America the Beautiful! It’s called a Melting Pot for a great reason, and there are many architectural wonders that showcase collaboration and inspiration from various sources. Some of the list-makers are iconic, while some you may never have heard of.
1. Haiku Stairs / Stairway to Heaven, Oahu, Hawaii
While “Haʻikū” may make you think of poetry, this is anything but. In fact, the Haiku Ladder is named such because of the Kahili flower. You may have seen this glorious hiking trail on Instagram. The 3,922 steps bring you across the Ko’olau mountain range in Oahu. Climbing the stairs was actually illegal until recently. The steps were closed to the public in 1987 but that didn’t stop tourists and locals alike from using the stairway. On April 27, 2020, a unanimous vote transferred the stairs to the city with the intention of turning it into a paid attraction.
2. Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
Ah, St. Louis. Personally, I love this city. Completed in 1965, this 630-foot monument is the world’s tallest arch. If you’ve ever been to the top of the arch you know the amazing views you get of the Mississippi River and of St. Louis from the Observation Room. The tram to the top is even a little fun (as long as you’re not claustrophobic). The Gateway Arch is the centerpiece of Gateway Arch National Park and is recognized as an iconic American landmark.
3. Space Needle, Seattle, Washington
The iconic Space Needle was created for the 1962 World’s Fair and at one point was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. The observation deck gives you incredible panoramic views of Seattle, the Puget Sound, Elliott Bay, The Cascade Mountains, The Olympic Mountains, and Mount Rainier. Recent renovations to the Space Needle include an all-glass floor to the restaurant.
4. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
One of the most internationally recognized landmarks is the Golden Gate Bridge. Did you know that the bridge’s official color is International Orange? It was chosen to promote the bridge’s visibility in foggy conditions and because it compliments the natural surroundings. Upon opening in 1937 it was the tallest and longest suspension bridge in the world (4,200 feet long, 746 feet tall).
5. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Truly magnificent 60-foot-high carvings by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum, nested in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln were chosen to represent America’s birth, growth, development, and preservation. More than two million visitors trek to Mount Rushmore National Memorial Park to view the “Shrine of Democracy” each year.
6. Arcosanti, Mayer, Arizona
Arcology – architecture and ecology – was a concept that Italian-American architect Paolo Soleri created. Arcosanti, an experimental town, began construction in central Arizona in the 1970s with the idea of creating ecologically sound human habitats, minimizing destruction of the earth while still creating beautiful architecture. Today it’s mostly used
7. US Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, Colorado
Designed by Walter Netsch, the Cadet Chapel of the United States Air Force Academy is modernist architecture at it’s finest. The building is comprised of 100 identical tetrahedrons which are spaced a foot apart, and the gaps are a beautiful mosaic of colored glass, creating an incredibly unique view. Its seventeen spires resemble a stack of jets soaring upwards and are quite breathtaking. The Cadet Chapel has two main levels, featuring different chapels and rooms for different faiths. You will find a Protestant Chapel, Catholic Chapel, Jewish Chapel, Muslim Chapel, Buddhist Chapel, Falcon Circle, and All-Faiths Room, all with their own entrances.
8. The Guardian Building, Detroit, Michigan
In the downtown financial district of Detroit lies the Guardian Building (formerly the Union Trust Building), an art-deco and Mayan Revival inspired design by architect Wirt C. Rowland. The Guardian Building was nicknamed “The Cathedral of Finance” due to the luxurious interior and vivid colors. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark since 1989. The pictures don’t do it justice, it’s truly something that should be viewed in-person!
9. The Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina
The largest privately-owned home in the United States is in gorgeous Asheville North Carolina. The Biltmore Estate is still owned by George Vanderbilt’s descendants. The mansion itself is 178,926 square feet of floor space and there are 125,000 acres of grounds that include farms, fishing ponds, and winery. The first U.S. Forestry Education Program, the Biltmore Forest School, was established in 1898 on the Biltmore Estate grounds.
10. Vessel, New York, New York
Manhattan has boasted many interesting things to see over the years… but Vessel is a fairly new one. Vessel (which is only a temporary name for this structure) opened to the public on March 15, 2019 as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project. It’s a 150-foot-tall, 16-story structure with many staircases connecting the buildings of Hudson Yards. From the top of the structure you get a great view of the Hudson River!
11. Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts
The birthplace of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, Trinity Church is the project that established architect Henry Hobson Richardson’s reputation. After the original Trinity Church of Boston burned in the Great Boston Fire of 1872, Richardson built this iconic landmark. A heartwarming Boston Tradition is to hear the Choirs of Trinity singing the Candelight Carols service in December. It’s a free event, so why not plan to attend?