History & Culture

Gateway Arch National Park, formerly Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, consists of the Gateway Arch, and St. Louis' Old Courthouse. During a nation-wide competition in 1947-48, architect Eero Saarinen's inspired design for a 630-foot stainless steel arch was chosen as a perfect monument to the spirit of the western pioneers. Construction of the Arch began in 1963, and was completed on October 28, 1965, for a total cost of less than $15 million. The Arch has foundations sunk 60 feet into the ground, and is built to withstand earthquakes and high winds; it sways up to 1 inch in a 20 mph wind, and is built to sway up to 18 inches. A Grand Staircase leads from the St. Louis levee up to the base of the Gateway Arch.

Fees are charged to ride the unique tram system to the top. Located just two blocks west of the Arch, the Old Courthouse is one of the oldest standing buildings in St. Louis. Construction began in 1839. It was here that the first two trials of the Dred Scott case were held in 1847 and 1850. Today, the building houses a museum charting the history of the city of St. Louis and restored courtrooms. These buildings, along with the accompanying grounds, make the total acreage for this park 90.96 acres.

Click here to learn more about the history of park from our Administrative Histories or Cultural Landscape Report 2010. Click here to view the Historic Structure Report for the Old Courthouse or the Historic Structure Report for the Gateway Arch.

The park collections include books, images, objects and papers about the history of the park, the history of westward expansion, the Lewis and Clark expedition and St. Louis history. Click here to learn more about these park collections.

A dark museum room with text printed on the right wall. Farther back is a replica of a house.

Museum at the Gateway Arch

The free museum underneath the Gateway Arch shares St. Louis's important role in United States history.

The gleaming stainless steel upside-down U of the gateway arch, with green grass in the foreground

Gateway Arch Construction

Who built it? When? What is it made of? Learn all about the construction of our favorite monument.

An ornate white building with a green top. The Gateway Arch is in the background.

Old Courthouse

The historic Old Courthouse, which is also part of this national park, is where the famous Dred Scott and Virginia Minor cases started.




Last updated: September 30, 2022

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One Memorial Drive
Suite 730

St. Louis , MO 63102


314 655-1600

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