St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay (left) presented Tom Bradley (right) of the National Park Service with a proclamation honoring the 50th anniversary of the Gateway Arch.
On October 28, 2015, at 11:00 A.M., a special ceremony was held at the base of the St. Louis Gateway Arch monument. The ceremony was held at the same moment that the final piece of the Arch was placed exactly 50 years ago, in 1965. The Gateway Arch was built as a tribute to pioneers who headed west on wagon trains from St. Louis, Missouri. The city became known as the Gateway to the West.
The Arch was also built in tribute to the President who made westward expansion possible—Thomas Jefferson. The Gateway Arch is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The Arch stands along the Mississippi River and has become a well-known symbol of St. Louis. At 630 feet, the Arch is still the tallest one in the world.
On October 28, visitors to the Arch could get “Journey to the Top” tram tickets for only one dollar. This was the same price it cost to travel to the top of the Arch when the trams first opened in 1967. Visitors to the top received “Top of the Arch” lapel buttons that were modeled after the ones given out nearly 50 years ago. They also received “I Went to the Top” certificates like those that were handed out in the 1960s.
The Arch is now getting a makeover that will include an expansion of the visitor center and update to the Museum of Westward Expansion. Both are located underneath the Arch. The updated museum will include more information about the negative effect westward expansion had on many Native Americans. In addition, a new park is being created between the Arch and downtown St. Louis.
At the 50th-anniversary celebration, free cupcakes were handed out to the first 1,000 visitors. These cupcakes were decorated with a special anniversary theme. The mayor of St. Louis, Francis Slay, and National Park Service officials spoke about the importance of the Arch’s 50th birthday. Arch builders and workers were also in attendance. Mayor Slay talked about how he remembered the day the Arch was completed as a day that the whole world was focused on St. Louis. He was only 10 years old at the time. As the anniversary events continued into the evening, golden lights lit up the Arch for its 50th birthday.
Image credit: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
- Gateway Arch 50th Anniversary
Learn more about the projects and celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of of St. Louis’s Gateway Arch.
- Gateway Arch Turns Gold for 50th Anniversary
See historical photos of the Gateway Arch and read more about its history and the 50th anniversary events in this St. Louis Post-Dispatch article.