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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

ABCs of St. Louis Attractions: 'A' Is For The Gateway Arch


As a kid, St. Louis was not my first home. I moved here when I was ten. Though, I had visited the Gateway Arch before becoming a local. When I was four years old, we traveled from Iowa to take the journey to the top. I still remember my  mom’s terror of riding up in that little pod elevator that opened up to a viewing area overlooking the city and the Mississippi River. She panicked at the thought of getting back into that enclosed space, and tried to convince me to go with her down the 630 feet of enclosed stairs, instead – 1,076 stairs to be precise, which by the way, are only used for maintenance personnel.  Thankfully, my dad jumped to my rescue and calmed her fears. We all safely arrived inside the pod elevator, at the bottom of the leg of the arch.

After that, we would make more visits to this area attraction. Every time a friend or relative would come to visit us in our new-found city, we would treat them to a trip to the St. Louis Zoo, the arch, or Six Flags.

It dawned on me that I have now lived in this city long enough to understand some of its hot spots. After all, every public schooled child in the vicinity has sat through the ‘Making of the Arch’ movie at least once. I think I had it memorized as a child, and as far as I know, it’s now being shown in the museum section of the Arch, located in one of the lower legs. It really is an informative movie, even if you don’t want to make the trek up the pod elevator to take in the most spectacular views of the city and the river below.

Of course, the homeschooler in me decided it would be a good idea to begin a series on popular attractions in the area. What better place to start than at “A” in the ABCs of St. Louis Attractions, than with the Arch?

For pricing and hours, visit the Jefferson national Expansion Museum website. The film they now show is called ‘Monument to the Dream’.

The official owner and name of the Arch is the Jefferson National Expansion Museum, and is located on the Mississippi Riverfront, but its listed address is 100 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO 63102.
First, here are a couple of other sites for Fun Facts about the Arch:
Also, enjoy some Educator Worksheets about the Arch, complete with answers.
And, another worksheet from Eduction.com (This one, you have to sign up to receive it free!).
I’ll break up the facts into the core subjects for learning and include some learning activity links:

There is quite a lot of math and geometry involved in the construction of the Arch that could take you well into college-level learning.
Blueprints for the Arch revealed formulae that looked like this:
Y = A(cosh Cx/L – 1) <-> x = L/C cosh -1 (1 + y/A) with the constants A = fc/Qa/Qt-1 = 68.7672 and C = cosh -1 Qb/Qt = 3.0022
Since most people will look at this formula and decide it is far too complicated to delve into, there are plenty of other mathematical equations to construct:
Enchanted Learning has some basic math facts about the Arch, and a fun coloring sheet that includes some additional facts about how the Arch design was chosen.
Construction began on February 12, 1963 and was completed on October 28, 1965.
The Arch stands 630 feet tall and is currently on 62 acres of land. Though, as of 2014, there is an Arch Grounds expansion and beautifying project underway to make the area even more appealing to tourists.
The tram that carries tourists to the top for an enclosed Arch top viewing experience takes four minutes to reach the top and three minutes to come back down. Depending on the number of visitors, the tram will either be operating on one side only or on both sides of the Arch legs.
There are 16 windows, sized 7-inches by 27-inches, on each side of the viewing area on top. The entire viewing area has a capacity to hold up to 160 people. The windows are made of ¾” plate glass and are hinged and locked.
The arch slopes up from a 54-foot base to a 17-foot top.
The shape of the 142 ¼-inch exterior pieces that make up the Arch are called equilateral triangles.
It’s always a popular math question to delve into a comparison of heights. Just so you know:
Arch – 630 feet
Eiffel Tower – 984.25 feet
Statue of Liberty – 305 feet
Washington Monument – 555 feet
Empire State Building – 1,250 feet
Sears Tower (Now, called the Willis Tower) – 1,451 feet
And, just so you know, the tallest building in the world is currently the Burj Khalifa Khalifa Tower, known as Burj Dubai, located in Dubai. It stands at 2,722 feet.

The arch is made of Stainless Steel #3 Finish type 304.

Of course, the obvious study of Lewis & Clark and the Westward Expansion beckons to be done when learning about the Arch.

The construction of this massive monument began on February 12, 1963 and was designed by architects Eero Saarinen and German architect, Hannskarl Bandel. For Saarinen, it all started with match sticks, when he took first place for his design at the age of 12.
For more on the history of the Arch, visit Wikipedia.

Language Arts:
In addition to English lessons related to the Arch, since one of the architects was from Germany and the other has roots in Finland, why not study some basic German and Finnish or Swedish words?

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