Sunday, October 14, 2007

How DO You Get To the Top of the Arch?

It's a long way to the top and the cross section gets pretty small up there. How do people get to the Arch's observation deck?

There is a tram system, one in each leg. Eight claustrophobic little cabins. oval in cross section, are strung together. One person sits in the back, facing the door. Four others are squeezed along the sides, as you can see in the first picture. It is cramped in there. Everyone silently prays that it doesn't get stuck. (It happened once this year but that was the first time in a long while.)

The second picture shows the outer doors and one on the wheels that clamp over a rail. Obviously, the angle of curve changes as the tram goes up and down. The cars start to get slightly out of vertical pitch and then every once in a while kerchunk, the mechanism rights it again. Gets a squeal out of first timers.

I took the third picture on the way up, sitting in the back center seat. I am quite tall and you can see that my camera is above the level of the inner doors. Notice how close together the other passengers' knees are.

There is a good diagram of how the system works on this page. Interesting pages explaining the system are here and here. The last of these links tells a fascinating story of how the tram design was decided upon, after the Arch itself was finished. There are a couple of cute amateur videos shot from inside the cars on YouTube, like this one.

TOMORROW: The vastness of St. Louis from the skies. Well, we like to think so.


Jim Klenke said...

Scary, those cars bring back memories. I grew up on the east side in the 70s. The riverfront used to be so full of life, all kinds of boats. Looks like theres not much there now.

Anonymous said...

I think I like viewing the arch from ground level at the park! But great shots of the tram.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of 2001, A Space Odyssey, as well as other Sci-Fi films. I'm impressed they built this into the arch, rather than it just being sculpture, which I guess is what it is. Does it have another purpose?

Anonymous said...

I would love to go up it!

Norwich Daily Photo

travelphilippines said...

mmm i dont think i can get up there so lil space hehe. im a claustro

Anonymous said...

That first picture is awesome! I have never thought of taking pictures of the tram before. This first picture makes everything look so space age, too!


Steve Buser said...

Looks like some sci-fi rocket.

--steve buser
New Orleans Daily Photo

U "R" Us AKA Captain Crowe said...

That PDF article is really interesting. Particularly how the tram is deemed a mode of transportation under the responsibility and funding of Bi-State, who runs the city buses and light rail. Weird.

Courtland said...

Those trams look straight out of some sci-fi flick. How long is the ride up?

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

WOW! I am glad you showed us this. I did not go up when I was there, how interesting, I wish I did.