The famous architect Eero Saarinen was hired to build a part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial near the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in St. Louis MO.
Saarinen considered and rejected a monument, an obelisk and other constructions; he settled on a simple arch. But what is simple to the architect may not be so simple to the engineer.
If you look straight ahead in the image above, you can see the entrance to the Arch. Just inside, there is a security check that is almost identical to what you go through at an airport. Once inside, you can view a movie that shows how it was built. I won't go into all the details, but it's an engineering marvel.
The construction began in 1963 and took two and one-half years. It was opened to the public in July, 1967.
The planners estimated that 13 men would lose their lives during construction. Amazingly, even though the workers didn't use safety harnesses, and the hard hats were the old-fashioned type, no lives were lost.
The Gateway Arch is 630 feet high, and seems like it touches the sky. It's also 630 feet across at its base. You can find out more about this fascinating icon at visityourarch.org.
The view from the top: Busch Stadium (above) and the surrounding area can be seen from the observation deck.
Because the Arch is curved, a standard elevator wouldn't be possible. To get to the top, you have to ride a contraption which is part train car, part elevator and part amusement park ride -- they call it a tram. It's too weird to describe, and all I can say is don't take it if you're claustrophobic. If you don't mind the ride, however, the view is great. I'd love to return at night.