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Old 04-16-2019, 03:15 AM
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Is there an American monument that would provoke the same reaction as the Notre Dame fire?


Seeing a lot of news coverage on the Notre Dame fire over the course of the day what got me the most was the various Parisian residents exclaiming how they found Notre Dame as the symbol of Paris (not the Eiffel Tower) and some were genuinely crying at it's loss.

Now I'm curious, is there anything in the United States that would be seen as a devastating loss if it was completely destroyed as part of a disaster, even if it was only regionally? What would make people cry over its loss in terms of historicity or symbolism?

All I can literally think of is the Alamo if it got completely leveled by a natural disaster, granted that would only be Texas.
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Old 04-16-2019, 03:35 AM
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The WTC comes to mind...

The White House. The Capitol Building. Smithsonian. Statue of Liberty.
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Old 04-16-2019, 04:07 AM
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The Lincoln Memorial.
Brooklyn Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge (beyond the obvious impact on traffic).
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Old 04-16-2019, 04:30 AM
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Mt. Vernon?
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Old 04-16-2019, 04:30 AM
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My brain went directly to Lincoln Memorial; the original WTC certainly did the trick (I say the original because there are many places by the same name, all of which were inspired by the one in NYC). The Statue of Liberty and the bridges are certainly very strong contenders. While the Smithsonian is, I'm sure, supermegainteresting, it's not something most foreigners would recognize (I just realized I had no idea what it looks like and took a peek… ok, pretty red brick building but… nope, I wouldn't have been able to pick it out of a lineup). And any American building that's inspired by greco-roman architecture and Not Lincoln Memorial is… just… not particularly inspiring. It makes sense that seeing the White House blown up would be devastating for an American, but for foreigners it's not particularly representative of "the US".

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Old 04-16-2019, 04:31 AM
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More than anything else, the Statue of Liberty.

#2 would be the Lincoln Memorial.
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Old 04-16-2019, 04:51 AM
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The Statue of Liberty is an iconic sight and symbol for the world, not just for Americans.

Nothing else in the USA would have the devastating symbolic impact of seeing it destroyed.

Last edited by Royal Nonesutch; 04-16-2019 at 04:53 AM.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:26 AM
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I don't know if there's anything in the US really that would carry that same impact. It's not just the scale but the history behind it.
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:32 AM
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I don't know if there's anything in the US really that would carry that same impact. It's not just the scale but the history behind it.
If you're looking for history, then maybe the Liberty Bell? But otherwise the most iconic symbolic structure in the US is the Statue of Liberty. Following that, I'd go with the Washington Monument, the White House, Congress, and then the Lincoln Memorial.
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:49 AM
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If the Rotunda at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. burned down and destroyed the Constitution, I think there would be quite a reaction.

Any of the Smithsonian Museums as well. There is a lot of irreplaceable stuff in those museums.
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:55 AM
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Following that, I'd go with the Washington Monument, the White House, Congress, and then the Lincoln Memorial.
I don't think anyone would care much about the Washington Monument. It seems like something that could be rebuilt exactly and nobody would care much. On the other hand, I think the destruction of Mount Rushmore would be a pretty big loss though.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:07 AM
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I don't know if there's anything in the US really that would carry that same impact. It's not just the scale but the history behind it.
I'm with asahi on this one. We'd certainly mourn the loss of the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Memorial, or White House but none of them carry the same cultural baggage that 850 years of existence brings with it.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:09 AM
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The Salt Lake City Mormon temple would do it for the Mormons.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:24 AM
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Statue of Liberty. Then maybe the Capitol and the White House.
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:15 AM
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Eh, maybe. But you couldn't really take out, say, the Lincoln Memorial, with any less than a bomb.

In either case, I'm sure it would be rebuilt in short order.
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:25 AM
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Nothing in the U.S. really compares. The Statue of Liberty? Paris has an equally iconic structure designed by the same guy but locals consider the Eiffel Tower second rate compared to Notre Dame. It has been depicted in notable artwork and literature for 800 years. It is the most prominent center of worship for the majority religion in the country (even if the country is becoming more secular). It is a central part of the city's civic life. Last time I was in Paris, I stumbled onto a major bread baking festival and there were thousands of Parisians just eating bread outside the cathedral with cheese and charcuterie. It's been the site of political protests and changes in government. We have no single site that has the iconic notoriety, historical importance, and religious significance of Notre Dame.
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:28 AM
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I don't know if there's anything in the US really that would carry that same impact. It's not just the scale but the history behind it.
I think I agree with this. The Statue of Liberty is probably close in symbolism, but it doesn't have all the irreplaceable art and relics that Notre Dame did, not to mention the 800+ years of history.

The Smithsonian has the art and artifacts, and it would be a staggering loss, but I don't think it carries the same weight as a symbol of the nation.

The White House is probably close, but I doubt that most Americans have the same emotional connection to it as the French do to Notre Dame. Sure, it has history and art, but -- I dunno -- it doesn't seem to loom so large in our cultural identity.

Last edited by Defensive Indifference; 04-16-2019 at 08:29 AM.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:00 AM
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The immaculate reception statue at the Pittsburgh airport. All kidding aside, I think the complete destruction of the capitol would have the most impact.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:04 AM
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That reminded me of the gnashing of teeth amongst all tasteless megachurch attendees upon the loss of Touchdown Jesus.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:08 AM
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I agree with those that say there isn't anything. Too little history around here.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:12 AM
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Old North Church in Boston.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:14 AM
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I agree with those who said the Statue of Liberty, but to the list of other possibilities that has been accumulating I'll add Mount Rushmore.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:23 AM
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Yeah, I've been thinking about this since yesterday and I have to agree that we in the US just don't have a building or site with the same sort of cultural significance - and hold on the imagination - that Notre Dame has. We just don't have the install base and history to make that happen.

It's a variation on the old chestnut: Europe, where 100 miles is a long way. America, where 100 years is a long time.
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Old 04-16-2019, 09:50 AM
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It'd be a hell of a fire that burned down Mt Rushmore.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:05 AM
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The immaculate reception statue at the Pittsburgh airport. All kidding aside, I think the complete destruction of the capitol would have the most impact.
You're kidding, but every time I fly out of Greater Pitt I appreciate Franco and the T Rex.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:06 AM
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I agree with those who said the Statue of Liberty, but to the list of other possibilities that has been accumulating I'll add Mount Rushmore.
Mount Rushmore is iconic, but I don't think many people have any (or much) emotional attachment to.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:14 AM
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There are some of us who find it completely forgettable.

The Statue of Liberty won't burn, and it isn't the repository of historical/cultural/religious artifacts, either.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:19 AM
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Yeah, I've been thinking about this since yesterday and I have to agree that we in the US just don't have a building or site with the same sort of cultural significance - and hold on the imagination - that Notre Dame has. We just don't have the install base and history to make that happen.

It's a variation on the old chestnut: Europe, where 100 miles is a long way. America, where 100 years is a long time.
I would give 10 to 1 odds that up until yesterday, if you could have somehow magically obtained a truly random, representative sample of all the human beings alive on Earth in 2019, across all countries and cultures, and then asked 100 (or 1000, 10,000, 1,000,000) of them to try to identify 2 different images, one of Notre Dame and one of the Statue of Liberty, at least 5x as many would have gotten the Statue of Liberty compared to Notre Dame.

I am not saying that Notre Dame isn't iconic, and is not an enduring, inspirational symbol of France, I am saying that the SoL is currently one of the most recognizable images in the entire collective modern human consciousness.

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Old 04-16-2019, 10:34 AM
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The USA doesn’t have the history, plus we’re a huge country. This is IMHO, so I don’t have a cite, but I think it’s safe to assume that most adults in France have been to Paris. I’ve been to DC and NYC but never to Mt Rushmore and have no desire to.

If the World Trade Center had just burned down and not been attacked, the loss wouldn’t be nearly as emotional. Sure, there would have been heroic stories and tragic ones, but it wouldn’t be such a huge event.

So, no, I don’t think there is a similar building in the USA. Most of my friends are also European travellers and we were all slightly emotional even from across the pond.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:40 AM
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I don't know if there's anything in the US really that would carry that same impact. It's not just the scale but the history behind it.
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Originally Posted by Wrenching Spanners View Post
If you're looking for history, then maybe the Liberty Bell? But otherwise the most iconic symbolic structure in the US is the Statue of Liberty. Following that, I'd go with the Washington Monument, the White House, Congress, and then the Lincoln Memorial.

I think that our history being shorter and our general attention span being shorter, something on this scale of a reaction is unlikely. But I would offer the Library of Congress as a candidate. Given the things contained there-in and the pedigree some of it has, once it set in I think you could see a sort of "national mourning".
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:42 AM
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Let's not forget that the destruction of the World Trade Center provoked a very strong reaction in Americans, and many other people, that is felt very strongly to this day -- and I can't really say that the WTC were revered buildings. Yes, very notable and famous buildings, but also a very long way from having a intimate tie to our heartstrings, if one sets aside the tragedy that occurred. If the Capitol or Statue of Liberty were destroyed, I think it would be devastating to many Americans.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:54 AM
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I don't know if there's anything in the US really that would carry that same impact.
You're forgetting this incredibly iconic structure.
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Old 04-16-2019, 10:57 AM
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Let's not forget that the destruction of the World Trade Center provoked a very strong reaction in Americans, and many other people, that is felt very strongly to this day -- and I can't really say that the WTC were revered buildings. Yes, very notable and famous buildings, but also a very long way from having a intimate tie to our heartstrings, if one sets aside the tragedy that occurred. If the Capitol or Statue of Liberty were destroyed, I think it would be devastating to many Americans.


Even if they were destroyed by a fire? The WTC reaction was based, in my opinion, on the terrorist attacks and not on the building itself. As I mentioned above, if a fire had broken out in one of the WTC towers on September 11, 2011, I don’t think it would be something people would still be emotional about today.
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Old 04-16-2019, 11:14 AM
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Even if they were destroyed by a fire? The WTC reaction was based, in my opinion, on the terrorist attacks and not on the building itself. As I mentioned above, if a fire had broken out in one of the WTC towers on September 11, 2011, I don’t think it would be something people would still be emotional about today.
Without a doubt, but had the towers fallen as a result of an accidental fire, it would still be a huge deal -- if for no other reason that actually watching a tragedy like that occur is a major, major deal.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:07 PM
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Statue of Liberty
Capitol Building
Independence Hall in Philadelphia (and the Liberty Bell)
Lincoln Memorial

One level down
Alamo
Golden Gate Bridge
Gateway Arch
Sears/Willis Tower
Hoover Dam
Washington Monument
White House

If somehow the Grand Canyon suddenly turned into a landfill, that would be a world-wide tragedy.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:12 PM
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Even if they were destroyed by a fire? The WTC reaction was based, in my opinion, on the terrorist attacks and not on the building itself. As I mentioned above, if a fire had broken out in one of the WTC towers on September 11, 2011, I don’t think it would be something people would still be emotional about today.
I agree, the reaction to the WTC's destruction was mainly about the cause of it and life lost not the building. It would not have had the same effect in the short or long run if a disastrous accidental* fire had somehow consumed both buildings with no deaths. OTOH I doubt the fire at ND, tragic as it is in material terms, will have anything like the effect on French society or public policy or be remembered as much in 18 yrs as the WTC attacks in case of the US. Kind of apples and oranges I guess.

I think the right answer is that the US just doesn't have 800 yr old cultural icons. The US has icons as well known or more worldwide (Statue of Liberty is more famous than Notre Dame with the general world population I agree) but they aren't national/world cultural treasures to the same degree.



*we don't 100% know if the ND fire was an accident but that seems to be the assumption right now.
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:35 PM
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Maybe just a New York thing, but watching a beauty like St. Patrick's Cathedral burning down would be much worse for me than anything in Washington D.C..
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Old 04-16-2019, 12:40 PM
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Probably Disney World or Disney Land.

No, really. People love those places.
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Old 04-16-2019, 01:28 PM
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I don't know if there's anything in the US really that would carry that same impact. It's not just the scale but the history behind it.
This. It's a tough question because USA is not Europe, and what makes us US is not what makes them THEM. Notre Dame has witnessed nearly a millennium of change in Paris alone, and that's why it's so cool--Europe is nothing if not impressive and proud old stuff. Notre Dame is part of who & what Europe (and especially Paris) is.

So what is USA? Well, coupla things, really. Most recently it has been the longest lived democratic republic in human history. And that's swell, but as noted it's a comparatively shallow witness to Western Civilization. Maybe if we were to lose the declaration and the constitution? That'd be rough because they quite literally define who we are as a Western nation, and the handwritten documents are a direct physical link to our origin as a nation. Swab for DNA and you could probably decode one of the founders. Or Bruce the janitor, but you get my point.

But what else are we? Well, there were a few people living here before The Spanish arrived 500 years ago, before the Vikings arrived 1,000 years ago, before subsistence farmers in Manchester, England were still plowing up the dirt with the arsebone of a giraffe, before the pyramids went up in Egypt.... Truly, what was important to those people doesn't get the same reverence from us newcomers, nevertheless, we have been drawn to the same landmarks they held sacred. I can't be the only one who felt the loss when Yellowstone was burning in 1988. What if we lost our sequoias--forever? What if the climate were to change and the desert southwest became wet, depriving us not only of a massive ecosystem but Native American stuff whose existence today is owed entirely to not having to deal with rainfall? How about if Florida gets submerged, or Mt. Rainier pops, or Yellowstone pops? I know, that's all really big stuff compared to an 800 year old church but it's what we have that sorta compares. Pity we don't prize it more, actually.

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Old 04-16-2019, 02:08 PM
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Americans were deeply affected by 9/11 but that was because of the loss of life and the feelings of insecurity triggered by a terrorist attack. If the empty towers had been felled by a construction accident many fewer people would be upset about the loss of the buildings.

not what you'd expect's suggestion is out of left field but I think he's onto something. People love Disney World. It hosts weddings, post-graduation celebrations family reunions, childhood vacations, championship celebrations, etc. It has woven itself into momentous personally significant occasions for millions of people. Disney World has even been architecturally influential. Disney World obviously lacks the religious significance and political history of Notre Dame but if Disney World were lost, it would be felt by so many Americans I could see the same sort of outpouring of grief that the French have evinced at Notre Dame. Of course, the rest of the world would make fun of us for having this reaction.
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:11 PM
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Mount Rushmore is iconic, but I don't think many people have any (or much) emotional attachment to.
I'd probably be more upset if Mount Rushmore was destroyed in an earthquake than if any of the aforementioned buildings were destroyed. Mostly because the buildings can always be rebuilt but it's incredibly unlikely that anything like Mount Rushmore would allowed to carved into a mountain again.
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Old 04-16-2019, 02:15 PM
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Perhaps loss of a state itself, as the US is very diverse and that diversity is in the concept of US statehood. It goes to one of the cores of the nation.
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Old 04-16-2019, 03:44 PM
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Son of a Rich:

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It'd be a hell of a fire that burned down Mt Rushmore.
Obviously I mean destruction in the general sense, not necessarily by fire.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:23 PM
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For me the Library of Congress immediately comes to mind.
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Old 04-16-2019, 05:36 PM
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Americans were deeply affected by 9/11 but that was because of the loss of life and the feelings of insecurity triggered by a terrorist attack. If the empty towers had been felled by a construction accident many fewer people would be upset about the loss of the buildings.

not what you'd expect's suggestion is out of left field but I think he's onto something. People love Disney World. It hosts weddings, post-graduation celebrations family reunions, childhood vacations, championship celebrations, etc. It has woven itself into momentous personally significant occasions for millions of people. Disney World has even been architecturally influential. Disney World obviously lacks the religious significance and political history of Notre Dame but if Disney World were lost, it would be felt by so many Americans I could see the same sort of outpouring of grief that the French have evinced at Notre Dame. Of course, the rest of the world would make fun of us for having this reaction.
To turn this around, watching the spire collapse gave me the same feeling as I had watching the towers crumble on 9-11. The feeling that something of indescribable horror had just happened, that something had ended and that things would never be the same again.
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:32 PM
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Eh, maybe. But you couldn't really take out, say, the Lincoln Memorial, with any less than a bomb.

In either case, I'm sure it would be rebuilt in short order.
Don't sell nature short - the Old Man of the Mountain got taken out by mother nature and time. A big earthquake could destroy a lot of things and the east coast is decades overdue for a major one.
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Old 04-16-2019, 06:46 PM
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Maybe my Philly bias showing, but I'd go with Independence Hall. Most significant historical building in America. Every time I'm in there I look around at the substantially wooden structure and hope to hell there is some sort of hidden advanced fir suppression system.
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Old 04-16-2019, 07:46 PM
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As we are a relatively young country, I think it would be worse if it happened to a natural landmark. If the Redwood Forest were to be destroyed on a wildfire, that would break my heart.
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:24 PM
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I would give 10 to 1 odds that up until yesterday, if you could have somehow magically obtained a truly random, representative sample of all the human beings alive on Earth in 2019, across all countries and cultures, and then asked 100 (or 1000, 10,000, 1,000,000) of them to try to identify 2 different images, one of Notre Dame and one of the Statue of Liberty, at least 5x as many would have gotten the Statue of Liberty compared to Notre Dame.

I am not saying that Notre Dame isn't iconic, and is not an enduring, inspirational symbol of France, I am saying that the SoL is currently one of the most recognizable images in the entire collective modern human consciousness.
So what? I could show all the human beings alive on earth a picture of Donald Duck and probably most of them would know what it is. Does that make it the most important of all cultural icons?

Of course the Statue of Liberty is iconic and historic. But simply being recognizable is in itself, if taken alone, a poor measure of historic value. The Statue of Liberty is just a statue, capable of being replaced with essentially no perceptible difference, while Notre Dame is a more than 800-year-old vast cathedral, a labor of love that has been crafted and re-crafted and expanded and enhanced countless times throughout her storied history. It also contains priceless artifacts of all kinds that are as old or older as the building itself, as historic or perhaps even more so. So I really couldn't care less how many people around the world could recognize it in a picture compared to other great cathedrals -- it was a vastly detailed living record of history and such losses as were sustained were immeasurable losses to the world and its culture. The only saving grace is that much of it was saved and it will be rebuilt.
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Old 04-16-2019, 08:27 PM
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If the World Trade Center had just burned down and not been attacked, the loss wouldn’t be nearly as emotional. Sure, there would have been heroic stories and tragic ones, but it wouldn’t be such a huge event.
True.

Speaking as a lifelong New Yorker (and someone who was actually in the WTC for the 1993 bombing), the Twin Towers were really just second-tier office space. They had no cultural significance whatsoever.

Which, of course, in no way diminishes the impact of the attack of September 11, 2001.

I'm just saying that the buildings themselves had no particular significance.
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