The Arch stands (and sometimes sways—by design) as a symbol of discovery. But also as a symbol of re-discovery. If you haven’t seen it lately—how the Arch grounds flow from the city, to the majestic Arch itself, to the powerful river—it’s time to re-discover the Arch. Not only is the Arch the “Gateway to the West,” it’s also the Gateway to tourism in Missouri.
The Gateway Arch: An Enduring Partnership
From coast to coast, Americans know about the Gateway Arch. It’s synonymous with the entire St. Louis region. The attraction’s $380 million renovation, which was completed in 2018, marked the largest public-private partnership in the history of the National Park Service. The project created 530 construction opportunities and led to 4,400 permanent jobs.
That investment represents not just the largest public-private partnership in the history of the National Park Service—it’s a testament to how much our business and community leaders love the Gateway Arch National Park.
A Symbol Re-Discovery
The Arch stands (and sometimes sways—by design) as a symbol of discovery. But also as a symbol of re-discovery. If you haven’t seen it lately—how the Arch grounds flow from the city, to the majestic Arch itself, to the powerful river—it’s time to re-discover the Arch. Not only is the Arch the “Gateway to the West,” it’s also the Gateway to tourism in Missouri. “Tourism is one of the leading industries in Missouri, and the Arch is the number one tourist attraction in St. Louis,” said Mike. St. Louis’ Gateway Arch is the most visited monument west of Washington D.C.Collaborating for Success
The Arch is the most successful collaboration in the region. Bi-State Development (BSD) operates the tram system, sells tickets to the top, and is responsible for all of the Arch wayfinding, marketing and communications. This work by BSD is largely responsible for the unparalleled visitor experience. In addition to the Gateway Arch Park Foundation, NPS, and Bi-State Development, partners also include the City of St. Louis, Great Rivers Greenway, and the Jefferson National Parks Association. The groundbreaking $380 million project added 46,000 square feet to the museum under the Arch, redesigned museum exhibits and improved Kiener Plaza, park grounds, and the riverfront—including bicycle trails and performance venues—with a focus on accessibility for all St. Louis visitors.Show-Me Economic Impact: Leading the Way
In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday—a milestone deserving of a statewide celebration. To commemorate the centennial of this historic organization, BSD created the Missouri National Parks Passport Challenge, a highly successful program that encouraged explorers to experience the wealth of educational, cultural and recreational opportunities Missouri’s national parks provide. The successful Passport Challenge drove visitor engagement to the Arch and Missouri’s five other national parks—many of which were among the Show-Me State’s best kept secrets. Park visitors collected passport “stamps” and earned prizes as they traveled to Missouri’s six National parks. “The economic impact of the Arch in this community is one thing, but most of the people that come to see the Arch actually go on to see the rest of Missouri on their travels,” said Mike. The Missouri National Parks Passport Challenge Program is serving as a model for other Statewide National Parks Passport Challenge programs, and is driving significant new engagement and interest in national parks across the country.Looking Ahead
The Gateway Arch National Park team is looking ahead—toward the next 50 years of the Arch grounds. “We had a grand opening in a way that most folks wouldn’t—at Fair St. Louis. We brought several hundred thousand people back to the Arch over the Fourth of July weekend this year for ‘America’s Biggest Birthday Party.’ It was the first Fair St. Louis on the Arch grounds in four years,” said Mike. It’s time to re-discover the Arch.
A Tall Order: Experienced Leadership
Mike Ward, Superintendent of the Gateway Arch National Park (formerly known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial), is a 34-year veteran of the National Park Service (NPS). According to Mike, the NPS is unlike any other agency in the federal government. “For every tax dollar sent to Washington, the NPS returns $10 to the St. Louis region in tourism and economic impact.” During non-construction years, the Arch is visited by more than four million guests each year. Mike’s job at the NPS is part-park ranger and part-public relations director. He is especially busy now that Arch renovations are complete—helping to showcase the re-design of the Arch grounds, including the Park Over the Highway that, for the first time, allows visitors to walk from the Old Courthouse to the Arch grounds to the riverfront on one continuous, accessible greenway.