Welcome to St. Louis!
Come On In and Enjoy the (Architectural) View

Heading to St. Louis (or looking for a new activity to do around town?) With so much going for us, our vibrant architecture can be overlooked, but it’s worth noticing. Take a tour or walk our neighborhoods to discover our rich history through our buildings. Come on in, and enjoy the view!

Our distinct architectural styles are an important part of our city’s unique personality and culture. They’re a gateway to our past, revealing clues about how we got to where we are today, and they push us to create ever more appealing spaces, where people want to live, work and play.

Meet Me In St. Louis

First, let’s take a quick trip through the arch back in time. In 1904, we opened our doors to the world at The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also known as the St. Louis World’s Fair. It was a landmark event celebrating The Louisiana Purchase, which added 600 million acres to the U.S. (known as the Louisiana Territories).

The Fair showcased the latest advancements in technology, introduced new foods and invited visitors to explore the world through exhibits from over 60 countries and 43 states (out of 45 at the time). St. Louis, Missouri and the U.S. government spent $15 million to put on this dazzling spectacle, which covered over 1,000 acres and included more than 1,500 buildings—the largest fair in history at the time.

While most of the buildings were torn down, the influence that the Fair had on the city—and our architecture—can still be felt today.

A Fairy Tale Park In The Heart of St. Louis   

Forest Park hosted The World’s Fair in 1904 and still enchants visitors today. The “#1 City Park in the United States” (as voted by readers of USA Today) offers something for everyone over its 1,300+ acres, including world-class destinations, experiential green spaces, popular festivals and quiet spaces to picnic and read.

Architecture plays an important role in this city oasis, from the Saint Louis Art Museum (and its sculpture garden) to the statues, monuments and art you’ll find throughout the park. Good design and architecture aren’t just for aesthetics though; they’re part of the landscape inviting visitors to interact and play.

Explore the Anne O’C. Albrecht Nature Playscape to connect with nature and engage your senses. Visit the Jewel Box to soak in its magnificent Art Deco design, inside and out. While this stunning building made mostly from glass is surrounded by nature, the inside is a tranquil, sunlit space where you can enjoy a quiet moment or host a memorable event. (Looking for the perfect wedding venue?!)

Stop and appreciate the eye-catching style of the James S. McDonnell Planetarium before you head inside and kick back for a mesmerizing star show. Stroll through the Saint Louis Zoo for plenty of sights and sounds, from the well-designed exhibits to the animals themselves. Watch sea lions play overhead from the first-of-its-kind underwater viewing tunnel, roam the rugged coastlines of the Penguin & Puffin Coast and take a journey through four continents in Rivers Edge. Architecture plays a role in so much that you see and do, even at the zoo!

The Crown Jewel of the City

When you think of St. Louis, it all starts at the Gateway Arch. This iconic landmark soars 630 feet in the air, making it the tallest man-made monument in the U.S. and tallest arch in the world. As the “Gateway to the West,” we need a stunning front door—and this is it. The Arch is also the tallest monument in the National Park System and one of the newest, which belies its important place in history.

Founded by the National Park Service in 1935, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (known today as the Gateway Arch National Park) was designed to honor Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a transcontinental United States. After extensive planning and several updates, the Gateway Arch was completed in 1965.

Along with being a striking example of mid-century modern design, the Arch tells the story of the diverse people who helped shape the Saint Louis Region and our country while honoring their courage, bravery and pioneering spirit. On the west end of the Park, the Old Courthouse showcases mid-19th century federal architecture.

Welcome to the Neighborhood

As you explore our one-of-a-kind city, you’ll notice a variety of architectural styles across our neighborhoods. Whether you’re a fan of Flounder houses, Italianate row houses, Second Empire architecture or other styles, we’ve got something that will catch your eye.

The architectural style of a house or building can help tell its story, including when it was built and what traditions or cultures influenced the design. Walking our neighborhoods transports you back in time to learn about our city’s history, showcasing our roots while you’re experiencing vibrant city living.

Download the Saint Louis Downtown Walking Tour app to lose yourself in our architectural wonders without getting lost, or explore our history where it happened on a fun and creative walking or bus tour with the Missouri Historical Society. Looking for a different view? Be a roadie and experience our architectural attractions while cycling St. Louis with City Cycling Tours, or learn about historically significant European-inspired architecture while tasting your way through our unique neighborhoods with EAT Saint Louis Food Tours.     

As the “Gateway to the West,” St. Louis has long drawn travelers from all over the country, whether by river, covered wagon or on foot. Today, we’re a vibrant destination attracting visitors and residents from all over the world who are looking for adventure (and eye-catching architecture). It’s time to follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, and plan your expedition to write your own tale!