Corbitt's National Parks
     Jefferson National Expansion
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1935: Memorial

Size: 91 acres

2008 visitors: 1,954,810

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

This Memorial was established in 1935 to commemorate Thomas Jefferson and other leaders who encouraged the westward territorial expansion of the United States, as well as the brave pioneers who explored and settled the West. Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, settlers began moving west and St. Louis, with its strategic location on the Mississippi River, high above on a bluff, became an important center of commerce, culture, and transportation. It was the headquarters of the western fur trade, and more than this was a gathering point for pioneers starting across the plains.

What You're Going to See

The Memorial is highlighted by the famous 630-foot Gateway Arch, located on the St. Louis Riverfront. A nationwide competition was held during 1948-49, and Eero Saarinen's stainless-steel arch design was chosen to symbolize the city's historic role as a gateway for the westward pioneers. It took two years to build, and was completed in 1965 at a cost of only $15 million. Concrete foundations are sunk 60 feet into the ground, and it was built to withstand earthquakes and high winds. Visitors can ride up in a unique passenger tram, for which a fee is charged. There are eight five-passenger cars, built much like baskets on a Ferris Wheel, and each arrives at an observation deck at the top.

Beneath the arch is the large Museum of Westward Expansion, which has exhibits detailing the westward migration, including information on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Films about the expansion and of the building of the arch are shown throughout the day. Also in the Memorial is the Old Courthouse, which was built starting in 1839 and is one of the oldest buildings in St. Louis. It's the place where Dred Scott sued for his freedom. Also on site is the Old Cathedral.

Personal Observations

I haven't been there yet, but I can't wait to take the tram to the top of the Arch.

Getting There

The Memorial is located in St. Louis, Missouri, at 11 North Fourth Street. An exit off I-70 leads directly to the Memorial.

Nearby Attractions

Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site is about 10 miles to the southwest. Lincoln Home National Historic Site is about 80 miles to the north in Springfield, Illinois.

Not visited yet.