded in 1764.
After seeing the arch we walked down to the water and there was a really beautiful wharf area. Helicopter rides were really popular and we saw several leaving and coming in during the time we were there. I also really liked the giant statue of the explorers on the wharf and definitely recommend walking down the steps to see that area as well
This was much more than I expected it to be and totally free. We have been privileged to visit 21 National Parks so far in our travels (This number includes Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, and Acadia but that was before we started the blog). If you would like to check out the others with blog posts the links are below.
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