To recognize a landmark is to be able to navigate through a city, drive across a country or sail on a sea. Landmarks can direct, attract, indicate, and symbolize an area, established to mark the boundaries of a kingdom or estate in the 16th century. City skylines can be well-known landmarks; who can forget the shape of the Space Needle in Seattle or the height of the Sears tower on the Chicago skyline? Landmarks can also be of a purely natural state, like the great Redwood trees of California or Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. In United States, there are several famous American landmarks, common backdrops to anything authentically American, that show the grit and resolve of the American people, that almost never were.
Statue of Liberty
Most think this beautiful lady was a gift to the US from France. However, she was not a gift and was paid for by fundraising from a French sculptor himself, named Auguste Bartholdi in the 19th century. Bartholdi originally envisioned and planned the statue as a lighthouse for the Suez Canal, robed and offering light to Asia, crafted after he met with the leader of Egypt during the 1867 World Fair in Paris. However, after the plans were drawn up, Egypt declined on the previous agreement. Bartholdi, now with a dream, needed to find a buyer for his ambitious sculpture. Although the US considered many locations, she is now at home in the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty now sits as a gatekeeper to New York City, welcoming all that come to her feet.
Golden Gate Bridge
Before the “ugly” bridge that connects San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean was ever built, there were doubts that drove engineers to wonder if the strait would even tolerate the connection. The fogs were blinding, the winds were unbalancing and the water was over 300 feet deep. What would hold up to the elements? Engineer Joseph Strauss didn’t let the destructive elements, the devastating public opinion or the quickly emptying government coffers deter him from planning a modern marvel of a bridge. Debuted on in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge until 1981 and the tallest bridge until 1993. In its first 75 years it had been closed for traffic only 3 times due to weather.
The Washington Monument was started in the 18th century by Congress even before George Washington was elected our first president. The monument was still meant to be dedicated to Washington, just as a commander-in-chief of the Revolutionary War. They didn’t get very far on the structure and ironically, it was Washington who stopped progress when funds were running short. The plans were revisited often throughout history but weren’t progressed until the 100th anniversary of America’s founding, when Ulysses S. Grant was inspired to begin again. For a quick 5 years it was the tallest man-made structure until the Eiffel Tower made its debut in 1889.
These landmarks are iconic to the American people, as they completely describe the American way of life. With a little determination, patience, help, opportunity, and perspective, the landmarks of America provide a glimpse into each patriot’s pursuit of happiness. Without these landmarks, we wouldn’t recognize America as it is today. But perhaps the American people taking advantage of these amazing landmarks is what makes these landmarks truly American.