Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park, Saint Louis

4.3
#6 of 15 in Historic Sites in Saint Louis
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Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Park Reviews
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4.5
TripAdvisor
  • We loved our visit to the Arch. Even though the view was obstructed by the snow and clouds, it was still a wonderful visit. The ride to the top is fun, and the rangers were friendly and helpful. You c...  more »
  • This is a superior Memorial Park and needs to be on everyone's bucket list. I enjoyed going and seeing all the rich history that is involved in the expansion of the American population going West.  more »
  • This place, known as the Old Courthouse, is tucked away next to the Gateway Arch, and a bunch of high rise buildings, within easy walking distance. It is where one of America‚Äôs most famous court cases...  more »
Google
  • The whole plaza is amazing and very informative. The gateway Arch is the centerpiece but everything below ground is also great. We partook in the museum and took a tram to the top of the arch. From there the veiw is awesome. The whole riverfront near the monument is nice. Well worth the time to take it all in
  • Have to purchase tickets at courthouse across the road. $13 to ride to the top. Good views and fun ride up, though the city has been hit hard by sprawl so that reality sobers the view a bit. I'm probably a few years too old, but my friends and I like to do the junior park ranger programs for fun... unfortunately the NPS worker was a real jerk about it, whereas other rangers at other parks have been much more fun. Overall, a good hour long experience for a decent price.
  • The history to build the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is a complicated one. The idea was pitched by Luther Ely Smith in 1933. He later convinced President Franklin Roosevelt to declare the memorial a National Park if the city of St Louis passed necessary bonds for construction. Smith proposed that any national memorial to Jefferson should be symbolic of the Louisiana Purchase and at the starting point of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. St Louis struggled with land purchases and subsequent eminent domain as 40 blocks of prime downtown property was bitterly fought over. Not until 1942 was the land started to be cleared. In 1950, President Harry Truman dedicated the open site. Soon after though, the Korean War forced the project to be placed on hold. Luther Ely Smith, deemed the father of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, died before its completion (or its start) in 1951. Excavation of the site along the St Louis River began in 1961. At a building cost of around $15 million, the Jefferson Memorial Gateway Arch was finally completed in 1965. Vice President Hubert Humphrey dedicated the park in 1968. The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial was established to commemorate the Louisiana Purchase and the movement westward that followed. It also honors Dred Scott who sued for his freedom in St Louis. Sitting on a 91 acre park, the steel Gateway Arch stands 630 ft tall and 630 ft wide at its base. It is now a St Louis icon. Underneath the Gateway Arch is a visitor center and museum. There is also a theater, a library and an educational bookstore. From here, one can purchase a ticket to ride the internal tram (tracks are inside the arch leg) to the top of the Arch. This is not a trip for those afraid of very cramped spaces or fear of elevation. Given the structural shape of the Arch, one can literally see straight down from the tram's observation area. For some, it might be overwhelming. Across the street is the St Louis Old Courthouse. Famous for the Dred Scott Trial in 1846 where Scott and his wife filed for their freedom, the Supreme Court decided the important 'freedom' case in 1857. Also administered from this NPS park is the nearby Ulysses S Grant National Historic Site. Whether viewing the Gateway Arch from the ground (it is an architectural wonder) or taking the tram high inside the Arch's leg, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial is an amazing place to visit.
  • Thats pretty neat! Good location. My only suggestion would be to rebuild it expanding across the Mississippi/Missouri river to the other side. Thatd be cool. And it would be more encompassing of the expansionism that's why it was built.
  • Under construction. Parking garage on North end removed. Staff very friendly. Museum not open.

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