American Landmarks That Almost Weren’t Made

It’s hard to imagine America without its iconic landmarks including the White House  (page 3) or the Statue of Liberty (page 11). Both of those landmarks almost didn’t exist among others across the country. Keep reading to learn which landmarks almost weren’t made, ahead.

Mount Rushmore

60-foot tall Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore | David McNew/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Sensors on the monument track any movement so preservation steps can be taken immediately, according to the National Park Service.

Gutzon Borglum’s vision for Mount Rushmore didn’t come to fruition until 1998, according to National Parks Traveler. Borglum died during construction in 1941, according to Reader’s Digest. He never got to finish “carving out a secret room to store sensitive historical documents.”

Hint: Only a handful of people know where the time capsule is located.

Mount Rushmore (continued)

A tourist takes a picture of Mount Rushmore National Memorial from outside the park on October 1, 2013 in Keystone, South Dakota. Mount Rushmore and all other national parks were closed today after congress failed to pass a temporary funding bill, forcing about 800,000 federal workers off the job. A bulletin issued by the Department of Interior states, 'Effective immediately upon a lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service will take all necessary steps to close and secure national park facilities and grounds in order to suspend all activities ...Day use visitors will be instructed to leave the park immediately...' (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Mount Rushmore | Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: The top secret door is supposedly behind Abraham Lincoln’s head, according to Reader’s Digest.

In 1998, “text from the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, along with a biography of Borglum and the story of the presidents, were sealed in a teakwood box, then placed in a titanium vault, and finally sealed shut,” according to National Parks Traveler.

Hint: When the White House got its official name.

The White House

The White House in Washington, D.C.

The White House | jtomason/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: The White House didn’t get its nickname until 1901.

The White House didn’t get its name until 1901 when President Theodore Roosevelt officially named the building, according to Whitehouse.gov. Before that, the White House had been known as “the “President’s Palace,” the “President’s House,” and the “Executive Mansion.”

Hint: Pens and selfie sticks aren’t allowed on White House tours.

The White House (continued)

White House security barrier

A White House security barrier | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: The White House is the only private residence of a head of state that the public can visit for free, according to BuzzFeed.

Approximately 100,000 people visit the White House on a monthly basis, according to The New York Times. Visitors must book tours at least three weeks in advance but most schedule visits months before, according to the National Parks Service.

Hint: President George Washington nixed plans for his memorial but it eventually happened.

Washington Monument

Washington DC, USA skyline

The D.C. skyline | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Plans for the monument began before Washington became president, according to History.com.

“After Washington became president, he scrapped the plans for his memorial, as federal government funds were tight and he didn’t want to use public money for the project,” according to History.com. After his death, a small group of people formed the Washington National Monument Society to raise money for a memorial. Finally, under President Ulysses S. Grant, the monument came to be.

Hint: Nearly one million people visit the Washington Monument every year.

Washington Monument (continued)

National Mall in Washington DC

The National Mall | AlbertPego/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Robert Mills’ design for the monument looked much different from what we know as the Washington Monument.

Today the Washington Monument is one of the most iconic landmarks in Washington, D.C., and the country. After the 9/11 attacks, security measures increased, majorly decreasing the number of visitors who can go inside the monument, according to The New York Times.

Hint: A tunnel almost made this city famous, not a bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge | Lucky-photographer/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Never meant to be permanent, the bridge’s color, ‘International Orange,’ is sold by Sherwin Williams, according to Mental Floss.

A “1932 proposal called for the center of the structure to be submerged in the San Francisco Bay allowing ships to safely pass above,” according to the Daily Mail. The “boat tunnel” idea belonged to inventor, Cleve F. Shaffer. Vehicle deceleration into the tunnel caused the idea to be rejected because gridlock would’ve occurred.

Hint: Engineers were so concerned with safety, they used a device seen at the circus.

Golden Gate Bridge (continued)

A cruise ship sails under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge | johnrandallalves/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: The construction of the bridge had to be approved by the War Department because they owned the land on both sides of the bridge, according to Mental Floss.

During the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, safety was a top concern. It was the first construction site that required workers to wear hard hats, according to History.com. As a safety precaution, a net costing $130,000 was installed underneath the bridge, according to Mental Floss. The net saved the lives of 19 men. Although it couldn’t save everyone. A total of 11 people died during the construction of the bridge.

Hint: An argument over color almost ended the construction of this New York City landmark.

Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum | tinnaporn/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: The museum is one of the newest buildings to ever receive landmark distinction, according to the Daily News. It became a landmark 31 years after it opened.

Early during the museum’s construction, the designer, Frank Lloyd Wright, wanted the museum to be red, which he described as “the color of creation.” “Red is a color which displeases S. R. G. as much as it does me,” Hilla Rebay, Guggenheim’s art adviser wrote to Wright in a letter, according to Reader’s Digest.

Hint: The museum throws sleepovers and puts ‘obscene’ photographs on display.

Guggenheim Museum (continued)

Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum | Jean-Christophe BENOIST/Wikimedia Commons

  • Fun fact: The museum was first painted tan instead of light gray.

Even though the museum opened to tough criticism, 16,000 people visited the museum the day it opened, according to the Daily News. Today, it’s known for creating provocative exhibits including “The Art of the Motorcycle,” which featured 114 classic bikes. The museum also displayed a picture of a 10-year-old nude Brooke Shields. An exhibit at the Tate Modern was shut down, which featured the same photo, for being obscene.

Hint: This iconic landmark almost ended up in Egypt.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty | Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Employees of the National Park Service have been caring for the Statue of Liberty since 1933.

The Statue of Liberty was supposed to be located on the Suez Canal, according to Reader’s Digest. The French sculptor who created the statue, Auguste Bartholdi, originally named the statue, Egypt (or Progress) Brings Light to Asia, according to the National Park Service. Thankfully for the U.S., Egypt turned down the idea for the statue.

Hint: Millions of people visit the Statue of Liberty annually.

Statue of Liberty (continued)

New York

The Statue of Liberty | Spyarm/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: The statue became a national monument in 1924.

Approximately 3.5 million people visit Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, according to CNN. The waters around the island and the statue are a restricted water zone. The statue’s formal name is “Liberty Enlightening the World.”

Hint: This New York City landmark almost got demolished.

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: It’s the largest indoor theater in the world.

Deemed a financial failure in the 1970s and slated for demolition in 1978, preservationists saved Radio City Music Hall, according to Vanity Fair. The theater is a prime example of art deco style. Since the theater opened in 1932, its welcomed more than 300 million visitors.

Hint: The theater is known for hosting movie screenings and concerts.

Radio City Music Hall (continued)

Radio City Music Hall at night time

Radio City Music Hall | TarekAwad/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: “John D. Rockefeller Jr. sent his team on a cruise to Europe to look at the theaters abroad for inspiration,” according to AM New York.

When the theater first opened, movie screenings were held there. Today, the venue is known for hosting concerts. They have on file autographs of every celebrity who has performed there in a total of 13 guest books.

Hint: Grand Central almost got torn down.

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central station

Grand Central Station | Andrius Kaziliunas/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: Grand Central it is the largest train station in the world by the number of tracks and number of platforms, according to the Telegraph.

In 1968, the owners of Grand Central proposed to “sell the development rights to a company that would tear down part of the space and build a tower,” according to Vanity Fair. But a year earlier it became a landmark, causing a lawsuit that eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court upheld Grand Central’s protection under the Landmark Law.

Hint: Many people go to the station to not board a train.

Grand Central Terminal (continued)

Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal | thisnight/iStock/Getty Images

  • Fun fact: More than 750,000 people go through Grand Central a day, according to the Telegraph.

Approximately 10,000 people stop at Grand Central for lunch and don’t board a train, according to the Telegraph. While there, they may admire the mural of the Mediterranean sky — which is actually in reverse — on their way to have oysters at the oldest restaurant in the building (the oyster bar opened in 1913).

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Read more: 10 Famous U.S. Landmarks With a Surprisingly Controversial History

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