They say that there's nothing new under the sun, and that applies to more things than you realize. Whether you're talking about famous historical events or entire cities, the real world often winds up feeling a lot like Groundhog Day.
#6. The Titanic's Older Sibling (Actually Was Unsinkable)
You know the story of the Titanic by heart, and thanks to James Cameron, you probably even know it in 3-D. Some guys went ahead and built a ridiculously huge ship, declared it to be "unsinkable" and, as the universe's punishment for their hubris, it immediately sank on its first voyage, teaching everybody a goddamn lesson in humility (also a lesson in not half-assing the amount of lifeboats you want a giant ship to have).
"We just assumed half our passengers would want to die at any given moment."
The One You Didn't Know About:
There were actually three Titanics. More accurately, the Titanic was one of three enormous ships they called the Olympic class cruisers, and the only reason you don't hear about the others is because they didn't hit an iceberg and kill hundreds of people (that's really the only way to make your mark in the boat world). In fact, they had damn good reason to think that the Titanic was unsinkable, because its identical sister ship, the Olympic, had been smashing into shit for a year already and absolutely refused to go down.
"Why can't you be more like your sister? Maybe meet a nice aircraft carrier and settle down?"
The Olympic made its intentions known right out of the gate when it arrived in New York after its maiden voyage and the sheer size of it sucked in and smashed up smaller ships in port. That wasn't even its only misadventure -- only a few voyages later, the Olympic promptly collided with another ship, the HMS Hawke. A little worse for wear, the Olympic was patched up using parts from the not-quite-finished Titanic and sent on its way again.
It's only when the Titanic sank that people started getting nervous about traveling on the Olympic, especially since both ships were practically devoid of lifeboats, and everyone saw how well that worked out for the Titanic. Of course, by that time, World War I was breaking out and nobody wanted to travel to Europe anyway, so the Olympic and the other surviving monster cruiser, the Britannic, were recommissioned as military vessels to help the war effort. How did the Olympic help? The only way it knew how -- by ramming into German submarines and sinking them.
"Permission to shit myself, sir?"
In 1934, the Olympic crashed into yet another ship, killing seven people (none of them from the Olympic). Still, it shrugged off the incident. In the end, the only thing that could harm the Titanic's big sister was the Great Depression, when it became ultimately more profitable to take it apart for scrap than to keep driving it all over the world, smashing it into things. And half a century later, all we remember about these giant assholes of the sea comes from the movie they made about the lamest one.
#5. The Knockoff Taj Mahal
One of the most recognizable of Earth's landmarks, the Taj Mahal of India is considered to be one of the most beautiful and the most unique examples of Islamic art. That is, unless you're counting ...
The One You Didn't Know About:
... the other Taj Mahal just around the corner in neighboring Bangladesh.
Via Imran Ul Karim
It's a perfect replica, right down to the caramel fountains.
Back in 1980, filmmaker Ahsanullah Moni got the idea that seeing the Taj Mahal is some kind of human right, and that impoverished Bangladeshis are seriously missing out by being unable to afford to see it. So he did the tiny country a favor and coughed up around $58 million to build his own scale replica. Or maybe his goals weren't quite as noble as all that. Maybe he just saw the original Taj Mahal and thought, "Oooooh, I want that!" In either case, he built the hell out of one.
In the spirit of the original, Moni shipped in materials from all over the world to construct his big-budget sequel, presumably because there wasn't enough marble in Bangladesh to attempt more than a really nice dollhouse.
"Found some more over here!"
Unfortunately, India has been less than pleased by its neighbor's attempt to emulate its most recognizable asset. By which we mean it's practically sparked an international incident, with India threatening to sue for copyright infringement. Lawyers aren't particularly optimistic about such plans, being that the copyright on the Taj Mahal technically expired sometime around the late 1600s, but India's High Commission insists that they have some kind of case to be heard here on the basis that "you can't just go and copy historical monuments."
Las Vegas begs to differ.
But this whole ordeal hasn't squashed Moni's ambitions -- his next project is apparently to copy the Egyptian pyramids, but bigger. Sounds like somebody is overcompensating.
#4. The California Space Shuttle Launch Center
When people think of Florida, they usually think of space shuttles. Or Disney. Or old people. Or how the state looks like a wiener. But, for the purposes of this article, we're going to pretend they think about space shuttles, because every human who has ever been blasted into space from American soil since 1968 has left the launch pad at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. So there can't be too many of those lying around, right?
The One You Didn't Know About:
History has of course forgotten about the ill-fated West Coast shuttle center in Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, mainly because after they'd built the whole thing, they never actually got around to launching anything out of there.
"We've realized it's much cheaper for you to just sit there and look majestic."
The Vandenburg Space Shuttle Launcher was built in the early 1970s when the Air Force kind of wanted in on this whole "space travel" thing. And by that they meant they wanted to be able to launch their own spacecraft without those meddling NASA scientists asking questions about everything.
Despite warnings that throwing a lot of flying projectiles into the air wasn't a very smart thing to do during the Cold War, the Air Force went ahead and started construction on what was to be the Grand Central station for space shuttles. The launch center was declared operational on October 15, 1985, with plans for an insane 20 missions a year.
Then this happened:
After the Challenger disaster, suddenly the Air Force didn't want anything to do with space shuttles anymore for some reason, and the entire $4 billion complex just sat there abandoned and unattended until it was torn down in 1991 to make way for a brand new space center (which was also canceled).
"This administration will not rest until we put a space center on every space center in America!"