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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)

Via Wikipedia - US Public Domain

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).

Photos.com
"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.

Via Webnode.com
"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.

Photos.com
"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.

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5
The Knockoff Taj Mahal

Photos.com

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.

Via Wikipedia
"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."

Getty
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.

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4
The California Space Shuttle Launch Center

Photos.com

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.

Via Allposters.com
"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:

Via Blindloop.com

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).

Via Murdoconline.net
"This administration will not rest until we put a space center on every space center in America!"

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3
The Counterfeit White House

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It's been the home of the president of the United States since 1800, and understandably it makes your house look like a piece of shit. He's the most powerful man in the free world, so you'd have to have a pretty enormous ego to look at that and think that, hell, you deserve a house just like it. As it turns out, there are some pretty enormous egos out there.

Getty
"You bitches wanna come up to the top of my tree house here and watch me make it rain?"

The One You Didn't Know About:

Huang Qiaoling is one of the richest men in China, and apparently doesn't know what to do with it all, which is why he threw $10 million into building a full-scale replica of the White House. In his garden. The best thing is that he doesn't even live in it -- he just uses it, we guess, as a side-by-side comparison to his bigger mansion to rub it in everyone's face that he's more decadent than the president of the United States. Either that or he just really likes Americana -- his replica White House stands right beside his replica Mount Rushmore and replica Washington Monument.

And it's not just an external replica -- each detail has been immaculately reproduced from the original White House and put into his White House. Right down to the $60,000 sofas.

Via Nextnature.net
"Oh, that? It's OK, I mostly just store gardening equipment in there. I think there's a Ping-Pong table in the Oval Office."

He only changed two things in his White House: He replaced some tomes of American history with booze, and also added a statue of Genghis Khan. (The real White House doesn't have one of those, though if you had to learn that from us, please stop reading this site and pick up a textbook. Any textbook, it doesn't matter.)

Apparently, Huang's elaborate presidential memorabilia has gone to his head a little bit, as it's reported that he likes to meet his business partners inside his own Oval Office and forces his staff to call him "President Huang," which means he's either a dick or seriously doesn't understand that an America president isn't decided on based on who can get into the White House first.

Getty
"Looks like those six years at summer camp are about to pay off, baby!"

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2
Paris, China

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The city of Paris is the most visited city in the world, and of all of the world's most recognizable landmarks, Paris has like a dozen of them. Still, if you happen to be in China and you try to buy a flight to Paris, it's likely that they'll ask you "Which one?"

The One You Didn't Know About:

Via Gadling.com
"Well, preferably, the one without any French people in it?"

Many cities in the Western world have space set aside for a "Chinatown," so you might wonder what equivalent they have in actual China. Check out Little Paris, the Chinese replica of the archetypical European city, complete with an Eiffel Tower, an Arc de Triomphe and the fountain in the garden of the Palace of Versailles.

It is designed to be able to house 100,000 people but isn't close to that number, mainly because it's so expensive to live there that most people can't afford it. But it does boast the tallest Eiffel Tower in China, 8 meters higher than the one in the southern city of Shenzhen.

Via Gadling.com
OK, now we know it's not in France. OH, WE JUST DID!

Oh wait, you didn't know? There are two Eiffel Towers in China, out of about 30 in the world. Seriously, when alien archaeologists come to study our civilization, they're going to wonder why we worshiped this giant metal triangle.

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1
The Other D-Day Invasion

Via Wikipedia

D-Day is one of the most famous battles of World War II, when a whopping 156,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches into occupied France at Normandy. Facing fierce opposition, the troops fought a literal uphill battle into the heavy German defenses until they had secured a beachhead and commenced Operation Kick the Nazis' Asses. But D-Day may not have gone so well if not for the (more catastrophic) rehearsal.

Via Wikipedia
Imagine taking a morning stroll along the beach and seeing that roll up on you.

The One You Didn't Know About:

In April of 1944, preparations were in full swing for the upcoming invasion in June, and they figured the best way to ensure victory was to do a full-scale dry run so that the Allied soldiers could get a taste of the horrors they were about to face before the actual horrors started. Operation Tiger was a top-secret invasion rehearsal at a place called Devon, chosen for its resemblance to the French beaches, and kept way under wraps so that the Germans wouldn't know what they were rehearsing for. So imagine the Brits' surprise when the Nazis actually showed up.

Nine German E-boats managed to sneak through the defensive perimeter. Probably not realizing what they had stumbled into, they were presumably confused about why the Allied forces were storming a British beach. But they shrugged their shoulders and opened fire, sinking a bunch of Allied carriers who had mere seconds to realize this shit just got terrifyingly real.

Via Wikipedia
One of the Sherman tanks from the actual practice run now stands as a memorial.

The Allies started desperately calling for help over the radios, but due to the secrecy of the mission, no one on the mainland knew what was going on, and due to a paperwork error, Royal Navy rescue ships were operating on a different frequency. What resulted was 946 American fatalities -- over three times the amount who died at Utah Beach in the D-Day invasion.

As you can imagine, suffering such a huge defeat in the practice run of the invasion didn't set very high hopes for the actual invasion, which still happened as planned 40 days later, with many of the survivors taking part. But historians believe that if it wasn't for Operation Tiger, the D-Day invasion may not have succeeded, because the Allies were forced to learn the hard way about whatever they got wrong the first time.

Via Wikipedia
Oh, that tank above? It was under water for 40 years.

This basically means that, by crashing the rehearsal, the Nazis ensured their own defeat in a frenzy of Darwinian adaptation. They were probably kicking themselves over that one.

Xavier Jackson has a rather pathetic Facebook page, and you can completely bash his writing (or give him inordinate amounts of praise) at XavierJacksonCracked@gmail.com.

For more things you probably aren't aware of, check out 6 Things From History Everyone Pictures Incorrectly and 5 Important People Who Were Screwed Out of History Books.

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