EAST ST. LOUIS – Rising majestically from the landscape of East St. Louis, Illinois, the Gateway Geyser is a powerful testament to human ingenuity and ambition. This 630-feet tall water fountain, one of the tallest in the world, is an iconic centerpiece of the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park and a cherished symbol of the city’s relationship with its neighboring metropolis, St. Louis, Missouri.
The Gateway Geyser was first unveiled in 1995 as part of an extensive initiative to rejuvenate and beautify the East St. Louis waterfront. Its inauguration marked a new chapter for the city, symbolizing its transformative journey and adding a unique feature to its skyline that rivaled the grandeur of the Gateway Arch located just across the Mississippi River.
This man-made marvel was made possible through intricate engineering and design. Its remarkable height is achieved by three 800-horsepower pumps that can propel 7,500 gallons of water per minute straight up into the sky at a speed of 250 feet per second. When the wind speed is less than 4 mph, the Geyser can reach its maximum height of 630 feet, equal to that of the iconic Gateway Arch.
The Gateway Geyser’s operation mimics the cycles of its natural counterparts. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Geyser erupts daily at noon for 10 minutes, displaying an awe-inspiring show of power and elegance. These exhibitions are subject to favorable wind, weather, and drought conditions. During the colder months, from September through May, the Geyser enters a period of hibernation, its grand display pausing until the arrival of warmer weather.
The Geyser’s existence and the surrounding park owes much to the vision and dedication of Malcolm W. Martin, a St. Louis native, and veteran of World War II. Martin was a local lawyer, philanthropist, and community leader who played a pivotal role in the creation of the Gateway Geyser. He was instrumental in the formation of the Gateway Center of Metropolitan St. Louis, which worked tirelessly for four decades to protect the land from commercial development.
Martin dreamed of extending the Memorial Park to encompass both sides of the river, honoring the original vision of Eero Saarinen, the architect of the Gateway Arch. This dream was realized in part when, in 2005, the Gateway Center transferred the title of the Gateway Geyser and over 30 acres of land to the Metro East Park and Recreation District (MEPRD).
Today, the Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park is a serene green space housing not only the Gateway Geyser but also the Mississippi River Overlook. This 40-foot tall structure offers unparalleled views of the Gateway Arch, the Mississippi River, and the St. Louis skyline. It’s a favorite spot for photographers and visitors seeking to capture the majesty of the city’s skyline and the towering Geyser.
The Gateway Geyser stands as a tribute to East St. Louis’s resilience, ambition, and unity. With each eruption, it celebrates the enduring bond between East St. Louis and St. Louis, reaching skyward in a display of strength and aspiration. It embodies the city’s past, present, and future, symbolizing its transformative journey and serving as a beacon of hope for the future.
The Gateway Geyser is more than a man-made marvel; it’s a testament to human creativity, a symbol of regional identity, and a beacon of civic pride. It is a monument to the city’s vision for growth, the fulfillment of a shared dream, and a celebration of a community’s ability to rise and thrive.