AMERICAN ICONS

10 Surprising Facts About America's Most Iconic Monuments


Published on March 31, 2024


Credit: Luke Stackpoole

From the rugged cliffs of the Grand Canyon to the stoic majesty of the Statue of Liberty, America's cultural and natural landscape tells the story of a nation shaped by diversity, resilience, and innovation. These landmarks stand as testaments to human achievement and the magnificence of the natural world.

Join us on a journey to explore some of the craziest facts behind 10 of America's greatest monuments!

1

Grand Canyon: Crazy Weather

Credit: Omer Nezih Gerek

Carved into layers of rock by the mighty Colorado River over millions of years, the Grand Canyon is proof of the breathtaking power of nature. Stretching 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and over a mile deep, this geological marvel is so intricate that it ends up creating its own weather - with temperature and humidity varying wildly between different points within the canyon.

2

Statue Of Liberty: The Color Of Freedom

Credit: Guilherme Bustamante

A symbol of freedom and democracy, the Statue of Liberty has welcomed immigrants and visitors to the shores of New York Harbor since 1886. Standing 305 feet tall, Lady Liberty holds a torch of enlightenment and a tablet inscribed with the date of the Declaration of Independence. Curiously, it wasn’t always green. When it was first assembled, it displayed a stunning reddish brown due to its thin patina of copper. However, as years passed by, the copper skin oxidized and turned into the bluish-green we know today.

3

Mount Rushmore: An Interrupted Legacy

Credit: Ronda Darby

Carved into the granite face of the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore features the sculpted heads of four iconic American presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. This colossal tribute to democracy is one of America’s most famous landmarks, and it attracts millions of visitors each year, but did you know that the monument is far from finished according to its original plan? The project was prematurely halted in 1941 due to the death of Gutzon Borglum - its leading sculptor - but it was intended for the carved figures to be sculpted down to the waist.

4

Yellowstone National Park: A Sleeping Giant

Credit: Lucas

America's first national park, Yellowstone, is a wonderland of geothermal features, with over 500 active geysers and hot springs. Designated as a national park by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, it is nestled in the vicinity of the Yellowstone supervolcano, experiencing nearly 3,000 earthquakes annually. It also boasts diverse wildlife, from grizzly bears to bison, roaming across its vast wilderness.

5

Golden Gate Bridge: The Hollywood Star

Credit: Joseph Barrientos

Spanning the entrance to San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge is considered an engineering marvel and an iconic symbol of the City by the Bay. Opened in 1937, it stretches 1.7 miles long and stands a maximum of 746 feet above the water. Its distinctive "International Orange" color was specifically created for the bridge, ensuring visibility through the bay's frequent fog. Beyond its engineering feats, the Golden Gate Bridge has also become a cinematic icon, featuring prominently in dozens of films, further cementing its place in popular culture.

6

Independence Hall: Saved By The Bell

Credit: Ernie Journeys

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Independence Hall is where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and signed. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers visitors a glimpse into America's early beginnings. However, the historic building wasn’t always so revered. In 1816, it was almost demolished as part of a real estate development project, and the city of Philadelphia only intervened at the last possible moment, purchasing the entire block to prevent its destruction.

7

Lincoln Memorial: A Symbol Of Power And Democracy

Credit: Andy Feliciotti

Honoring the 16th President of the United States, the Lincoln Memorial is a neoclassical masterpiece located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Within the memorial’s marble columns, a towering statue of Abraham Lincoln seats majestically, overseeing visitors with solemnity. Interestingly, Lincoln's arms rest over representations of Roman fasces , an ancient symbol of power, both expressing his strength and authority and associating the monument with the imperial theme of the Washington Mall.

8

Antelope Canyon: A Beautiful Trap

Credit: Fudo Jahic

Carved by wind and water over millions of years, Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon located on Navajo land in Arizona. Known for its mesmerizing light beams and swirling sandstone formations, this natural wonder is a photographer's dream. But despite its serene appearance, Antelope Canyon demands respect and caution, as the same processes that created it are still active. During the monsoon season, swiftly rising water levels can flood the narrow passageways in a matter of seconds, and official tours are required to adhere to strict safety protocols.

9

Empire State Building: A Harbor In The Sky

Credit: Emiliano Bar

An enduring symbol of New York City, the Empire State Building is considered one of the best examples of Art Deco architecture in the world. Completed in 1931, the iconic skyscraper offers panoramic views of the city from its famous observation decks. Originally, it was designed to have a dirigible mooring mast, but only one airship ever docked at the skyscraper - and for only three minutes!

10

Niagara Falls: The Day The Falls Stopped

Credit: Rikin Katyal

Straddling the border between the United States and Canada, Niagara Falls is a breathtaking cascade of water that attracts millions of visitors each year. While its natural beauty is unparalleled, Niagara Falls has also witnessed remarkable human intervention. Amazingly, during the summer of 1969, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers diverted the majority of the water away from the American side of the falls, halting the majestic spectacle for several months. This unprecedented action was undertaken to assess the effect of erosion on the submerged rock face, while providing a unique opportunity to study the geological processes behind the iconic waterfall.


CRAZY COUTURE

Take A Look At These 10 Wild Fashion Trends In History


Published on March 31, 2024


Credit: Birmingham Museums Trust

Do you meticulously plan your outfits? Or are you the seize-the-first-thing-you-find type, prioritizing comfort over glamor? Whatever your style strategy, there's no denying the fundamental role that clothing plays in our daily lives .

From ancient times to the present day, fashion has been an integral part of human expression . Yet, in the ever-evolving world of style, some trends stand out for their, let's say, rarity.

Even if you think you've seen it all, you won't believe these 10 crazy fashion trends that reigned at different times in history.

1

Bliauts

Credit: Tomas Robertson

Loose sleeves can be a problem. They may get in the way while you use your keyboard, or worse, dive into your soup while trying to get dinner. If you find this unbearable, imagine wearing a coat with sleeves that reach all the way to the floor . These garments existed, and they were called bliauts .

In the 12th and 13th centuries , people wore these thin coats with snug waists. Notably, the sleeves started narrow and widened from the elbow, eventually reaching the ground.

Of course, this attire wasn't just a fashion choice; it also spoke about social status . The extensive sleeves were a luxury enjoyed by those exempt from manual labor.

Credit: Kalon

2

Chopines

Do you think today's high heels are a pain? If so, maybe you're not ready for the wild world of chopines . These footwear, popular from the 15th to 17th centuries , were platform shoes that could reach an incredible 20 inches in height! Yes, you read it right; they were practically stilts.

But why? Well, these platforms served a practical purpose: to protect clothing from the water and mud that filled the streets at the time.

But they were not just about practicality; they were also a proclamation: The higher the platforms, the higher the social status of the wearer.

3

Ruffs

Credit: Europeana

Have you ever spotted those cone-shaped collars on dogs trying to keep their paws off a wound? Those have a nickname; they're called " Elizabethan collars ." It's not because dogs suddenly developed a taste for fashion. There's another reason behind the name.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the days of Queen Elizabeth I of England , upper-class people wore these large neck ruffs every single day . These things actually looked like something out of a vet's office.

Made of linen, neck ruffs were very popular in Europe at the time. If you've ever caught a period movie, you've likely seen them stealing the scene. It seems that discomfort was a symbol of abundance.

4

Huge wigs

Credit: Cristina Gottardi

Before minimalism swept in, bringing simple, lightweight clothing to give our bodies a break, fashion was very different. Exaggeration was the key.

And it wasn't just about clothes and shoes; hair also played a starring role. In the 18th century, huge white or gray wigs stole the spotlight. And, in case you hadn't already guessed, they were made of human or animal hair.

The taller and bulkier the wig, the more elevated its owner's social situation. Marge Simpson would have been a sensation back then.

Sure, our computers and cell phones might give our backs a hard time, but the neck issues these 18th-century people faced would've been on a whole other level.

5

Mercury hats

Credit: Johnny Briggs

Would you believe us if we told you that, some centuries ago, hat-making was a risky job? Crafting hats is not a simple task; it takes talent. But in the 18th and 19th centuries , this job reached a new level of difficulty, as it involved the use of mercury!

Mercury played a central role in treating fur, the primary material used to craft the felt hats of that era.

As these hats gained popularity, so did the unfortunate rise of mercury poisoning , giving birth to the "mad hatter" phenomenon. Both hatters and the gentlemen who sported these accessories were unwittingly taking this bizarre risk.

6

Crinolines

Credit: Birmingham Museums Trust

Have you ever wondered what it'd be like to wear metal clothing? Sounds futuristic, right? Well, you might be surprised to know that in the mid-19th century, women wore a sort of metal structure beneath their dresses.

These garments, known as crinolines , were originally made of horsehair and cotton, but they changed their composition over the years. Eventually, they became these metal frames called steel cage crinolines.

That's right, women of the time adopted these heavy metal hoops, not only burdening themselves with extra weight but also sacrificing comfort along the way.

7

Lizards as accessories

Credit: Mark Stoop

If you thought petticoats made of metal hoops were a bit much, just wait, because the 19th century has more to offer!

Towards the end of that century , a fashion craze emerged that was as wild as it was controversial: wearing tiny live lizards as accessories .

Although it sounds like a joke, it was a real (and cruel) fad. Women would casually attach these reptiles to their clothes, and the little animals would stroll around, holding onto the fabric as part of the outfit . This peculiar trend had discomfort written all over it!

8

Paper dresses

Credit: Olga Thelavart

Fashion is as fluid as a river, constantly changing. Since the 20th century, this characteristic has become even more dynamic, giving rise to some trends that didn't last long decades or centuries but were more like quick stylistic experiments of a few months.

That is the case of paper dresses , which had their moment of popularity during the 1960s. Driven by the avant-garde spirit and the search for novelty , these dresses were accessible to everyone, which marks a difference from the elitist fashions we have seen so far.

In addition, they were disposable , a sharp contrast to today's fashion scene, where it's all about recycling and giving new life to the old.

9

Sagging jeans

Credit: Ricardo Gomez Angel

Oh, the fashion choices of the 90s and early 2000s. We thought we were rocking it, but a glance at the red carpet of that time is enough to understand how wrong we were.

The turn-of-the-century look revolutionized style in the Western hemisphere, with pop and hip-hop music beating everywhere. This type of music brought with it a rather peculiar style.

Sagging jeans were worn mostly by rappers and other male urban artists. These pants weren't just oversized; they were colossal, hanging so low they'd purposefully reveal the wearer's underwear.

While many argue it was a protest against the rigid norms of fashion, let's be real: they weren't exactly easy on the eyes.

10

Bleached eyebrows

Credit: Rune Enstad

Just a couple of years ago, fashion pulled another unexpected twist. Hair took the spotlight. However, this time, it was all about facial hair.

Eyebrows play a crucial role in shaping your look. That's why, since around 2010, many women and men have adopted the habit of letting their eyebrows grow, meticulously combing and grooming them.

Fast forward to 2020, and this eyebrow trend took a sharp turn. Suddenly, it was in vogue to bleach the eyebrows, resulting in an unnatural look.

This trend had already been around during the extravagant 90s but recently returned as a friendly reminder that not every style comeback is a hit.

Looking for an extra scoop of literary fun?

Learn more with our Word of the day

infrangible

/ɪnˈfrændʒəbəl/