St. Louis Arch

Thursday 11 May 2006, 11:28 pm

Thursday, May 11

The weather today is very windy, but there is no rain.

Today we visited the arch. Officially, it is known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The Gateway Arch celebrates the westward expansion that began with the journeys of Lewis and Clark during the Jefferson presidency. There are four activities at the memorial. There is a film about the journey of Lewis and Clark. It was fascinating and we both learned a lot. There was a film about the construction of the arch. Mary wanted to see this while I was ambivalent. I found it more interesting than I'd anticipated. I recommend it. Then there is the actual tram that goes to the top of the arch. It is built very much like a regular elevator that has several cars tied together. However, the elevator is not strictly vertical; it sort of goes up in vertical sections but it has to "jog" on an angle once in a while. The cars are circular so they can navigate the occasional curves. The tram takes about four minutes to climb nearly to the top of the 630-foot arch. Stairs take you the last 20 feet or so. It takes about four minutes to return. You can stay on the top as long as you like and take pictures.

The fourth piece is the museum, which is the only piece that doesn't cost money. The museum is interesting but overwhelming.

There is also a courthouse building at a separate location, but we didn't see that.

After leaving the arch, we bought Metrorail tickets and headed out to Union Station, where we were told there was a neighborhood with restaurants. It turns out Union Station is a railroad station rehabilitated into a shopping mall. We walked around the mall, and eventually ended up at Landry's Seafood House, where we had wonderful dinners. Mary got to talk to our waitress quite extensively about food allergies and how they might be causing the waitress's migraines.