Last updated: October 13, 2022
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The United States National Memorial Arch was erected in the early part of the 20th century on the road where soldiers marched in to Valley Forge on December 19, 1777. The monument commemorates the arrival and the sacrifices of General George Washington and the Continental Army at Valley Forge during that winter of the American Revolutionary War.
The monument was designed by Paul Philippe Cret, being a simplified version of the Arch of Titus in Rome (81 CE) which marked the capture of Jerusalem by Emperor Titus in 70 CE. In the classical tradition, a triumphal arch of one or three openings was erected to honor generals or emperors. This memorial arch with its single opening is classically proper as a national tribute to General Washington and the army he led.
In 1907 the Valley Forge Park Commission developed a plan for the construction of two arches, a Washington Arch at the Valley Creek entrance to the park, and a von Steuben Arch at the park entrance at the opposite end on Port Kennedy Road (North Gulph Road and Route 23). These were to serve as entrance gates (the park was enclosed with an iron fence at this time) as well as monuments honoring the two generals and the troops. The bill for the two arches at $50,000 each was approved by the House of Representatives in March 1910, but failed in the Senate. A bill for one arch was approved in October 1910 for $100,000. Funds were appropriated in 1911, construction began in 1914 and dedication ceremonies were conducted on June 19, 1917.