I visited the Gateway Arch, the most prominent landmark of St. Louis, today. The arch - dubbed the Gateway to the West - is 630 feet in height, making it United States' tallest man-made monument.
The steel and concrete arch, designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and structural engineer Hannskarl Bandel in 1947, was built starting in 1963 to commemorate the role of St. Louis to the westward expansion in the 19th century. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987
Going to the top involves taking a tram, which feels like a stop-and-go ferris wheel ride inside a cramped capsule that fits five people. But, when you reach the pinnacle and the observation deck, it was all worth it.
Peering down the windows allow magnificent views of downtown St. Louis on one side, and the Mississipi River and Illinois on the other.
How to Get There: If taking the MetroLink, get off at Laclede's Landing station and cross the street to the park. Entrance fee to the observation deck starts at $10 for adults.
[pics, from top: the Gateway Arch, 19th century artifacts, downtown St. Louis with the old Courthouse at the center, Busch Stadium as seen from the observation deck, a barge plying the Mississippi]