Architectural Marvels: 42 Captivating Facts About Iconic Structures

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1Tallest Harlem Building

Tallest Harlem Building

The tallest building in Harlem, Upper Manhattan, is a 19 story office building completed in 1973. The building has been criticized as a "killer building" from the urban renewal movement of the 1960s that "disfigured" the neighborhood, and as an example of mediocre government architecture.


2. Six months after building a $680,000 custom house with an ocean view, Missouri residents Mark and Brenda Voss found out it was built on the wrong lot.


3. Before the Washington Monument was completed, the tallest structure in the United States was the 234 foot tall Phoenix Shot Tower, where molten lead was dropped from a platform at the top of the tower through a sieve into a vat of cold water at the bottom, forming perfect spheres of shot.


4. The "Loony Gas Building" was the name given to an old Standard Oil plant in 1924 after every single man who worked there was hospitalized for insanity in which 5 people died. The plant was manufacturing a new, breakthrough product named leaded gasoline additive.


5. The Iroquois Theater in Chicago was billed as "Absolutely Fireproof" in advertisements when it opened. It lasted 37 days before being destroyed in what is still the deadliest single-building fire in U.S. history, leaving 602 dead and 250 injured.


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6Empire State Building

Empire State Building

The Empire State Building generates more revenue from the observation deck than all the commercial tenants in the remaining 101 floors combined.


7. The Pentagon building covers 6.5 million square feet (2 times the Empire State Building) and is occupied by 23,000 people, making it the biggest office building in the world. Also, it was designed so that no point in the building is more than a 10-minute walk from another point. Construction took just 16 months.


8. The Aurora Ice Hotel in Alaska was made entirely of ice. Ice walls, ceiling, beds, bar, barstools, even martini glasses were made of ice. It was closed by the fire marshall for not having smoke detectors.


9. St Paul's Cathedral in London can be seen from King Henry's Mound, 16 km (10 miles) away. No building obstructing this view is allowed to be built by law.


10. The Roman Pantheon built in 118 A.D., is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.


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11Tokyo Sky Tree

Tokyo Sky Tree

The tallest free-standing tower in the world, the Tokyo Sky Tree, had its final height chosen solely because of wordplay; several numbers were considered because of their alternate meanings, they ended up choosing 634 meters for "Musashi."


12. The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be scrapped after 20 years. It only survived because the military started using it as a radio tower, intercepting crucial military transmissions during World War 1.


13. The Sydney Opera House actually has terrible acoustics. Edo de Waart, the former chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, once threatened to boycott the building. There is a $202 million project underway to renovate and improve the acoustics.


14. After 10 years of effort and $40 million, the Leaning Tower of Pisa stopped moving in 2001 for the first time in its 800-year history. The tower is now expected to stay stable for at least 200 years.


15. The Pagoda at Horyuji is the oldest wooden building on the planet. It contains some timbers that came from trees felled around 600 A.D.


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16Japanese buildings

Japanese buildings

Traditional Japanese buildings do not use nails or glue. Instead, timbers are connected by elaborate dovetail joints.


17. A small, single-story building (Corporation Trust Center) at 1209 North Orange Street in Wilmington, Delaware is the registered home of over 6,500 corporations and 200,000 businesses, such as Google, American Airlines, Apple, GM, Coca-Cola, KFC, Verizon Internet Services, and Deutsche Bank.


18. The Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona has been under construction for over 130 years and it is not expected to be completed at least until 2026, according to the earliest estimates.


19. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is actually just as wide as it is tall. It is 630 feet in height and 630 feet in width. It is also the tallest man-made monument in the United States.


20. The Parthenon is in such bad condition because occupying Turkish forces used it as a powder magazine which exploded when hit by a Venetian shell in 1687.


21Pentagon Bathrooms

Pentagon Bathrooms

The Pentagon was constructed with twice the number of bathrooms needed for the number of employees because segregated Virginia at the time required separate facilities for "white" and "colored" persons.


22. In 2007, the First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church purchased a $150,000 Bentley, neglected to pay their $12,000 water bill, and defaulted on their $1.5 million mortgages. The church was struck by lightning and the subsequent fire completely destroyed the building.


23. The Walkie-Talkie building in London has unintentionally melted cars and changed weather patterns due to its concave design, which focuses a beam of light 6 times brighter than sunlight and heats the pavement to nearly 250°F at certain spots.


24. The world's thinnest house is just 4 feet wide. It is set between two buildings in Warsaw, Poland. The home is 33 feet in length and about 30 feet tall.


25. In a competition to build the world's tallest building, the architect of the Chrysler Building secretly built it with a 125 feet long spire inside of it. When his competitor’s building was completed, the spire was pushed up through the building making it taller by 119 feet.

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