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ASCE Seven Wonders of the Modern World

It’s Sunday, and my first edition of places that I want to go.  Initially, I was going to rank the places that I wanted to go and present them in descending order, but I realized that I want to go everywhere equally.  I just want to travel!  So instead, I put them in a random order, starting with this rather obscure selection – The American Society of Civil Engineers Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

I know what you’re thinking.  It’s probably along the lines of “whaaaaaaaaat?”  Yes, I know.  It’s a long title!  But I have a fascination with lists and rankings and things that other people think are the best in some way.  This isn’t going to be the only list like this in the places that I want to go entries, as the year goes on.  And, to me, this one is the perfect one to start with, because I am dating and living with a structural engineer, who will stop in the middle of a mall and point out different kinds of beams and supports and things that hold everything together.  It’s interesting and embarrassing at the same time, and it’s one of the reasons I love him.  So H, this one is for you!

The ASCE has a website with a little section about this list, and why they chose each site.  I’m going to summarize.  In 1994, the ASCE asked for nominations of man-made structures throughout the world that represented the epitome of 20th Century innovation in engineering at its finest.  These are the seven sites that won.  I could summarize the reason that each structure is on the list, but I think that would be a bit boring, as I’m sure very few of you care much about civil engineering.  So instead, I’m going to tell you why I think each of the sites is worthy of a place on my personal list of places I’d like to visit in my lifetime.

  1. Channel Tunnel.  The Channel Tunnel (or, more fondly, the Chunnel) is the underwater tunnel that connects England to France by train.  I studied abroad in Scotland while I was in college, and I had high hopes that I would be able to travel by train through the Chunnel to visit France and the rest of Europe, but I unfortunately ran out of both time and money.  Which is why it is still on my list.  But seriously, guys.  How cool would it be to ride a train underwater for 31 miles, and then pop out in a different country?  Pretty freaking cool.  That’s all I’m saying.

    Cross section of Chunnel path

    Channel Tunnel path

  2. CN Tower.  I know very little about Canada or landmarks there, but this is pretty dang cool.  The CN Tower, in Toronto, is the tallest freestanding structure in the world.  It stands 1,815 feet high, and has a pod in it (that is 1,100 feet above the ground) that people can visit, like Seattle’s Space Needle.  Sweet, right?  I’d visit Canada to see that.  Granted, I’m scared of heights, but everyone has to face their fears at some point.  The most awesome part, in my opinion, is that it was constructed with the aid of a wind tunnel, which means it can withstand gusts up to 260 miles per hour.  Whoa.

    CN Tower at night

  3. Empire State Building.  This one is on the list for obvious reasons.  I’ve never been to New York, but Ted Mosby says that this is the best part of the whole city.  (In fact, he cried when he thought he was leaving it to move to Chicago.)  There are a lot of cool engineering facts about the building, such as that it was completed in only a little over a year, but I’ve just never seen something like it before.

    Empire State Building

  4. The Golden Gate Bridge.  Again, this one seems obvious.  It’s a very cool structure, and I’ve never been to San Francisco.  And after Ben made Emily (who was afraid of heights) climb up the damn thing on the Bachelor, I knew I needed to see it.[i]  Also, I love Full House reruns.  For me, part of the fascination lies in the grimmer history of the bridge – many people commit suicide by jumping off, as many as 25 to 30 per year, making it the world’s top suicide site.  It’s morbid and crazy and something that I need to see with my own eyes.

    Golden Gate Bridge

  5. Itaipu Dam.  I had never heard of this prior to reading this list, but check this out.  The Itaipu Dam is five miles wide (spanning the Parana River at Brazil’s border with Paraguay), contains enough concrete to build five Hoover Dams, and enough iron and steel to build 300 Eiffel Towers.  Holy moly!  The hydroelectric generators inside the dam supply 28% of southern Brazil’s energy, and 72% of the energy to the entirety of Paraguay.  This is something else!  I may have never heard of it before today, but taking H to see this thing would be an adventure in itself.[ii]

    Itaipu Dam

  6. Netherlands’ North Sea Protection Works.  I’m not sure how much people know about the Netherlands, but the country sits almost entirely below sea level.  Throughout history, the Dutch have tried to prevent their country from sinking into the sea.[iii]  So the engineers took over.  And the North Sea Protection Works pretty much allows the country to continue to exist, since it’s still sinking.  I’m not as interested in these kinds of structures, but I have a fond place in my heart for the Dutch.[iv]  Also, I’d really like the beautiful tulip fields to not flood, thank you very much.

    One of the levees at the North Sea Protection Works

    Map of the North Sea Protection Works

  7. Panama Canal.  Again, this one seems obvious to me.  You can’t have a list of the feats of civil engineers without including the Panama Canal.  I’d like to see it, because just knowing that it’s man-made makes it pretty awesome.  And Panama is supposed to be beautiful and tropical and wonderful.  So yes.  I’d like to see this.

    Panama Canal from above

Want more information?  I found everything here.  H and I better start saving our vacation time, because we’ve got places to see and structures to marvel at!  I’ll bring the camera.


[i] Yes, I will be referencing television and movies in most of my posts.  You better get used to it.

[ii] I must go!

[iii] No one wants a library at Alexandria situation again.


"19 You + Me" by Dan + Shay

Weekend Plans #1