#2. St. Paul's Cathedral
One of the most recognizable symbols of London since the completion of its current domed incarnation in 1711, St. Paul's Cathedral has managed to appear in everything from Mary Poppins to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Oh, and it's also hosted some weddings. Not bad for a building that nearly didn't make it through World War II.
In 1940, Germany was playing a game of "let's see how many bombs we can drop on London," forcing many people out of the capital and into the countryside, with very few being lucky enough to encounter magical wardrobes. And of course a huge domed building standing over the city was just too obvious of a target to miss, so it was no surprise when, in September, a bomb finally hit near St. Paul's.
Then the monsters scrawled "69" above it in exhaust trails.
However, instead of turning the cathedral into a holy hole, the bomb simply ... didn't. It didn't explode, it just kind of landed on the lawn. A British bomb disposal unit came out and, despite knowing that the bomb could go off at any moment, spent three days digging it out. And good thing, too, because when the bomb was detonated at a remote location, it left a 100-foot crater.
So only a mistimed timer and some brass-balled army engineers had stood in the way of the cathedral's transformation into about an acre of freshly cleared prime real estate space. It wouldn't be the last time, either. Just a couple of months later, 28 incendiary bombs fell around the cathedral, one of them punching through its lead dome and lodging in its roof timbers, causing an American journalist to report that London's most beloved church was burning to the ground -- but then the bomb dislodged from the ceiling and fell to the nave below, where it was easily put out by firefighters.
Here they are in action.
The next year, yet another direct hit fell on the cathedral, but the heaviest damage was to a vault over the crypt, whose inhabitants presumably weren't all that disturbed by it.
But despite all the close calls, the cathedral still stands strong today as one of London's most recognizable monuments, coming in second only to a bigass clock. Oh, and maybe a bridge. And a palace. Oh yeah, and a giant Ferris wheel. So maybe not second, but definitely top five. Probably.
Regardless, if you bomb a holy building and it looks like this after the dust settles, start repenting.
#1. The Statue of Liberty
Since 1886, the Statue of Liberty has been an undying symbol of freedom, holding her torch high over the city of New York. A gift from France to the United States that the U.S. probably only accepted because it thought it was a fully functional robot, it boasts a skeletal framework designed by none other than the aforementioned Gustave Eiffel. The copper statue proved to be instantly popular -- despite having a few slight issues.
For one thing, copper has something of a corrosion problem. So what started out in 1886 all bright and happy and coppery ...
... oxidized in just two short decades into the grungy "old penny left out in the rain" color we all know and love today. Then, another decade after Lady Liberty completed her transformation into a color that would be named "Zombie Green" were it a Crayola, the German government decided to sabotage some nearby freight cars loaded up with munitions for the Allies in Europe, causing an explosion equivalent to an earthquake measuring between 5.0 and 5.5 on the Richter scale. The resulting damage caused Liberty's torch to be closed off to the public for good in 1916 -- too much chance the goddamned thing would just fall off. Oh, and it didn't help that the arm was never attached all the way in the first place.
During assembly, somebody apparently didn't get that metric system bullshit and had attached her shoulder incorrectly -- and we don't mean it's slightly off, either. The joint was off by 18 inches, with an extra beam thrown in there to fill in the gap. Hey, that's how we do it in America.
Along with a few minor adjustments to the design.
Regardless, Lady Liberty stood unwavering (well, except for that whole "torch arm wavering in the breeze" thing) for more than 60 years after the massive explosion nearly rocked her skirts off. Then in 1980, with the statue's 100th anniversary just around the corner, a French-American committee decided to see if it needed a little paint touch-up or maybe some polish to get it ready for the big day. But what the engineers soon saw was that this lady was far from healthy. Not only was the statue improperly assembled, but it turns out that it was, in fact, a huge hunk of copper left to get sprayed by saltwater for a century, and was rusting through in places. The only thing keeping the elements out in some spots was the layers of interior paint that had piled up over the years.
The final report showed that Lady Liberty was in imminent danger of structural failure: She was dangerously close to becoming an amputee, her torch was a leaky mess and she had the giant copper person's equivalent of leprosy. Luckily, people sprang into action -- most notably President Ronald Reagan, who led a major fundraising campaign to save the statue. After an exhaustive three-year restoration, she received a clean bill of health just in time for her birthday. And that's a good thing, because if there's one thing movies have taught us, it's that when Lady Liberty gets destroyed, it means the apocalypse is here:
Evan V. Symon can be found on Facebook. It's a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be his? Could you be his?
For more things we almost never had, check out 7 Iconic Characters They Saved from The Cutting Room Floor and 6 Classic Movies (That Narrowly Avoided Disaster).
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Most Annoying Part of Working on the Death Star.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover which columnist almost burnt down Cracked HQ.
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