When you think about it, most monuments are really fucking insane. We've carved human heads into mountains, put a robed giantess holding a torch outside New York, and erected all manner of metal and cement dongs in every major city -- but that's tiddlywinks compared to the daffy shit that almost adorned the metropolises around the globe. We're talking about stuff like ...
6The Arc De Triomphe Could've Been A Freaking Elephant
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One of the most famous monuments in all of France, the Arc De Triomphe was built to honor the fallen soldiers of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (and not the host of L'Apprentice, Donald Triomphe). It's an impressive, Roman-inspired architectural marvel with an opening large enough for a suicidal idiot to barnstorm an airplane through.
Beneath the Arc is a WWI tomb for unknown soldiers, whose ghosts probably feel pretty thankful that they weren't forced to spend eternity underneath another of the proposed designs for the monument: a monstrous, water-spewing circus elephant.
At least it's on a slope, so the massive piles of shit would simply slide into a nearby river.
The idea of installing an obnoxiously prodigious pachyderm in the middle of downtown Paris traffic came about as the result of a design competition in 1758. The designer, one Charles Ribart, conceived the L'Elephant Triomphal: Grand Kiosque A La Gloire Du Roi as a three-story, zoomorphic structure where fancy banquets and balls could be held within the belly of the beast, like a chichi version of the rhino scene from Ace Ventura 2. The "Triumphant Elephant" would have been equipped with hi-tech innovations such as air-conditioning, wall-folding furniture, and a drainage system in the trunk, "from which water would gush out into a decorative trough."
"Decorative troughs" having been previously enjoyed only by the wealthiest of French livestock.
Sadly, the French government declined to turn the city center into a sumptuous facsimile of a Ringling Bros. parade, opting instead to go with the monument we know today. Napoleon did attempt to build a giant bronze elephant on the ruins of the Bastille, but the project didn't prosper. Yet Ribart's vision lives on to this day, and his dream of a gargantuan, peanut-loving quadruped-inspired structure may have been most effectively realized in ... New Jersey. Just south of Atlantic City is where architecture enthusiasts can come to find Lucy The Elephant, a six-story leviathan made of wood and tin sheeting, created to "sell real estate and attract tourists" to the Garden State. So, the exact opposite of "honoring dead soldiers" in terms of admirableness.
Michael Thomas Benson
Sure, the French might think it's gauche, but at least we got ours fucking built.
5The Statue Of Liberty Was Almost A Huge, Glowing Egyptian Woman
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While it wasn't exactly the gift of friendship from the people of France that many people think, the Statue Of Liberty is hands-down America's most iconic inanimate object, after Chuck Norris' face. It's hard to imagine anything or anyone occupying that particular bit of real estate but Lady Liberty, with her robe, and her torch, and the lights shooting out of her hijab, and ... wait, what?
Frederic Auguste Bartholdi
If this made you think of a badass guitar riff, here's why.
Originally, instead of the Roman goddess theme that we're familiar with, the statue was just a tad more ... Middle Eastern slave. To understand why, we have no choice but to talk about the statue's designer, French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. Bartholdi didn't like America very much, so it may come as a surprise to you that he was a bit of an insufferable douchespigot: "The Americans believe that it is liberty that illumines the world, but, in reality, it is my genius." In fact, he originally wanted his masterpiece to stand a bit further away from the New York harbor than we're used to: all the way in the Suez Canal, in Egypt. Oh, and at this point, the future Lady Liberty went by the modest name of Egypt (Or Progress) Enlightening The World.
But, in a lucky break for Americans, Egypt decided not to pony up the cash for the statue. Whether or not that was due to the prospect of certain masculine insecurity issues that may have been caused by a 300-foot lady colossus dominating the harbor remains unclear. Luckily, there was a nice little spot in Manhattan that seemed to be just perfect for Bartholdi's creation -- just so long as he changed "Progress" to "Liberty" and toned down that whole "Arab-looking" thing a skootch.
So Lady Liberty's creator may have been an opportunistic asshole who was peddling miniature replicas of the thing before it even existed, but it all worked out for the best, as the statue allowed us to defeat Vigo The Carpathian's ghostly invasion in 1989. Thanks, guy.