The St. Louis Gateway Arch
If you’re in St. Louis you must spend at least one day visiting the Gateway Arch National Park. It used to be known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial until 2018 when it was renamed. Designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, it’s a monument like no other in the world. It pays tribute to St. Louis’ role in the Westward expansion of the United States during the nineteen century, to the pioneers who changed the landscape and history of this country and to slave Dred Scott who sued for his freedom in the Old Courthouse just West of the Gateway Arch. The landscape of the park has been extensively redesigned and celebrated its completion in July of 2018. Now it’s a lot more universally accessible and well connected to the Old Courthouse and the rest of downtown St. Louis. People, walking and green friendly. I was hugely impressed with the new design. As you walk on a tree-lined alley East from the Old Courthouse you are led to the new entrance and museum. Then take the tram ride up 630 feet to the top of America’s tallest man-made monument. Once is not enough. You should do it in the daylight hours and a must at sunset or night. The view from 63 stories high is unbelievable. Then walk the park grounds North and South of the Gateway Arch. Two beautiful ponds can offer a stunning reflection of the Arch on windless days and nights. For a different perspective I took a two hour cruise on the Mississippi with the Gateway Arch Riverboats. Great way to see the Gateway Arch and the city from the river.
Once you’re done with the Gateway Arch and the park you must also visit the Old Courthouse. Beautiful architecture popular in 19th century America, outside and inside, featuring a magnificent iron dome in the Italian-Renaissance style, similar to the National Capital building in Washington D.C. Then, head West young man or gal. But you don’t have to go far to come upon two beautiful parks. First and just West of the Old Courthouse is Kiener Plaza Park. Named in honor of Harry J. Kiener who was born in St. Louis in 1881. He was an amateur boxer, wrestler, and swimmer, but he is most noted for his position on the U.S. track team at the Olympics held in St. Louis in 1904 during the World's Fair. ‘The Olympic Runner’ statue in the park honoring Kiener it is the work of Lithuanian-born immigrant William Zorach. Looking East from the park you’ll see an iconic view of the Old Courthouse with the Gateway Arch just behind framing it, especially at night. And a bit more to the West is the Citygarden Sculpture Park. It’s an oasis of free interactive art, fountains and gardens spanning two long blocks. 24 sculptures by world renowned artists located on wide green lawns, six rain gardens, a children's spray plaza and a 180-foot-long pool with a six-foot waterfall. And a coffee shop known for its sustainable brews. There are a few more parks along the same avenue but I ran out of time. This was my first visit in St. Louis and the three days I spent there were just about right. If I had more time Forest Park is also a must see while in St. Louis. Opened in 1876, the park has hosted several major events, including the Louisiana Purchase Exposition or The World’s Fair of 1904 and most of the 1904 Summer Olympics events. It is huge and would require a good deal of time to properly experience it. If you like American history, unique architecture, spectacular views, have no fear of heights, don’t mind walking, love gardens and sculpture, enjoy photography, St. Louis is a city well worth visiting. More than once.