Friday, May 25, 2012

Strut under the St. Louis Gateway Arch


If you follow my blog, you already know that I visited St. Louis at the beginning of May for a conference, and that I had an exciting chance to take my first beer brewery tour. However, I also had the chance to check out the massive Gateway Arch on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi in downtown St. Louis, do a wee bit of gambling and some shopping, and stroll the quaint and colonial streets of Old St. Charles Town (next blog entry). For only having one day of free time in St. Louis, we sure packed in a lot!

Dipping my foot in the Mighty Mississippi

My quick visit to the Gateway Arch actually happened on a Friday night, after the Budweiser Brewery Tour. We were already in the downtown area of St. Louis due to the brewery tour, and so naturally wanted to see the historical monument. I say "historical" not because of its age - it has only been around since 1965, when it officially opened - but because of what it stands for. It is also called the Gateway to the West, due to the fact that it was constructed in commemoration of all those who promoted westward expansion in America: President Jefferson and the explorers Lewis and Clark to name a few. (Lewis and Clark, I found, were super popular in St. Louis - there are a lot of stores and pubs named after them...)

The Arch peeking from behind a tree

We arrived at the Arch just as the sun was setting. The dusky light glinted off the silver giant with brilliance, and you had to don your shades just to look at it. It seemed to go up and up forever (it is 630 feet up, and 630 feet across - thanks Wikipedia!). I took about 50 photographs trying to capture its size and beauty, but no picture seemed to do it justice. We wandered around, posing at the base in order to model its size, and then running across the road and into the plaza beyond to try and get a picture of the Arch in its entirety. Finally we gave up and just took "artsy" pictures with it.

Can you see me, tiny and white by the Arch base?

We really wanted to go up the Arch, for there is an observation deck at the very tippy-top, but were told that the elevators and observation area closed at 5 p.m. It was very disappointing, because we had been looking forward to seeing the amazing view of St. Louis in the evening, sprawling along the river below us. Note to self: check out the opening and closing times of special sites BEFORE spending $60.00 on a cab ride downtown. (Unlike the Budweiser Brewery, we did not get a special, private, after-hours tour of the Arch... there was no one there to bat our eyelashes at!)

A shot of the St Louise Gateway Arch in its entirety

Instead of going up to the top, we left to do some shopping, some gambling at a casino (well, I watched my friends gamble since I don't gamble myself - I'm too cheap to gamble!), and to eat a delicious tapas dinner. We didn't even get back to the Arch to see it lit up in the evening, which from what I have seen online, is beautiful even from the ground. If I ever find myself back in the St. Louis area, I have vowed to make sure I return to the Arch, take the elevator to the top, enjoy the view, and then stick around for the evening light show!

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