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American Presidents and their American Landmarks

5 June 2019

Love him, hate him, confused by him; whatever your feelings towards the current US president, his state visit to the UK has whirled up both his supporters and his critics with his extravagant ways. Whether you're a gun-toting despot unhappy with your latest parade, or you're a perturbed student fighting the eco-fight, you'll be aware that president Trump's approach to the job is less than conventional - for better or for worse, he has left an indelible mark on the American political landscape.

For this blog, in honour of the British-American state visit, we're going to be looking at those presidents who have left an indelible mark on the literal political landscape. This list covers some of the American landmarks which either feature the facades of the heads of states, or bear their influence. So without further ado, let's head on to the American heartlands in the pursuit of American monuments and American ego!

The Hoover Dam

With nearly 4,360,000 yards of concrete, making up over 6,000,000 tons, the Hoover Dam is very, very big. It has to be as well, since this monument holds back the might of the Colorado River from rushing through the enormous Grand Canyon, in the process generating enough electricity through its hydro generators to power no fewer than three cities. This staggering achievement of human construction and ingenuity is named after the 31st American president Herbert Hoover and still bears his name after its construction completed in 1936. Here's the thing though, it was never supposed to be named after Herbert - one of his employees jumped the shark when discussing the dam with the press, saying before anyone had considered naming it anything that it would be named after his boss. This caused quite the stir, and Hoover wasn't even invited to the naming ceremony which was held by the next president, Franklin D Roosevelt.

The Abraham Memorial

Sat comfortably on an enormous throne, instantly identifiable thanks to his boisterous whiskers and sombre features, Abraham Lincoln keeps a constant watch over the political hive of Washington DC from the magnificent Abraham Memorial. Built specifically to honour the 16th presidents stellar work as the American big cheese, this landmark features inscriptions on both sides of the statue featuring some of Lincoln's finest speeches including the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address. This is possibly the most deserving of the presidents on our list owing to his work in race relations and the abolition of slavery, and the Abraham Memorial ties in many of the ideals which supposedly underpin the American people, especially freedom. Initial designs for the building from the original architect Henry Bacon were out there to say the least; possible ideas include a Mayan or a Egyptian pyramid.

The Lyndon B Johnson NASA Space Centre

Not the most striking or memorable of landmarks on our list, but nevertheless one of the most important and exciting buildings in the USA, the Lyndon B Johnson NASA Space Centre is the home of interstellar exploration for Americans. This is the famous Houston from that iconic line 'Houston, we have a problem', and its hallowed corridors have seen essential research and training carried out for every major American space venture ever. Named after the 36th US President, Lyndon B Johnson, NASA has operated in this haven for astrophysicists since 1961. Not bad for Lyndon, who started his career as a teacher in an impoverished Team school after coming from humble beginnings.

 

Mount Rushmore

How could we write a list about American presidential landmarks without mentioning the grandfather of them all, the classic Mount Rushmore! There are, after all, few monuments more presidential than one which features the larger-than-life facial features of four American presidents including in order from left to right George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Designed and overseen by acclaimed sculptor Gutzom Borglum, this timeless memorial is a true sight to behold and took 14 years for a team of 400 to complete in the early 20th century. Today it is the most visited site in South Dakota, and since it was after all, intended as a tourist attraction, it earns its place on our list with panache. It has also made its mark on the films of Hollywood, notably as the climax for Hitchcock's renowned North by North West. Finally, a fun fact: almost all of the initial construction was completed using dynamite.

 

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