Gateway Arch - Public Access

Public Access

In April 1965, three million tourists were expected to visit the arch after completion; 619,763 tourists visited the top of the arch in its first year open. On January 15, 1969, a visitor from Nashville, Tennessee became the one-millionth person to reach the observation area; the ten-millionth person ascended to the top on August 24, 1979. In 1974, the arch was ranked fourth on a list of "most-visited man-made attraction". Currently, the Gateway Arch is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world with over four million visitors annually, of which around one million travel to the top. The arch was listed as a National Historic Landmark on June 2, 1987, and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On December 8, 2009, sponsored by nonprofit CityArchRiver2015, the international design competition "Framing a Modern Masterpiece: The City + The Arch + The River 2015" commenced. It aimed to "design a plan to improve the riverfront park landscape, ease access for pedestrians across Memorial Drive and expand onto the East St. Louis riverfront," as well as to lure visitors. The contest consisted of three stages—portfolio assessment (narrowed down to 8–10 teams), team interviews (narrowed down to 4–5 teams), and review of design proposals. The competition received 49 applicants, which were narrowed down to five in the first two stages. On August 17, 2010, the designs of the five finalists were revealed to the public and exhibited at the theater below the arch. On August 26, the finalists made their cases to an eight-member jury, and on September 21, the winner was revealed—Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. The company's plans include a gondola lift across the Mississippi River, using more land to the east of the river, and sealing Memorial Drive. The NPS' initial estimate of the cost ($305 million) was raised to $578 million. The execution of the design is set to be completed by October 28, 2015, the fiftieth anniversary of the arch's topping out.

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