Thursday, August 05, 2010

The St. Louis Arch

One of the cities we visited on our summer vacation was St. Louis. James was really keen to go through there on our way to the Indianapolis area. I didn't know anything about St. Louis so I was unaware of what a great place it is. The first thing on our agenda was to go see the arch. I was game to go along but not excited or anything... It's an arch with an elevator inside, right?  On the way, James told the boys about how his father was just outside St. Louis the day they placed the final section in the very top of the arch and remembers them pulling the outside pieces in slightly to meet the middle section.

When we got there, I was very impressed. I see now why St. Louisans (St. Louisites?) are so crazy about their arch and have it on every image, sign or symbol for the city. The size and grace of the structure are quite striking, and after having seen it up close, it retains it's beauty when seen from afar.  Standing below felt momentous and I realized, "I really like this city."
(We are trying out a new point and shoot camera, so I often hand Zack, my budding photographer, the older one. I love seeing him work hard to get a good photo angle. He took the image of the arch at the top of this post.)
The "must do" thing at the arch is to visit the underground museum below the base and ride to the top of the arch to look out. You can enter from either side of the base which opens to a large continuous space below filled with a theater, a museum, a gift shop and tram stations. The ride to the top is taken in these little capsules that seat five in a semi-circle, knee to knee. The downside to the visit is that you stand in a line to get tram tickets, then in a line to be called for your tram boarding, then in another line to get your boarding passes, then in a line to have your boarding pass called, then in a line to board. In all these lines you are toe to toe with a crush of people. So. Many. People. So little room to stand. No place for small children to move. In some cases your assigned space is a yellow square that it's impossible to get into if you are holding a small child on your hip. There is no place to sit down until you are in the capsule, then you are very conscious of being unable to avoid touching strangers. The attendants said it wasn't even particularly busy that day.

The view from the top is nice.  Is it nice enough to counteract all those lines and all that congestion?  Yes... I think so.  Or rather, the experience of having been is enough to make me glad we went.  It was a good and fun thing to do, it just didn't compare to the beauty of the structure from the outside.

Although, there was another cramped stand-in-this-tiny-yellow-box-with-your-hip-touching-a-stranger line to get back down. 


  1. Wow! I am very impressed with Zack's photography skills! That is a great photo! St. Louis is a place I would like to go someday!

  2. That is a very striking photo of the arch, Zach. When do you start scrapbooking all of your pictures, too?

  3. I agree with everything. As a person with a bit of claustrophobia, the process of going to the top was a challenge. I don't like heights either but it's hard not to enjoy that view. We must have been super lucky because I think we rode down without strangers in our pod.