Gateway Arch National Park Facts! In this article, we provide you with 10 amazing facts about one of America’s most magnificent national parks.
More Than Just Parks is your one-stop-shop when it comes to learning everything you’ll need to know about America’s national parks. We’ve got expert guides, beautiful photos, helpful tips, breathtaking films and so much more.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind some of these natural wonders. Then I got to see them firsthand.
And now I’m sharing some of the incredible stories about these beautiful places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
More Than Just Parks takes a deeper dive with its national park facts. We’ve done our homework so that you’ll get more than you bargained for.
Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Table Of Contents: Gateway Arch National Park
Gateway Arch National Park Facts
- 1. Some Basic Facts About Gateway Arch National Park
- Gateway Arch National Park Facts
- Top 5 Gateway Arch National Park Facts
- 2. It’s The Smallest National Park
- 3. The Park Was Originally Inspired By Jefferson’s Vision
- 4. The Gateway Arch Represents The Jumping-Off Point Of America’s Age Of Westward Exploration
- 5. Gateway Arch Has A Visitor Center That Is Second To None
- 6. The Iconic Gateway Arch Is One Of The Most Recognizable & Beloved Landmarks In The U.S.
- Top 10 Gateway Arch National Park Facts
- 7. A Finnish-American Architect Won A Nationwide Competition To Design The Famous Arch
- 8. A 19th Century St. Louis Lawyer Who First Proposed A Riverfront Memorial For Thomas Jefferson Had A Park There Named In His Honor
- 9. There’s A Square That’s Also Named After The Same 19th Century Lawyer
- 10. The Arch Is The Tallest Artificial Monument In The U.S.
- 11. The Gateway Arch Weighs 43,220 Pounds
- Map Of Gateway Arch National Park
- Top 5 Gateway Arch National Park Facts
Facts About Gateway Arch National Park
1. Some Basic Facts About Gateway Arch National Park
If Missourians were asked to identify one symbol which represents their state, many would likely choose the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
This arch symbolizes Missouri’s important role in the Westward Expansion of the United States during the nineteenth century.
The park is 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.
- Location: Missouri
- Acreage: 91 acres
- Visitation: The number of visitors to the the Gateway Arch National Park increased to approximately 1.15 million in 2021.
- Highest Elevation: 630 feet
- Lowest Elevation: The lowest elevation found in Gateway Arch is 446 feet.
- Average Annual Precipitation: The average amount of precipitation for the year in Indiana Dunes is 16.82 inches.
- When Did It Become A National Park?
CHECK OUT: 11 AMAZING Facts About Acadia National Park
Gateway Arch National Park Facts
Top 5 Gateway Arch National Park Facts
2. It’s The Smallest National Park
Let’s begin our interesting list of Gateway Park National Park Facts with the one which often attracts the most attention.
At a mere 91 acres, Gateway Arch National Park is the smallest national park in America. It doesn’t even have a natural area.
So why, you might ask, is it a national park? That’s a good question. Unfortunately, it’s not one that I can safely answer other to say that these decision are sometimes made on the basis of political considerations and having powerful friends in Congress never hurts whether your state’s park is deserving of national park status or not.
CHECK OUT: 11 AMAZING Facts About Arches National Park
3. The Park Was Originally Inspired By Jefferson’s Vision
If you’re interested in origin stories then one of the most interesting Gateway Arch National Park Facts is that St. Louis was the capitol of the Louisiana Territory from 1812 until Missouri gained statehood in 1821.
It was the vision of America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, that Missouri should serve as the “Gateway to the West.”
That vision is symbolized today by the iconic Gateway Arch. So, in fact, you could say that Jefferson’s Vision inspired both the arch and the park.
4. The Gateway Arch Represents The Jumping-Off Point Of America’s Age Of Westward Exploration
For me, one of the most intriguing of the Gateway Arch National Park Facts involves the fact that the arch represents the jumping-off point of 19th century America’s age of westward exploration.
From the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase to Lewis & Clark’s Corps of Discovery and the subsequent westward expansion of the North American continent, it is the doorway to America’s “manifest destiny.”
Manifest Destiny, a phrase coined in 1845, is the idea that the United States is destined—by God, its advocates believed—to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent. It’s an interesting idea and one which helped to drive America’s quest to go from “sea to shining sea.”
Symbolically speaking, a journey through this fabled arch signifies our nation’s grand mission to occupy all of the land from sea to shining sea.
5. Gateway Arch Has A Visitor Center That Is Second To None
Now here’s another one of those amazing Gateway Arch National Park Facts. Before becoming a flagship national park in 2018, the Gateway Arch Visitor Center underwent a $380 million dollar renovation. That’s right! $380 million dollars!
Totaling more than 150,000 square feet, it’s accessed by a semi-circular entryway that is accentuated by the site’s curving geometry. The lobby is actually dug into a berm and organized around a circle of water. An artistic masterpiece!
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more magnificent visitor center at any other national park in America.
6. The Iconic Gateway Arch Is One Of The Most Recognizable & Beloved Landmarks In The U.S.
Another of the amazing Gateway Arch National Park Facts is that, at 630 feet, the Gateway Arch is one of the most recognizable and beloved landmarks in the United States.
As a matter of fact, the monument we know today first began in 1935, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt designated property along the St. Louis riverfront to be developed as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (now known as Gateway Arch National Park)
Top 10 Gateway Arch National Park Facts
7. A Finnish-American Architect Won A Nationwide Competition To Design The Famous Arch
Just when you thought we couldn’t come up with any more unbelievable Gateway Arch National Park Facts we’ve come up with another one.
A nationwide design competition was launched in 1948 to determine what shape the Memorial would take. Architect Eero Saarinen’s design won and, in 1963, construction began on a stainless steel arch.
Saarinen was a Finnish-American architect and industrial designer noted for his wide-ranging array of designs for buildings and monuments.
Among his other designs were the General Motors Technical Center in Michigan and Washington Dulles International Airport outside of Washington D.C.
Saarinen’s motivation was to honor Thomas Jefferson, but to also create a structure “which would have lasting significance and would be a landmark of our time.”
It was completed two years later in 1965. Today, it stands as a symbol of national identity and an example of mid-century modern design.
As a retired history teacher I am always fascinated by the stories of the people behind these wonderful projects. One of my favorite of the Gateway Arch National Parks Facts has to do with just such a person.
Luther Ely Smith was a 19th century St. Louis lawyer and civic booster who first proposed a riverfront memorial for President Thomas Jefferson. It was his efforts which led to the creation of the Gateway Arch.
It is therefore fitting and appropriate that the park which bears his name should welcome visitors to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and Gateway Arch National Park.
9. There’s A Square That’s Also Named After The Same 19th Century Lawyer
And if a park wasn’t enough, there’s also a square that’s named in honor of the same 19th century St. Louis lawyer – Luther Ely Smith.
Luther Ely Smith Square is a magnificently landscaped green space, which leads to the entrance of the Arch.
Visitors to the area can enjoy unique plantings, picnic areas, and more than 300 feet of benches.
For history buffs, there’s also the Museum of Westward Expansion, which is located below the Arch.
This museum contains an extensive collection of artifacts, mounted animal specimens, an authentic Native American tipi, and an overview of the Lewis and Clark expedition.
10. The Arch Is The Tallest Artificial Monument In The U.S.
The arch, which stands 630 feet tall, is the tallest artificial monument in the United States and Missouri’s tallest accessible building.
Now here’s another of those amazing Gateway Arch National Park Facts.
The arch is 630 feet wide at the base. This means that it’s just as wide as it is tall. That’s amazing!
11. The Gateway Arch Weighs 43,220 Pounds
The Gateway Arch is a magnificent architectural achievement. Here are some additional fascinating Gateway Arch National Park Facts:
- It weighs 43,220 pounds, and was designed with an allowance of an 18-inch sway and to withstand an earthquake.
- There are six 1/2 by 20 inch lightning rods plus an aircraft light on the top of the arch.
- The cost to build the arch totaled 13 million dollars.
- There’s a tram system that was created to carry visitors to the top of the arch which was developed in just two weeks.
Map Of Gateway Arch National Park
List Of Gateway Arch National Park Facts
- It’s The Smallest National Park
- The Park Was Originally Inspired By Jefferson’s Vision
- The Gateway Arch Represents The Jumping-Off Point Of America’s Age Of Westward Exploration
- Gateway Arch Has A Visitor Center That Is Second To None
- The Iconic Gateway Arch Is One Of The Most Recognizable & Beloved Landmarks In The U.S.
- A Finnish-American Architect Won A Nationwide Competition To Design The Famous Arch
- A 19th Century St. Louis Lawyer Who First Proposed A Riverfront Memorial For Thomas Jefferson Had A Park There Named In His Honor
- There’s A Square That’s Also Named After The Same 19th Century Lawyer
- The Arch Is The Tallest Artificial Monument In The U.S.
- The Gateway Arch Weighs 43,220 Pounds
About The People Behind More Than Just Parks
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. My sons have spent their entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
As for me, I’m a retired lifelong educator and proud dad of these two guys hopelessly obsessed with the national parks.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
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