From the soaring Golden Gate Bridge to the famous mountain peak in Alaska, these landmarks speak volumes about the United States. Learn about the history behind some of the most iconic American landmarks and see these enduring symbols of the country for yourself!
The Alamo is a Texas landmark that’s known from pop culture references like “Remember the Alamo” and Pee Wee Herman. But it holds a lot more historical significance.
Whether you’re traveling to Ellis Island to learn about immigration or paying your respects at Pearl Harbor, iconic American landmarks teach us about the qualities that make up our country. The Alamo is no exception, a monument to courage and sacrifice.
Located in downtown San Antonio, The Alamo is a shrine to the battle for Texas independence. It tells the story of a small group of brave men who held their ground against an overwhelming force of Mexican soldiers. The iconic defenders—known as the “Alamo Triumvirate”—were William Travis, Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett. They are remembered for their death at the battle of the Alamo in 1836, but the real heroes of the Alamo were the people who survived and continued the fight for freedom.
The battle for Texas’ sovereignty began long before the 12-day siege and lightning-quick battle of the 13th day at the Alamo. In the years leading up to the battle, Texas was occupied by multiple armies. The Alamo was home to a diverse group of settlers including farmers and doctors from the east coast, a blacksmith from Tennessee, a man who worked as a Tennessee congressman, and frontiersmen with connections to the United States, France, Germany and Ireland.
After the battle, The Alamo was handed over to the Roman Catholic Church and then to the U.S. government, which used the complex for military purposes until 1872. The site was eventually sold to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who ran it until they were disbanded in 1905. Today, the Alamo is overseen by the Texas State Land Office.
The White House
The White House is both the home of the President and First Family of the United States and also the People’s House, where all Americans are welcomed with a sense of inclusion. This iconic American structure is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C and has served as the headquarters of America’s executive branch since 1800. The White House has been remodeled and restored throughout the years, and is recognized around the world as a symbol of democracy.
Originally called Government House, the building was constructed between 1790 and 1791 as the presidential mansion before Congress moved the national capital to Philadelphia. During the War of 1812, British soldiers burned the White House, but it was rebuilt immediately. In 1824, the South Portico was added to the building and the North Portico was completed five years later. President Chester A. Arthur ordered major renovations to the White House after he assumed office in 1881. Louis Comfort Tiffany was sent to assist with the design of the new West Wing, and the exterior was repainted with an ornate carpet-style flowerbeds that was inspired by the original design.
The White House is open for tours, and it is also possible to see the inside through a special appointment with your congressperson or embassy. Visitors can also tour the Ellipse, where the White House is situated, and view the many monuments that adorn the grounds.
The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a national symbol and one of the most iconic landmarks in America. It symbolizes freedom, democracy and justice around the world. The statue stands in New York Harbor and is a reminder of the great sacrifices that led to the founding of our nation. The colossal monument is made of copper sheets and was designed by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and the man behind the Eiffel Tower, Gustave Eiffel.
As the Civil War was winding down, Edouard de Laboulaye proposed a gift from France to America to celebrate American independence and the close bond between the two nations. His ideas were influenced by the United States Declaration of Independence and the recent abolition of slavery in America.
Sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, known for his large-scale sculptures, was hired to create the statue and the pedestal on which it would stand. In 1885, the French ship Isere arrived in New York with the statue. It had been disassembled into 350 pieces held in 214 crates. It took four months for workers to reassemble the massive statue on Bedloe Island, which was later named Liberty Island.
A visit to the Statue of Liberty allows visitors to see the symbol of a nation that opened its doors to millions of immigrants seeking a new life in America. The monument beckons to all those who seek opportunity and hope in the land of their ancestors.
The Space Needle
The Space Needle is a Seattle icon that stands 605 ft and has spectacular indoor and outdoor views of the city, Mount Rainier, Puget Sound, and beyond. Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. To this day, it continues to symbolize the forward-thinking spirit of Seattle. In 2013, the iconic landmark received a multi-million dollar renovation that added the 520 ft Oculus and opened up new views of the city with a rotating glass floor. Get up close to the iconic attraction with a Seattle City Pass or pre-book a skip the line ticket.
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of California’s most iconic structures and it’s easy to see why. The suspension bridge is almost two miles long and was once the longest in the world. It’s a breathtaking sight and a reminder of the beauty that can be found in nature.
The Hollywood sign is a symbol of the entertainment industry and can be seen all over North America. The iconic monument was originally developed as an advertisement for a housing development but has since grown into a global symbol of celebrity and Hollywood culture. It’s a great place for a selfie or to visit on a Los Angeles tour. The iconic structure has also been featured in a variety of films and TV shows.
The Washington Monument
In America, there are many landmarks that reflect the country’s rich history. Whether it’s learning about the resiliency of Ellis Island immigrants or paying respects at Pearl Harbor, these landmarks all help us understand what makes this country unique. However, not all Americans know the stories behind these iconic structures. This includes the Washington Monument, a symbol of American democracy that’s 555 feet tall and shaped like an Egyptian obelisk.
The 555-foot obelisk is the world’s tallest stone structure, but it wasn’t always that way. It took over 22 years to complete this iconic landmark. This is because of a series of events and changes in government that kept the project from going forward.
Despite the difficulties, the Washington Monument still stands today. This monument to our country’s first president reflects the complex story of enslavement and freedom. It is also a reminder of the power of individual citizens to make change happen.
The monument’s genesis began with a private group, the Washington National Monument Society, which was founded in 1833. Its founders, including President James Madison and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, envisioned a tribute to the nation’s founding father that would be “unparalleled in the world.” The obelisk’s design was chosen as part of a competition in the 1840s. The winning entry was from a prominent American architect, Robert Mills. The design reflected the idea of an ancient obelisk, which conveyed the sense of awe and gratitude that Washington inspired in America.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park
It’s no secret that America is home to a multitude of legendary landmarks that capture the hearts of visitors from all across the nation. But what many don’t know is that the iconic American structures are not only breathtaking, they also hold a wealth of history behind them.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a pristine wonder that stretches through both Tennessee and North Carolina. It encapsulates the beautiful scenery of the Appalachian Mountains and is considered to be the most visited national park in the country. The national park is made up of many historic sites that tell the story of the region and help to define its culture.
Among those sites are the many historic log buildings that are found throughout the park. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park stewards the largest collection of historic log buildings in the United States as cultural resources that are preserved to tell the story of life in the Smokies in the early 20th century. These historic homes, barns, corncribs and churches reveal a time when mountain homesteads were giving way to logging, tourism, and the National Park Service.
One of the most famous historic buildings in the national park is the Walker Sisters cabin located in Little Greenbrier Cove. The sisters lived in the cabin for the majority of their lives and they fought to keep their home even after the national park was established. The sisters were an example of the hardworking mountain families that helped to build this remarkable national park.