Until the recent “highway lid” was installed over Hwy 44, the Gateway Arch had been down right difficult to photograph. Well, difficult if you wanted any people in the photo.
This is one of my favorite shots, and it was pretty tricky to get since it was using a digital pocket camera propped up on a purse with a self timer…on the ground. Now a little background–because this was taken before the Arch grounds makeover, we were on the hill where the new entrance is now and just a few yards from Highway 44. Practically no one walked to this part of the lawn because…well, let me show you:
No local ever walked from downtown to the Arch in those days! Certainly not for a casual family pic. Most of us just took one of these and called it a day. —->
Let me remind ya, the Arch is THE tallest man made monument in America. Standing at a towering 630 feet tall, it’s just too dang big to fit in the frame.
Where to get the best family pictures of the Gateway Arch
You have several decent places to get a family photo of the Arch these days. Some you’ll pass by as you walk towards the new entrance, but others will take you on a little adventure around downtown.
If you follow #gatewayarch on Instagram you’ll see some great pictures for inspiration!
Luther Ely Smith Square
Since they moved the Arch’s front door closer to downtown and demolished the north parking garage, you now walk by one of THE best spots to grab a family photo of the Gateway Arch: the Luther Ely Smith Square. (Unless you parked on the levee, but that’s another story.)
Because it’s mislabeled as a “park” in Google Maps, you probably thought this little scrap of green space was local city park, especially when it was hemmed in by streets on all four sides. But actually the National Park Service takes care of the Arch grounds, the Old Courthouse and all the green space between. That’s 91 acres total.
On a Riverboat
We recently took a cruise on the Becky Thatcher, one of the Riverboats at the Gateway Arch. The tour starts right at the feet of the Arch, then sail up and down the river. You’ll pass by the Arch at least twice and have ample chances to get a good shot. You can also get a really nice postcard worthy city skyline photo from the boat too.
Riverboat sightseeing cruises are $20 for adults, $10 for kids. You can get tickets to cruise the river with your tram ride to the top tickets online here at the official Arch site.
Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park
If you’re feeling gutsy, one of the best places to view the Arch and get a postcard perfect shot of the St. Louis skyline is the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park. It’s located across the Mississippi River in East St. Louis, just down from the Casino Queen.
The Belleville News-Democrat did a great piece on the park recently and talked about the park’s popularity with photographers, tourists and wedding parties.
The park was made possible by Malcolm Martin, a St. Louis lawyer who formed a nonprofit group called Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis. His group raised money to buy land on the Illinois side of the river and eventually built a park so visitors could properly view the Gateway Arch in all its glory.
The park is home to the Gateway Geyser that fires off a giant 630 foot fountain of water and a platform that gives visitors a levee free view of the Arch.
An oldie but goodie, Kiener Plaza is a great spot for a family photo. You’ll get the Arch AND the Old Courthouse. It’s also been spiffed up lately with a nice new tile plaza and a playground for kids. Bonus: head to Kiener Plaza during a Kiener Kids events (hosted by Gateway Arch Park Foundation) and do some kid yoga, story time and play a few games!
For my out of town friends, Kiener Plaza is located west of the Old Courthouse and is part of a green strip that more or less runs from the Gateway Arch to Union Station, flanked by Market Street and Chestnut. The plaza is an easy walk from the East Stadium garage, my favorite place to park when visiting the Arch.