Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Most Iconic American Monuments? Time For Some Needling


Our morning e-mail reveals that Smarter Travel has compiled yet another list, this one of America's Most Iconic Monuments.

America? That would include a lot of countries but it turns out they're referring to the United States of America.

Of the 10 monuments, we still haven't seen the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Bunker Hill Monument in Boston, or the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. And we haven't even heard of Chicago's Cloud Gate sculpture.

They really opened the door with the Golden Gate Bridge. Although we agree that's a fitting choice, they justify its inclusion as a monument in part because it's listed as one of the Seven Wonders of The Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Well, New York City's Empire State Building is on the same list, and had already come to mind before we'd read it.

As far as iconic, we'd have to add Seattle's Space Needle. When it was built for the 1962 World's Fair, it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River, at a current height of 605 feet to the top of the antenna spire, although it's been dwarfed since then by buildings, as well as by copy-cat towers in other parts of the world, including Toronto's CN Tower, standing almost exactly three times as high at 1,815.4 feet and on the civil engineers' list.

The inspiration just had to have been the Eiffel Tower, built as an entrance arch for the 1889 World's fair to a whopping 1,050 feet (at least after the 1957 installation of a radio antenna).

Years ago, we read a critic's comment that the Space Needle, although dwarfed by later towers around the world, was the first such modern structure, and that its lines and height make it the most aesthetically appealing in relation to the city it overlooks.

We think so too. We'd pick the Space Needle over that Chicago sculpture any day of the week.

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