Iconic structures

It occured to me today that I generally represent cities in my head as buildings. Then it occurred to me that I have no idea what structure represents my adopted hometown of Orlando to most non-locals; I would guess it’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle or Spaceship Earth (the giant golf ball in the EPCOT Center), but I really have no clue.

Some cities are easy:
Sydney- the Opera House
Paris- the Eiffel Tower
Berlin- the Brandenburg Gate
Moscow- the Kremlin
Bombay/Mumbai- the Gateway to India
Edinburgh- Edinburgh Castle
New York- the Empire State Building*
Washington, D.C.- the White House
Seattle- the Space Needle
St. Louis- the Arch

Some cities are surprisingly hard. I lived in London for three years, and I can’t figure out what building most people would associate with it. Buckingham Palace, perhaps, but I doubt most people could begin to describe what it looks like. Downing Street is just a street with lots of policemen on it; everyone knows what the door to Number 10 looks like, but not the actual buildings. Windsor Castle, or the London Eye, or the Tower of London, perhaps - and Westminster Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Probably it’s Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

For Tokyo, I couldn’t think of any structures at all. Same for Rio, Buenos Aires, Stockholm, Madrid, or pretty much any other major city.

So, Dopers, help me out. What’s your city’s iconic structure? What other structures symbolize a city?

*I picked the ESB but the Statue of Liberty is a World Heritage Site and that might come to other people’s minds first.

How about Tokyo Tower?

Salt Lake City: The Mormon Tabernacle. Or the Temple.


Boston – Not sure there is one. The New State House?*

Rochester, N.Y. – The Times Square Building, if only because its Art Deco “Heat Fin” top is one of the most distinctive building-toppers I’ve seen.


  • It’s typical of Boston that a building made in 1798 is still called “new”. the Old State House dates to 1713.

You really TRULY have no idea. Sleeping Beauty Castle is in Anaheim. Cinderella Castle is in Orlando (Lake Buena Vista, actually, but you get my point).

Toronto – The CN Tower
San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge
Maybe Boston should use The Old North Church – I often see its steeple (along with the statue of Paul Revere) used as a symbol for Boston by out-of-town groups. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_North_Church

See? Anyway, it’s a big freakin’ mass of plaster, not a real castle.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a perfect example, Cal.

Big Ben is what comes to mind for me, and I suspect many other people as well.

I think the Christ the Redeemer statue is best known. Although not a structure, Sugarloaf Mountain in the background is also pretty iconic.

Or instead of the Golden Gate Bridge, you might have the Transamerica Pyramid. Ideally these buildings are recognizable even in silhouette.

For Panama City, it’s going to be either the Statue of Balboa or the ruined Cathedral Tower at Panama Viejo, the old city burned during the attack by the pirate Morgan in 1671.

Yes, but one is one of the fifty or so most famous man-made structures in the world, and the other is just a cool-looking building. If you asked the average joe in, say, Belgium where the Transamerica Pyramid was they’d probably not get any closer than, “America?”

Thirding Big Ben for London; seconding Christ the Redeemer (and the Sugarloaf) for Rio.

For Israel:

Jerusalem – the Western (“wailing”) wall and/or Al Aqsa mosque atop of it.

Haifa – the Baha’i Temple and gardens*.

Tel Aviv – none really, at least not internationally. Maybe in a few years the “Triple” (Azrieli) Towers will gain that status…

  • Of course, to most Israelis haifa is symbolized by the huge and horribly polluting twin smokestacks of the Refinery:stuck_out_tongue:

Another vote for Big Ben.

For whatever reason whenever I think of Jerusalem I picture the Dome of the Rock.

Washington DC - The White House or the Capitol building.
Beijing - The Forbidden City

If I saw a silhouette of Big Ben I wouldn’t think of London – Tower Bridge OTOH more readily would cause me to think of London (and because I first heard the term in the context of a game where you place your hands very close to the shape of Tower Bridge, I thought it was the London Bridge until a couple years ago.)

Pisa – the leaning tower.
Firenze (Florence) – David.
Moscow – the Red Square and the Kremlin
Edinburgh – The Rock(and the castle)

toronto is more like CN tower and Skydome(now Rogers Centre) as the penis and nutsack combo.

Madrid - Plaza de Cibeles
Frankfurt - Commerzbank Tower
Amsterdam - Royal Palace
Moscow - St. Basil’s Cathedral
Munich - Frauenkirche and Neues Rathaus

Not that it’s a large city, but here in Madison it’s either Monona Terrace (The last structure completed that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) or the State Capitol. For me, I live across the bay from downtown so it’s a little of both.

Dubai - Burj Al Arab
Pyongyang - Ryugyong Hotel
Tehran - Azadi Tower
Kuwait City - Kuwait Towers
Riyadh - Kingdom Tower

Pittsburgh: Point State Park – The apex of the Golden Triangle http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/3e31f9/"]http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/3e31f9/
Philly: The Liberty Bell and/or Independence Hall
Erie: The flagship Niagara
Cleveland: Terminal Tower

Probably Big Ben’s tower . . . but for many it’d be the Tower Bridge (especially for people who think it’s the “London Bridge”)

I would say Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral