The Gateway Arch- Saarinen


This magnificent St. Louis attraction has quite the story. In 1947 the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Association held a competition to determine a monument that would symbolize the westward expansion of the United States. Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch was selected as the winner.

The Arch stands 630ft. tall and 630ft. wide making it the tallest memorial in the United States. Furthermore, it is constructed with stainless steel and represents the tallest stainless steel monument in the world. The cross sections of the legs are made of equilateral triangles that are largest and the base and get incrementally smaller as they move to the crest of the arch.


There is an enormous amount of history behind the design, planning, construction, and hurdles during construction of the Arch, this post will only highlight a few of them, but for more information you can visit: Gateway Arch. The Arch had to be built upwards from either side until the two legs met at the peak. This obviously required a very strategic plan with incredibly precise mathematics, specifically a hyperbolic cosine function. Technically speaking, the “Arch” is actually an inverted weighted catenary because it supports its own weight, additionally, Saarinen wanted the inverted arch to be weighted so that it appeared more curved and less steep.

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Overall, the Arch is an incredibly unique attraction that is nothing short of artistic and architectural genius.


Fun Facts about the Gateway Arch

  • Each leg stands in concrete that is 44ft. thick and 60ft. deep.
  • The Arch is resistant to earthquakes- designed to sway up to 18in. in both directions. It is also able to withstand winds up to 150mph.
  • There are three sets of transportation up the Arch. These modes include: stairs, elevations, and a tram in each leg. images (1)

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