The Road to Westward Expansion
On Day #24 of our 30-day, 9376 mile, road trip to see more of America we visited the Gateway Arch National Park in Saint Louis Missouri and the Gateway Geyser in East St. Louis Illinois.
Originally named the “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial” after President Thomas Jefferson and his. 1803 acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase from France which doubled the size of the United States, the name never caught on with the millions of people that visit the Gateway Arch. So the park was renamed as the “Gateway Arch National Park” in February 2018. The Gateway Arch reflects St. Louis' role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century. The park is also a memorial to Thomas Jefferson's role in opening the West, to the pioneers who helped shape its history and to Dred Scott who sued for his freedom in the Old Courthouse.
The entire Park comprises approximately 92 acres. This includes the Gateway Arch and grounds (about 62 acres), plus another ~30 acres encompassing the Old Courthouse, Luther Ely Smith Square and many of the surrounding streets (which are managed as easements). The Gateway Arch structure and the surrounding landscape were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The Arch itself is 630 feet tall (approximately 63 stories) and has 630 feet between its two legs at ground level. Construction of the Arch began on 12 February 1963 and was completed on 28 October 1965. The north tram was opened to the public on 24 July 1967 and the south tram began operations on 19 March 1968.
Eero Saarinen, the architect who designed the Gateway Arch in 1947, envisioned twin memorials, one on each side of the river. While the Gateway Arch was built in Missouri, the Arch’s Illinois counterpart was never built due to lack of funding. Instead, directly cross the river from the Gateway Arch National Park, lies the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park. Located in East Saint Louis Illinois this park surrounds the Gateway Geyser, the tallest water fountain in the United States and third tallest in the world. The Gateway Geyser began operating on 27 May 1995 and is powered by three 800-horsepower pumps which can blast 7,500 gallons of water per minute straight up at a rate of 250 feet per second. When the wind is less than 4 mph the Gateway Geyser can reach a maximum height of 630 feet, the exact height of the Gateway Arch. From May through September the fountain operates daily for 10 minutes at noon.
In addition to the Geyser the park also houses the Mississippi River Overlook (completed in the spring of 2009), which provides spectacular views of both the Gateway Arch and Gateway Geyser. The tiered-ramp structure is approximately 43 feet tall and features illuminated railings so that visitors can enjoy the spectacular views both day and night. The Overlook is actually one of the best places to see the Gateway Arch since it allows you to see the entire Arch surrounded by the city of Saint Louis. No matter the time of day, or the weather, the park’s view of the river is constantly viewed by at least one occupant, a bronze statue of Malcolm W. Martin himself, watching the Mississippi River roll by.
As you can see from the photos below – the Gateway Arch and Martin Memorial Park are stunning sights – especially if you are lucky enough to visit on a sunny day when there are few other people in the parks. (click on any photo to start the slideshow):
If you want to learn more about the Gateway Arch and the Gateway Geyser here are a couple of links to check out:
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