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No, They’ve Never Had To Shut Down The Arch Due To Heat

Brett Blume
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7/6/12-The Gateway Arch as seen through the metal scaffolding that surrounds the Old Courthouse downtown. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

7/6/12-The Gateway Arch as seen through the metal scaffolding that surrounds the Old Courthouse downtown. (KMOX/Brett Blume)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) –  As KMOX reporters were sitting around the newsroom discussing ideas for our 948th heat-related story of the week, we got to wondering how hot the steel skin of the Arch gets when the mercury soars above 100 degrees.

And while the answer is “National Park Service officials have never taken the Arch’s temperature and aren’t sure how they could do that anyway”, we did find out a couple of interesting things about the Gateway Arch and scorching heat.

Park Service spokesperson Ann Honious tells KMOX News that they have to come clean about one thing: while the very tip-top of the Arch (630 ft. up) is indeed air-conditioned

It is not as cool as walking into a store to go shopping or into your home,” Honious says. “It’s about 20 degrees less than it is outside.”

Which means during the height of the day Friday, it would feel like it’s about 90 degrees on the observation deck.

Ohand the legs aren’t air-conditioned either, Honious adds.

“So the travel in-between is a little warm so you want to be prepared,” she cautions.

Of course you don’t have to travel to the top to enjoy a visit to the Arch grounds.

A 30,000 square foot museum beneath the legs of the Arch memorializes St. Louis’ role as the Gateway to the West.

And of course there’s also “Monument to the Dream”, filmmaker Charles Guggenheim’s memorable documentary about the effort to turn Eero Saarinen’s visionary dream into a reality.

But what about the question of how hot the stainless steel outer skin gets in direct sunlight?

“As people know it’s very hard to get to the outside of the Arch,” Honious responds. “So we don’t have any temperature gauge or information on what the temperature outside actually is.”

One can assume, though, it’s really really hot.

Whether it’s extremely hot or extremely cold outside, the weather doesn’t do much to restrict tourism at the Arch — more than 2.2 million people visit the grounds each year with about 1 million of those making the trip to the top.

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