What American landmarks looked like under construction
For a young country, the United States has an extensive, if complicated history. Much of that background is etched out from coast to coast with monuments and buildings that speak to significant sites, some of our nation’s leaders, and the many different people and communities to have laid roots here. To explore some of those national landmarks, Stacker has curated a gallery of what various American landmarks looked like while they were still under construction.
While some monuments and landmarks offer a conflicted or divisive look back at the American past, others speak to fundamental American values like community, perseverance, innovation, and a common call to create a more perfect union and hold ourselves to the loftiest ideals of the nation’s founding document. Keep reading to learn more about some of the country’s most iconic landmarks and see what they looked like before they were completed.
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Capitol Building - Washington D.C. 1859
It took 10 years to construct the U.S. Capitol Dome, from 1856 to 1866, out of 8,909,200 pounds of bolted-together cast iron. It cost $1,047,291 to construct.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral - New York City 1875
Three men pose outside St. Patrick's Cathedral at Fifth Avenue and 51st Street during construction around the year 1875. The Gothic Revival style cathedral was designed by James Renwick Jr., who also designed iconic buildings such as the Smithsonian Institution Building, Mark Twain House, and the Oak Hill Cemetery chapel.
Smithsonian Museum - Washington D.C. 1879
The Arts and Industries Building is seen here under construction in 1879. It is the second oldest of the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
Brooklyn Bridge - New York City 1883
The Brooklyn Bridge is pictured here under construction in 1883. It was the first bridge to use steel as cable wire. Completed in 1883, it stands as one of the oldest suspension bridges in the U.S.
Statue of Liberty - France 1884
The left hand of the Statue of Liberty under construction is seen here in 1884. Sixty men worked for almost 10 years to build the statue designed by Frederic Bartholdi.
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Library of Congress - Washington D.C. 1890
The Library of Congress is one of the biggest libraries in the world and the oldest federal cultural institution in the U.S. Between 1888 and 1894 the library’s permanent home—a separate building in Washington D.C. across from the Capitol Building—was constructed to house all the volumes. Here, we see the Library of Congress under construction in 1890.
Flatiron Building - New York City 1902
The Flatiron Building is seen here under construction in 1902 on the triangular block formed by Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and East 23rd Street in Manhattan.
New York City Subway System 1902
Ground broke in March of 1900 in Manhattan on the New York City subway system. The bid for the job was won for $35 million by Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT). IRT’s task included 21 miles of tunnels and 58 miles of tracks, 46.5 of which were for underground lines and 11.5 miles elevated. When the subway opened on Oct. 27, 1904, it was the largest subway system in the world.
In this photo, you can see a portion of the tunnel under construction below Central Park in 1902.
Cathedral of Saint John the Divine - New York City 1904
Pictured here is a 1904 shot of the exterior of the arched entrance to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, located on Amsterdam Avenue and 112th Street in Manhattan. Additional bundles of lumber can be seen in the street. Ground broke for the creation of the cathedral in 1892, with construction intended to outshine St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Plans changed in 1909 when the style was updated from Byzantine-Romanesque to the then-chic Gothic. The cathedral today is still technically unfinished.
Lincoln Memorial - Washington D.C. c. 1916
The Lincoln Memorial, pictured here under construction, took eight years to build and was completed in 1922. It was designed by New York architect Henry Bacon and features a sub-foundation of 122 poured concrete piers, and stones brought in from around the country (including Tennessee, Colorado, Massachusetts, Alabama, and Georgia) to represent the reunification of the United States.
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