Fun-fact Friday! Six Things You May Not Know about the Arch

arch in archWow your friends, family and coworkers with your ‘overarching’ knowledge of everything Gateway Arch! Here are a few fun facts about your favorite famous federal feature for this Friday. (Who here likes tongue twisters?)

  • It was near the present-day location of the Arch’s south leg where, in 1763, Pierre Laclede used an ax to mark a tree that established the site of a French fur trading post. This location eventually became the French colonial town (and later city) of St. Louis.
  • The Arch was designed by Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, who won the right to its design through a 1947 national architectural competition for Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. Saarinen set out to design a monument to honor Thomas Jefferson while creating a structure “which would have lasting significance and would be a landmark of our time.”
  • Sadly, Eero never saw his monumental vision truly come to life. He died of a brain tumor in 1961 at age of 51. The Arch was completed four years later, on October 28, 1965.
  • The Arch is as wide as it is tall. That’s right! The Arch is 630 feet wide and 630 feet tall. Your eyes may play tricks on you, but the numbers don’t lie!
  • You’d definitely break a sweat if you were to ascend to the top of the Arch by foot: There are 1,076 steps. (By comparison the Washington Monument has 897. The Willis Tower in Chicago, on the other hand, has 2,109 steps.)
  • Despite its seemingly small appearance, the Arch’s observation deck at its top can hold up to 160 people! (But let’s not challenge that fact, shall we? That would be a very uncomfortable visiting experience.)
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