Gateway to the West

Trip Start Apr 08, 2005
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Trip End Apr 09, 2006


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Friday, August 12, 2005

We leave Chicago in the rain and drive South to St. Louis in Missouri. The unmistakeable Gateway Arch (aka The Jefferson National Expansion Monument) is the first site on the horizon, it is overlooking the Missippi River and the city of St. Louis. Near the Gateway arch the Missouri river empties into the Missippi river.

In 1764 a french fur traper named Pierre Laclede established a trading post on the western bank of the Missippi. This successsful village developed into the city of St. Louis, Gateway to the West. He intended the Missouri water highway as vital to his plan to tap into the wealth of the West. In 1803, Clark and Lewis outfitted in St. Louis for their exploration of the Louisana purchase. 3 years later, they returned and reported that the Western part of the continent was a fabulous land, thick with beaver (St. Louis became the fur traders to the world until 1840's, when prices fell). At this point a new boom occured, the stories of the vast western lands extended to Eastern US and Europe and thus occured the westward immigration. At the same time the steamboat came into its own and the river's importance multiplied.

In 1947, Eero Saarinen, a Finnish American architect concieved the heoric arch of stainless steel to celebrate the soaring mind of President Jefferson. The arch is 630 ft high and subject to extreme temperatures, heavy winds and earthquakes. Another engineering problem was the stability of the two legs. This was solved by pouring concrete up to 300ft forming a sandwich, taut as a bow by steel tendons pulled up from the foundations. The arch was completed in 1965.

We take a tram ride ($10 each, or $14 including the Arch museum and construction video's) to the top of the Arch where they have an observation deck overlooking the city and Missippi river.

For lunch we wander through Macledes Landing (a 9 block area of century old brick and cast iron facade buildings). It has charming cobblestone streets where once gas powered traffic lights also stood. Hannegan's pus is our choosen restaurant, it was built as a replica of the US Senate Dining Room with photos and artifacts capturing memories of the 1940's political scene. For lunch we sample traditional St Louis toasted ravioli - excellent!

After lunch we stroll through the streets of St. Louis, but very slowly - the humidity here is almost unbearable. Poor Ad!!!!

We decide to go to an NFL (National Football League) pre-season game that's on in the local stadium - The Edward Jones Dome. This fabulous all covered stadium is home to the local football team, the St. Louis Rams. This evening they take on the Chicago Bears and eventually come out on top by a score of 17- - 13. We are very fortunate and get excellent 50 yard seats (mid-field) for a total of $60.(face value $170). Afterwards we drive out past the airport and find a very clean Motel 6 for only $35!
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