5 Things You Didn't Know About US Landmarks
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
Visit the United States’ landmarks and monuments, and they are larger than life and ridiculously more impressive than you can imagine from just seeing photos and images on television.
There’s also more than meets the eye to many of them.
From hidden rooms to underground tunnels to messages embedded in the monuments, here are just five of secrets of U.S. monuments you should know about.
(In no particular order)
1) Mount Rushmore
What you and 3 million visitors a year see is the magnificent six-story busts of four presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt — carved into the stone in South Dakota. What you don’t see is the secret room.
It was originally conceived by sculptor Gutzon Borglum to be quite large; large enough to hold artifacts and pieces of American history. It ended up being much smaller but it’s still right there, behind Abraham Lincoln’s head, a titanium vault that holds biographies of the four U.S. president as well as copies of key documents, including a copy of the Declaration of Independence.
2) Statue of Liberty
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Everybody knows those words of "The New Colossus," a sonnet by poet Emma Lazarus, engraved on a plaque mounted on the Statue of Liberty. Everybody knows the torch she holds in her hand, everybody knows her crown. Do you know about her feet? That’s one sight that few rarely see but if you look closely you will find a broken chain, symbolizing a release from captivity and a step into freedom. The chain disappears beneath the gown of her right foot and reappears in front of her left foot, its end link broken.
3) Grand Central Terminal
President Franklin D. Roosevelt was from Hyde Park, N.Y. about 90 minutes north of New York City. When traveling, even during his presidency, FDR quite often used Track 61. What, you can’t see it on the big message boards at GCT? That’s because publicly it doesn’t exist. The underground track, and a private train car, was used to ferry FDR from the terminal to the Waldorf-Astoria hotel so that the wheelchair-bound President could continue to hide his polio from the general public.
4) Golden Gate Bridge
Quick, name a bridge. Bet you said this one, one of the most iconic in the world since being completed in 1937 to connect San Francisco and Marin County. But here’s a little secret you might not have known. The reddish color of the bridge is actually known as International Orange, and International Orange was actually just a primer paint. But as the bridge began to take shape, its architect found that the color blended in with the natural surroundings and kept it that way.
5) Lincoln Memorial
Ever really look at the Lincoln Memorial? Like, really look at it? The secrets, or one of them anyway, is right there in plain sight. Underneath Lincoln’s hands, on the chair he sits, are the symbol of fasces, “a bundle of rods bound by a leather thong,” According to the National Park Service (NPS).
The NPS dives into further detail: “Repeated elsewhere in the memorial, the fasces throughout the Lincoln Memorial reveal the higher meaning of the memorial and the man. There on the end of the wall is a carving of rods with an axe bound by a leather thong, the classic Roman fasces. The fasces indicate the power and authority of the state over the citizens, commanding respect. But there is a twist.
A bald eagle's head sits atop the axe, an American touch on an ancient Roman symbol. Adding to the American-ness, there are thirteen rods shown in the fasces, suggesting the thirteen original states that achieved independence from Britain and formed the United States.”
More by Rich Thomaselli
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