Anna and her family arrived in St. Louis as immigrants from Bremen, Germany.
John was an enslaved dock worker who loaded and unloaded steamboats to make money to buy his freedom.
James B. Eads
James designed a ‘submarine’ to salvage cargo from sunken steamboats at the bottom of the Mississippi River.
Book Your Virtual Reality Experience
When you’re seated in our Virtual Reality Theater, your 3D headset will transport you to a 360° depiction of the St. Louis riverfront in the 1850s. You’ll be immersed in the sights and sounds of the bustling levee, and will learn the stories of some of the diverse people who crossed paths there.
Pricing: Adults: $10
Children (3-15): $8
Travel back in time to the St. Louis Mississippi River levee of the 1850s.
In Cobblestones & Courage, you’ll witness how the St. Louis riverfront served as an important crossroads for America’s westward migration. Watch as steamboats deliver travelers and goods from around the world. And hear the stories of courage, struggle, and hopes of some of the real people who crossed paths there.
John Parker is a 42-year-old African American who has worked as a steamboat hand since he was a boy. Although his wife and children are free, he remains enslaved. His enslaver hires him out and John manages to keep a portion of his earnings that he plans to use to buy his freedom.
Anna, age 40, her husband and their two children are immigrants from the town of Bremen, Germany. They came to St. Louis to stay with Anna's family who arrived several years earlier. Anna didn't expect St. Louis to be such a big city and is worried her children will get lost.
James B. Eads
James B. Eads was born in Indiana in 1820, and came to St. Louis when he was 13. He was brilliant and curious, and at 22 started his own salvage company on the Mississippi River.
What to Expect
Plan Your Visit
Ready to explore the sights above and stories below at Gateway Arch National Park? Here are some helpful pointers to make the most of your visit.
Before You Go
Book Tram, Virtual Reality Theater, and Movie Tickets in Advance
While you are visiting the free museum, take a Tram Ride to the Top, experience the 1850s riverfront in virtual reality, and watch the award-winning documentary about the building of the Gateway Arch. Tram tickets sell out early and often, so buy your tickets ahead of time. The time listed on your ticket is when you need to be at the tram or theatre entrance.
Example Day at the Gateway Arch
8:30 AM Park Your Car
Our preferred parking lot is open at the Stadium East Parking Garage. Give yourself enough time to select a spot and make your way to Gateway Arch National Park. Pre-paid parking may also be purchased in advance.
9:00 AM Head to the Security Screen Line
As a National Park Service site, Gateway Arch National Park requires all visitors to enter through security. Give yourself and your guests at least 30 minutes to get through security screening at the entrance. The Gateway Arch entrance faces Fourth Street and the Old Courthouse.
9:30 AM Visit the Free Museum
The stories below are just as magnificent as the sights above! Before you make your way to your scheduled tram ride or documentary viewing, set aside an hour or more to browse the free world-class museum, featuring six interactive galleries detailing over 200 years of St. Louis and American history and how the Gateway Arch came to be.
11:00 AM Experience the 1850s Riverfront in our Virtual Reality Theater
Find yourself immersed in multiple perspectives of what it was like in the 1850s on the St. Louis Riverfront in our virtual reality theater, located just outside the Arch Store in the tram lobby.
11:30 AM Grab Lunch at the Arch Café
Enjoy lunch during your visit. The Arch Café offers everything from St. Louis ribs, burgers, paninis and toasted ravioli to vegetarian and gluten-free options as well as a coffee bar. The Café is open during regular hours.
12:00 PM Watch an Award-Winning Documentary
Share in the triumphs and struggles of the making of the Gateway to the West with the "Monument to the Dream" documentary located in Tucker Theater. The 35-minute film describes the details behind Eero Saarinen’s design, compelling stories from the builders and the lasting impact the Gateway Arch leaves on the St. Louis community today.
12:50 PM Take the Tram to the Top
Make your way to the tram entrance just past the museum to make your journey to the top of the Gateway Arch. A tour guide will assist you through interactive, pre-boarding exhibits before you take your trip to the top and take in all the breath-taking views 630 feet above the city.
1:30 PM Shop at the Arch Store
Stop by the Arch Store on your way out. Pick up a souvenir to remember your visit or choose from a unique collection of gifts, apparel, books and more.
1:45 PM Take a Walk Through the Park
The sights continue after your ride to the top. Extend your day at Gateway Arch National Park by spending time in our 91-acre park along the Mississippi River or learn about the Old Courthouse.
Please Note: The Old Courthouse is temporarily unavailable due to renovations.
Have more time to Explore the St. Louis Riverfront?
Enjoy some of the best views of the Gateway Arch and St. Louis’ working riverfront on a riverboat cruise. Whether you’re in the mood for a romantic dinner, a relaxing tour, or a floating party with live music and dancing, we have a cruise to suit your interests.
The Virtual Reality Theater is operated by Jefferson National Parks Association (JNPA), a non-profit partner of Gateway Arch National Park. JNPA helps people enjoy, learn about, and support their national parks and public lands. As a non-profit organization, JNPA provides for engaging and educational experiences at the Gateway Arch and Old Courthouse. JNPA also operates The Arch Store within the Arch visitor center, where visitors can purchase items relating to the Arch and to the historical themes presented in the museum.