Top 10 Incredible Architectural Wonders in the USA

The culturally diverse country of the United States can best be viewed through its varied architecture – from the innovating to the modern, from the traditional to the eclectic, the country is home to beautiful and breathtaking architecture. The saying goes that the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder – while opinion may differ, here we present what we consider to be the top 10 architectural wonders in the USA.

1: Empire State Building, New York

Empire State Building, New York

The name of the iconic Empire State Building has been derived from the nickname of the city of New York, the Empire State. Designed by William Lamb, an architect at the Shreve, Lamb & Harmon firm, this historic monument is located on Fifth Avenue between West 33rd and 34th streets in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The roof of this 102 story building stands at the height of 1250 or 381 meters and its total height including its antenna spire is 1454 or 443 meters. Although it has now lost its first rank to other high structures in the world, it was the tallest building when it was built in early 1931 and maintained this status for nearly four decades since its completion until its supremacy was usurped by the original World Trade Center's North Tower in 1970. The Empire State Building is currently the fifth tallest completed skyscraper in the United States and 25th tallest in the world.

Address: 350 5th Ave, New York, NY 10118
Website: www.esbnyc.com

2: San Xavier Del Bac Mission, Arizona

San Xavier Del Bac Mission, Arizona
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Janusz Sobolewski

Another historic monument in the USA, San Xavier Del Bac Mission is actually a church located in the Santa Cruz Valley, 9 miles (14 km) south of Tucson, Arizona. The picturesque white church was founded by Catholic missionary Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Its construction took 14 years - starting in 1783, it was completed in 1797. The church, designed in Spanish Colonial architectural style and built with low-fire clay bricks and mortar, is the oldest standing structure in the state of Arizona. The whole building has a roof of masonry vaults. Once you enter the shrine, you are taken back into authentic 18th century history as you watch the idols and mural paintings reflecting a bygone era. The church still religiously retains its original mission of ministering to the spiritual needs of its parishioners. The Mission San Xavier attracts around 200,000 people annually, and the entry is free of charge.

Address: 1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746

3: The White House, Washington D.C.

The White House, Washington D.C.
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/jasleen_kaur

Situated in Washington D.C, the White House is the official residence and the workplace of the President of the United States. According to American Institute of Architects, it is the second most loved building in the list of "America's Favorite Architecture.” The majestic building was designed by an Irish architect James Hoban on the pattern of the Irish Parliament. It is built with white-painted Aquia Creek sandstone in the Neo-classical style. The construction, starting from 1792, was completed in 1800 when its first occupant, President John Adams moved in and since then every succeeding president of the US has lived here. Thomas Jefferson, who succeeded John Adams next year 1801, added two concealed colonnades and house stables to the White House.

Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500

4: Gateway Arch, Missouri

Gateway Arch, Missouri
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Mobilus In Mobili

A 630 foot-192 meter tall structure, the Gateway Arch, is located in St. Louis in Missouri. It is designed as “an inverted weighted catenary arch,” which, in simple terms, means it is made of a freely suspended flexible chain or a cable in the shape of an arch or a curve. The entire iconic monument is made of 900 tonnes of stainless steel. Designed by Eero Saarinen in 1965, its construction on the west bank of the Mississippi River started on February 12, 1963 and was completed on October 28, 1965. The Arch is ranked the tallest structure in the world and also in the Western Hemisphere. The massive structure, built on 60-foot deep foundations, is extremely strong and stable. It can withstand high winds and earthquakes and is designed in a way that it can sway up to 1 ½ inches in 50-mile per hour wind and can sway maximum up to 18 inches.

Address: 100 Washington Ave, St. Louis, MO 63102

5: The Jefferson Monticello, Virginia

The Jefferson Monticello, Virginia
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Tony Fischer

Although Monticello means "hillock" or "little mountain" in Italian, Thomas Jefferson, who inherited it from his father, used the word to mean Little Mountain and High Mountain based on his reading of Albemarle County Deed Books. Spread over 5,000 acres, the plantation land was located outside Charlottesville, Virginia. Jefferson built a house on the estate and also named it Monticello. It was located at 850 feet high feet summit in Southwest Mountains. He retained the property until 1923, but sold it to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation (TJT), which uses it as a house museum and educational institution. The building was declared a National Historic Landmark and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site 1987. Jefferson’s body, as per his instructions, was laid to rest in Monticello grounds and the place is now known as Monticello Cemetery. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once wrote, “More than any historic home in America, Monticello speaks to me as an expression of the personality of its builder.”

Address: 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902

6: Golden Gate Bridge, California

Golden Gate Bridge, California

Golden Gate Bridge is an internationally acknowledged iconic symbol not only of California, where it is built, but also of the United States. The suspension bridge is one- mile wide and three-mile long channel and links San Francisco peninsula from its norther tip to the Marin County across the strait. The Golden Gate Bridge is believed to be the beautiful and certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world. The orange colored bridge, with its 4200 feet main span, was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1964. Although surpassed by some bridges across the world, it is still the second longest in the United States. It has been designated as one the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The bridge was opened to public on May 27, 1937. The opening celebration lasted a week and over 200,000 people had crossed it either on foot or roller skates until the day before it was opened to vehicular traffic.

Address: Lincoln Boulevard, near Doyle Drive and Fort Point, San Francisco, CA 94129

7: Hoover Dam, Border of Arizona and Nevada

Hoover Dam, Border of Arizona and Nevada

Known earlier as Boulder Dam, Hoover Dam, a concrete arch-gravity structure, is built in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. It is located near Boulder City, Nevada, close to the border of the states of Nevada and Arizona. The construction, started in 1931, was completed on 1st March, 1936, two years ahead of scheduled date despite massive difficulties and Great Depression. The construction involved the use of some unproven technologies, labour of thousands of workers and the loss one hundred lives. The dam was dedicated to the nation by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on September 30, 1935. Currently, Hoover Dam is an important tourist destination and draws approximately a million visitors every year.

Address: Hoover Dam Access Road, Boulder City, NV 89109
Website: www.usbr.gov

8: Seattle Space Needle, Washington

Seattle Space Needle, Washington
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Anupam_ts

Built in Seattle Centre and known as an icon of the city, Space Needle is actually an observation tower. A landmark of the Pacific Northwest, the monument was built specifically for the 1962 World Fair, wherein it attracted more than 2.3 million visitors and its elevators lifted approximately 20,000 people every day. Space Needle is 605 feet tall and 138 feet wide. It is so strong that it can resist winds of up to 200 miles per hour and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude. The building is equipped with 25 lightning rods or lightning conductors to secure it against the impact of lightning strikes. The Seattle Space Needle also has Sky City Restaurant at the height of 500 feet. A rotating observation deck 20 feet above it commands panoramic views not only of the downtown Seattle skyline, but also the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Elliott Bay and several islands surrounding it.

Address: 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109

9: Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Located near Keystone, South Dakota, Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite exterior of Mt. Rushmore. The Memorial features 60 feet tall sculptures of the heads of four presidents of the United States: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The national monument is spread over an area of 1,278.45 acres area. It stands at the height of 5,725 feet above the sea level. The idea of carving the sculptures was conceived by Doane Robinson, a South Dakota historian with the aim to promote tourism in the area. Mount Rushmore Memorial has acquired an iconic status in the country and draws over two million visitors every year.

Address: 13000 S Dakota 244, Keystone, SD 57751
Website: www.nps.gov

10: Washington Monument, Washington D.C.

Washington Monument, Washington D.C.
Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Pedro Szekely

Built on the National Mall in Washington DC, the Washington Monument is an obelisk - a tall four-sided narrow tapering monument like ancient Egyptian pyramids. It was constructed in the memory of George Washington, the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first president of the United States. The memorial is built with marble, granite and bluestone gneiss, a kind of strong rock. Conceived by architect Robert Mills in 1840s, the construction of the monument started in 1848 and concluded in 1888, in 40 years. The work in between was interrupted due to the American Civil War. The monument was officially opened to public on 9th October, 1888. Spanning a height of 554 feet, the historic landmark remained the tallest monument and also the tallest obelisk structure in the world until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower of France overtook it. The monument was damaged by the Virginia earthquake and Hurricane Irene in 2011. It was repaired for 32 months and reopened to the public on May 12, 2014.

Address: 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Website: www.nps.gov

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